Ig Nobel laureate Marc-Antoine Fardin’s study argues that that cats can be regarded as simultaneously solid and liquid due to their ability to adopt the shape of their container (Source: Reddit) Photograph: (Others)
Scientists from around the globe gathered for Ig Nobel awards celebrating research that ‘first makes you laugh, then makes you think’
The Ig Nobel Prize keeping up with its tradition of awarding the most hilarious and unusual achievements in scientific research has this year awarded scientists who have discovered that old men have big ears, playing the didgeridoo helps relieve sleep apnea and handling crocodiles can influence gambling decisions.
The 27th annual awards were announced on Thursday at Harvard University in a ceremony that featured a traditional barrage of paper airplanes and a world premiere opera.
The 10 Ig Nobel prizes were distributed by real Nobel laureates and each recipient got $10 trillion cash prizes in virtually worthless Zimbabwean money.
Dr James Heathcote is a British physician who won the Ig Nobel for anatomy for his big-ear research. Speaking to AP, he said, "It's a strange honor to have, but I am thrilled" and added, "There's something magical about measuring the ears."
Heathcote's study was published in the prestigious British Medical Journal in 1995. In his study, he measured the ear length of more than 200 patients and discovered that not only men have big ears but they also grow about 2 millimeters (0.08 inches) per decade after age 30. He found that women's ears grow with age too, but since they are too small to start with, they aren't very noticeable. It could also be because men have lesser hair on their head due to which the ears are more noticeable.
Dr. Milo Puhan won the Nobel peace prize for finding a relief for anyone who lives with an unbearably loud snorer. In his study, he found that playing the didgeridoo, a tubular Australian aboriginal instrument that emits a deep, rhythmic drone, helps relieve sleep apnea.
The Nobel economics prize went to a pair of Australians who found that if you want to limit your gambling losses, you have to avoid a crocodile before you go to a casino. Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer plunked a 1-meter (3-foot) saltwater crocodile into the arms of people about to gamble and waited for things to happen. During the experiment, the crocodile had its mouth taped.
While describing the study, Rockloff asserted that the excitement caused by handling a dangerous reptile caused people with pre-existing problems to "gamble higher amounts, which over the long term will lead to greater gambling losses".
The other winners include those scientists who used fluid dynamics to determine whether cats are solid or liquid, researchers who tried to figure out why some people are disgusted by cheese, and psychologists who found that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart in visual images.
The Ig Nobel Prize is a parody of the Nobel Prize, which is awarded every autumn to celebrate ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. The award is being distributed since the year 1991 to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”
According to Wikipedia, the name of the award, the “Ig Nobel Prize” is a pun on the word ignoble, an achievement “characterised by baseness, lowness, or meanness”, and is satirical social criticism that identifies absurd-sounding, yet useful research and knowledge. The awards are organised by the scientific humor magazine, the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR).