Scientists win Ig Nobels for studying eyebrows of narcissists and making frozen poo knives
The hearts of Canadians should swell with pride and joy for the scientists who won the Ig Nobels this week for their research on frozen fecal arms and the maintenance of conceited eyebrows, the organizer of the parody awards said.
This Thursday marked the 30th annual Ig Nobels, a parody of the Nobel Prizes, which distributes honors for weird and humorous academic achievements. Two of this year’s winners had ties to Canada.
The Materials Science Award went to Metin Eren and his team at Kent State University in Ohio for their unsuccessful attempt to make a working knife out of Eren’s own frozen droppings.
“These scientists got good results from their research,” joked Marc Abrahams – editor of Annals of Improbable Research magazine, which sponsors the awards – in an interview with As it happens host Carol Off.
“The point, if there is a point in the Ig Nobel, is to let people know about a bunch of things that make everyone laugh, and then to think. What if that particular research project doesn’t do that to you. , so I feel sorry for you. “
The research was inspired by an Inuit folk tale that Eren read in the Wade Davis anthology Shadows in the sun, in which a man who has been forcibly removed from his community escapes by forging a sharp blade from his own frozen droppings.
“The story goes that he killed a dog with this knife, used his rib cage like a sled, and used his skin to harness another dog, and he fled into the night.” Eren said As it happens in September 2019, at the start of the search published in the Journal of Archeological Science: Reports.
He and his team were unable to replicate the legendary feat. Their knives were never sharp enough to cut meat. But says he’s thrilled to be honored with an Ig Nobel for his efforts.
“I’ve been following the Ig Nobels my whole life. It’s a dream come true, really,” he told the Guardian.
A joint Canada-US team won the Psychology Prize for their 2018 study linking narcissism to people with “distinctive eyebrows.”
“Narcissists tend to take much more care of their eyebrows and often emphasize their appearance compared to the way non-narcissists treat their eyebrows,” Abrahams said.
Asked if the study takes on any new relevance in an era when people wear masks in public spaces, Abrahams said: “You just raised a question that could require an almost endless amount of research if you really wanted to do an endless amount of research on this. “
Some Ig Nobels have visited scientists who have studied the creepy critters.
An international team of scientists won the Physics Prize for vibrating living earthworms to analyze the waves they produced. This study was published in Nature.
“So now anyone else who has done their own work on vibrating earthworms is going to have to face the fact that someone has already been awarded an award for this,” Abrahams said.
Californian Richard Vetter won an Ig Nobel for his 2013 article see why people who spend their lives studying insects are still sometimes afraid of spiders.
“It always seemed funny to me that when I talked to entomologists about spiders, they would say something like, ‘Oh, I hate spiders! He told The Associated Press.
A team from Austria, Sweden, Japan, USA and Switzerland won the Acoustic Prize for giving alligators helium and then recording their bellows.
“It’s kind of like what happens with people,” Abrahams said, raising his voice to a high pitch. “Alligators have a higher voice.”
The award for medical education did not go to scientists, but rather to a group of world leaders for their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was shared by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and, of course, the United States. President Donald Trump.
“They were honored to have used the COVID-19 viral pandemic to teach the world that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors,” Abrahams said.
“We tried to get in touch with all of them to participate in the ceremony, but we are still entangled in the bureaucracy and all these countries are trying to go through. So we don’t know directly what they are doing. think. “
And finally, just like the real Nobels, “the most prestigious of the lot” is the Peace Prize, says Abrahams,
“This year, the governments of India and Pakistan have asked their diplomats to surreptitiously ring on each other’s doors in the middle of the night and then run away before anyone has a chance to answer the question. gate, ”Abrahams said.
The incident in question occurred in 2018, according to the Guardian.
“We cheated the Ig Nobel Prize probably about 25 years ago to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan at that time for peacefully setting off atomic bombs in their backyards. So it is, I guess , a proud tradition that continues in these two countries through governments. “
Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from The Associated Press. Interview with Marc Abrahams produced by Kate Swoger.