For yet another year, and this is the 31st edition, we already have the winners of the Ig Nobel Prizes. You know, the ones that reward research with hilarious but no less true titles and descriptions. And often, if you think about it, not so far-fetched either. So without further ado, here is the list of the 2021 Ig Nobel Prize winners:
- Biology: Susanne Schötz for analysis of variations in purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, mumbling, meowing, squeaking, hissing, yowling, growling and other modes of communication between cats and humans.
- Ecology: Leila Satari, Alba Guillén, Àngela Vidal-Verdú and Manuel Porcar, for using genetic analysis to identify the different species of bacteria residing in the remains of discarded chewing gum stuck on pavements in several countries.
- Chemistry: Jörg Wicker, Nicolas Krauter, Bettina Derstroff, Christof Stönner, Efstratios Bourtsoukidis, Achim Edtbauer, Jochen Wulf, Thomas Klüpfel, Stefan Kramer and Jonathan Williams, for chemically analysing the air inside cinemas to test whether the odours produced by the audience reliably indicate the levels of violence, sex, anti-social behaviour, drug use and bad language in the film the audience is watching.
- Economics: Pavlo Blavatskyy, for discovering that the obesity of a country’s politicians can be a good indicator of that country’s corruption.
- Medicine: Olcay Cem Bulut, Dare Oladokun, Burkard Lippert and Ralph Hohenberger, for showing that orgasms can be as effective as decongestant drugs in improving nasal breathing.
- Peace: Ethan Beseris, Steven Naleway and David Carrier, for testing the hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from blows to the face.
- Physics: Alessandro Corbetta, Jasper Meeusen, Chung-min Lee, Roberto Benzi and Federico Toschi, for conducting experiments on why pedestrians do not constantly collide with other pedestrians.
- Kinetics: Hisashi Murakami, Claudio Feliciani, Yuta Nishiyama and Katsuhiro Nishinari, for conducting experiments on why pedestrians sometimes collide with other pedestrians.
- Entomology: John Mulrennan, Jr., Roger Grothaus, Charles Hammond and Jay Lamdin, for their study “A new method of controlling cockroaches in submarines”.
- Transport: Robin Radcliffe, Mark Jago, Peter Morkel, Estelle Morkel, Pierre du Preez, Piet Beytell, Birgit Kotting, Bakker Manuel, Jan Hendrik du Preez, Michele Miller, Julia Felippe, Stephen Parry and Robin Gleed, for determining by experiment whether it is safer to transport a rhinoceros upside down through the air.
The physics and kinetics papers are certainly very appropriate for the times in which we live. The one on economics is very insightful. And the one on orgasms is not bad either, as it proposes a natural remedy rather than drugs.