Ignobel Awards: Discoveries that will first make you laugh, but also make you think
Proven: The hearts of lovers beat in the same rhythm
Without much fanfare like the Nobel laureates, the world of science last night found out this year's laureates of the Ignobel awards for discoveries, which, as the authors of the selection state, "will first make you laugh, but then make you think".
The awards have been presented by the "Annals of Amazing Research" for 32 years and deserve the respect of much more "serious" scientific institutions.
- The awarding of the Ignobel Prizes is probably the main date in the scientists' calendar - notes the influential journal "Nature".
Peace Prize – Gossip Techniques
This year's Ignobel Peace Prize went to a group of scientists who developed an algorithm that helps gossipers decide when to lie and when to tell the truth. They define gossip as "sharing information about absent third parties" and indicate that it can be positive, negative or neutral. Gossip is rarely an honest transfer of information. Small doses of untruths usually do no harm to the target person, but when the gossiper over-enriches the information with lies, the system fails, the scientists conclude. The authors are awarded because by analyzing four possible outcomes of gossip, they have compiled an algorithm that gives them signals how and when to dose the lies.
– – Gossipers should always be honest in situations of perfect mutual benefit of the interlocutors and be dishonest when there is a perfect conflict of interests – the scientists conclude in the award-winning paper.
Economics – Luck is a key factor in success
Three Italian scientists shared the Ignobel prize for economics this year because they mathematically proved that luck is an important factor for professional success.
Starting from the commonly accepted belief that a person's success is the result of a combination of a number of factors – talent, intelligence, skills, persistence, risk-taking and a lot of effort, Alessandro Pluchino, Emanuele Biondo and Andrea Rapisarda point out that there are many people who possess all these abilities , and do not stand out in the environment as successful people.
– The average IQ is 100, but there is no such thing as a super smart mind with an IQ of 1.000 or 10.000. It's the same with efforts. Someone works more hours, but no one works a billion times more than others. That's why there are no big deviations from the average line. But on the wealth and success curve, there are incredibly rich billionaires and poor people. The factor that causes the deviation is neither talent nor work, but ordinary luck - the authors claim, recalling that people with average abilities usually suppress the talented and hardworking.
Literature – The art of incomprehensible works
Eric Martinez, Francis Mollica and Edward Gibson shared this year's Ignobel Prize for Literature for their analysis of why legal documents are needlessly incomprehensible.
Analyzing the use of archaisms, passive voice and confusing syntax in all documents over a three-year period, they concluded that the factors that contribute to the text being unintelligible are significantly more frequently used in legal documents.
Applied Cardiology – The heart does not lie when you are in love
The Ignobel prize for applied cardiology was shared by a group of scientists who practically proved that the heart deserves to be a symbol of love, because in lovers it beats as one.
They studied 70 randomly selected couples who were "blindly" matched at music festivals, art exhibitions and scientific meetings in the Netherlands and monitored their heart rate and skin conductance in the "meeting booth" where they made their first verbal and visual contact. .
- After contacts, 53 percent of men and 34 percent of women expressed a desire for a new meeting, and in 17 percent of cases that desire was mutual. Among those with a mutual desire for a new meeting, a striking synchronization of the heart rhythm was observed while they were in contact - the scientists concluded.
Medicine – Ice cream is sweet therapy
A group of Polish scientists won the Ignobel prize for medicine for proving that ice cream is not only sweeter, but also a more effective means of alleviating side effects in cancer patients treated with toxic chemotherapy.
Radiation treatment often produces "oral mucositis" – pain in the mouth and tongue, increased salivation and swallowing problems.
This is alleviated with cryotherapy – sucking ice cubes. In the group of patients treated with ice cream (flavor of choice), only 29 percent developed oral mucositis, and among those with classic cryotherapy, the side effect developed in 59 percent of patients.
Physics - What does a duck know what interference is?
The physics prize was shared by Chinese scientists who helped explain the ability of newly hatched ducklings to swim in tight formation behind their mother.
Biologist Frank Fish proved as early as 1994 that ducklings swimming in a column behind the duck consume significantly less energy. For cyclists, by comparison, it has been proven that those who ride in a column suffer 38 percent less air resistance and save 35 percent of the force to reach speed.
New research explains the physical aspects of the interference of waves created by a duck to reduce the drag experienced by ducklings following it, even a day after hatching.
Safety – Rubber moose saves lives
A moose made of wires and rubber won Magnus Gens the Ignobel Prize for Engineering. He created the dummy to help car manufacturers protect drivers and passengers from hitting a moose on the road – which often ends in fatal consequences.
There are 13 moose hits every day on Swedish roads alone, usually in May when the parents drop off their young. But a one-year-old "cub" weighs 200 kilograms, and an adult moose weighs 600 kilograms. The classic construction cannot protect drivers because the moose has a high center of gravity and after hitting the bumper in its legs, the massive body ends up in the windshield.
Gens crash tested an old Volvo and a newer Saab at speeds of 72 and 92 mph on his dummy and the damage to the vehicles was very similar to that of real moose impacts.
Engineering – Doorknobs for the laziest fingers
Japanese scientists have shared an engineering prize for researching the most efficient finger movement to open a doorknob without a handle. After previous research found that older people found it easier to open a doorknob without a handle, scientists turned to biomechanics.
They determined that the thumb and index finger are used most often. With the use of three fingers it is easiest to rotate doorknobs with a diameter of 10 millimeters, with four fingers doorknobs from 23 to 26 millimeters, and with all fingers doorknobs from 45 to 50 millimeters.
Art History – The Mayan Mystery Solved
Finally, the Ignobel Prize for the History of Art was shared by Peter de Smet and Nicolas Hellmuth, for "a multidisciplinary approach to scenes of ritual enemas on Maya pottery."
Interpreting the depictions of enemas on many vessels, Smet and Helmuth determined that the treatment was not only done for healing but also to "raise the mood" at rituals or parties. They also compiled a list of possible remedies – from alcohol to tobacco, to hallucinogenic lotuses and mushrooms.