Constipated scorpions, love at first sight inspires Ig Nobels



Emcee Marc Abrahams poses with the 2022 Ig Nobel Prize, Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, at his office in Cambridge, Mass. The prize was emailed to the winners in advance with instructions for self-assembly. The annual awards ceremony on Thursday September 15, 2022 was for the third consecutive year a pre-recorded affair due to the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Abrahams also holds a $10 trillion Zimbabwean note which is part of the prize awarded to the winners. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)


The sex lives of constipated scorpions, cute ducklings with an innate sense of physics, and a life-size rubber moose may not have much in common, but they’ve all inspired this year’s Ig Nobel winners. year, the award for comic scientific achievement. .

Held less than a month before the Nobel Prizes were announced, Thursday’s 32nd annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony was for the third consecutive year a pre-recorded webcast on the Annals of Improbable Research magazine’s website.

The winners, honored in 10 categories, also included scientists who discovered that when people on a blind date are drawn to each other, their heartbeats sync up, and researchers who examined why legal documents can be so confusing, even for lawyers themselves.

Even though the ceremony was pre-recorded, it retained much of the fun of the live event usually held at Harvard University.

As is Ig Nobel tradition, real Nobel laureates handed out the prizes, using a bit of video trickery: Nobel laureates handed out the prize off-screen, while winners held out their hands and brought prize which they had been sent and self-assembled in seeing.

Winners also received a virtually worthless $10 trillion Zimbabwean note.

Ign-nited curiosity? Learn more about some of the winners:


“Science is fun. My kind of slogan is you don’t do science if you don’t have fun,” said Frank Fish, a biology professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, who shared Ig Nobel physics for studying why ducklings follow their single mother. file formation.

It’s about saving energy: ducklings are drafting, much like stock cars, cyclists and runners do in a race, he said.

“It all has to do with the flow that occurs behind this main organism and how the formation displacement can actually be an energetic advantage,” said the aptly named fish, whose specialty is studying how animals swim.

He shared the prize with researchers from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, who found that the ducklings actually surfed in the wake of their mothers.


Eliska Prochazkova’s personal experiences inspired her research on dating that won her and her colleagues the Ig Nobel Prize in Cardiology.

She had no problem finding her apparent perfect match on dating apps, but she often found there was no spark when they met face to face.

So she set up blind dates with people in real-life social settings, measured their physiological responses, and discovered that the heart rates of people who were attracted to each other synchronized.

So is his work the proof of a “love at first sight”?

“It really depends on how you define love,” Prochazkova, a researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said in an email. Within the first two seconds of the meeting, the participants formed a very complex idea of ​​the human sitting in front of them.

A cruel sting

Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado of the University of São Paulo in Brazil won the Ig Nobel Prize in Biology for studying whether constipation ruins a scorpion’s sex life.

Scorpions can detach a body part to escape a predator – a process called autotomy. But when they lose their tails, they also lose the last part of the digestive tract, which leads to constipation – and, eventually, death, they wrote in the journal ‘Integrated Zoology’.

“The long-term decrease in locomotor performance of autotomized males may impair mate-finding,” they wrote.


Magnus Gers won the Ig Nobel Prize in Safety Engineering for making a moose ‘crash test dummy’ for his master’s thesis at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, which was published by the Institute Swedish national road and transport research.

Frequent collisions between moose and vehicles on Swedish highways often result in injury and death to humans and animals, Gers said in an email. Yet automakers rarely include animal collisions in their safety tests.

“I believe this is a fascinating and still very unexplored area that deserves all the attention it can get,” he said. “This topic is mystical, deadly and more relevant than ever.”


Anyone who has ever read a terms of service agreement knows that the legal documents can be downright incomprehensible.

This frustrated Eric Martinez, a graduate student in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also a Harvard law graduate.

He, Francis Mollica and Edward Gibson have shared the Ig Nobel literature to analyze what makes legal documents unnecessarily difficult to understand, research published in the journal “Cognition”.

“At the end of the day, there’s a kind of hope that lawyers will think a bit more with the reader in mind,” he said. “Clarity doesn’t just benefit the layman, it also benefits lawyers.”

This story was originally published September 15, 2022 6:02 p.m.


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