The Ig Nobel Prizes are a satirical award ceremony that recognizes achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” They are presented annually by the Annals of Improbable Research, a magazine that highlights humorous and unconventional scientific research. The awards are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative, and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.
The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded in 10 categories: biology, chemistry, physics, literature, peace, economics, medicine, psychology, public health, and engineering. The awards event is organized by the scientific humor magazine, Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) are presented.
Every September, in a gala ceremony in Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, 1100 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the new winners step forward to accept their Prizes. These are physically handed to them by genuine (and genuinely bemused) Nobel Laureates. Thousands more, around the world, watch the live broadcast online. During these recent Covid-19 pandemic years, the ceremony has happened entirely online.
The 2022 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded at the 32nd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, on Thursday, September 15, 2022.
The 2022 Ig Nobel Prize winners
Applied cardiology prize: The award was presented to Eliska Prochazkova, Elio Sjak-Shie, Friederike Behrens, Daniel Lindh, and Mariska Kret, for seeking and finding evidence that when new romantic partners meet for the first time, and feel attracted to each other, their heart rates synchronize.
Reference: “Physiological Synchrony is Associated with Attraction in a Blind Date Setting,” Eliska Prochazkova, Elio Sjak-Shie, Friederike Behrens, Daniel Lindh, and Mariska E. Kret, Nature Human Behaviour, vol. 6, no. 2, 2022, pp. 269-278.
Literature prize: The award was presented to Eric Martínez, Francis Mollica, and Edward Gibson, for analyzing what makes legal documents unnecessarily difficult to understand.
Reference: “Poor Writing, Not Specialized Concepts, Drives Processing Difficulty in Legal Language,” Eric Martínez, Francis Mollica, and Edward Gibson, Cognition, vol. 224, July 2022, 105070.
Biology Prize: The award was presented to Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, for studying whether and how constipation affects the mating prospects of scorpions.
Reference: “Short- and Long-Term Effects of an Extreme Case of Autotomy: Does ‘Tail’ Loss and Subsequent Constipation Decrease the Locomotor Performance of Male and Female Scorpions?” Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, Integrative Zoology, epub 2021.
Reference: “Fitness Implications of Nonlethal Injuries in Scorpions: Females, but Not Males, Pay Reproductive Costs,” Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, American Naturalist, vol. 197, no. 3, March 2021, pp. 379-389.
Reference:” ‘Tail’ Autotomy and Consequent Stinger Loss Decrease Predation Success in Scorpions,” Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado, Animal Behaviour, vol. 169, 2020, pp. 157-167.
Medicine Prize: The award was presented to Marcin Jasiński, Martyna Maciejewska, Anna Brodziak, Michał Górka, Kamila Skwierawska, Wiesław Jędrzejczak, Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Grzegorz Basak, and Emilian Snarski, for showing that when patients undergo some forms of toxic chemotherapy, they suffer fewer harmful side effects when ice cream replaces one traditional component of the procedure.
Reference: “Ice-Cream Used as Cryotherapy During High-Dose Melphalan Conditioning Reduces Oral Mucositis After Autologous Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation,” Marcin Jasiński, Martyna Maciejewska, Anna Brodziak, Michał Górka, Kamila Skwierawska, Wiesław W. Jędrzejczak, Agnieszka Tomaszewska, Grzegorz W. Basak, and Emilian Snarski, Scientific Reports, vol. 11, no. 22507, 2021.
Engineering Prize: The award was presented to Gen Matsuzaki, Kazuo Ohuchi, Masaru Uehara, Yoshiyuki Ueno, and Goro Imura, for trying to discover the most efficient way for people to use their fingers when turning a knob.
Reference: “How to Use Fingers during Rotary Control of Columnar Knobs,” Gen Matsuzaki, Kazuo Ohuchi, Masaru Uehara, Yoshiyuki Ueno, and Goro Imura, Bulletin of Japanese Society for the Science of Design, vol. 45, no. 5, 1999, pp. 69-76.
Reference: “Experimental Studies on the Rotary Control of Columnar Knobs — The Number of Fingers used at the Time of starting Rotary Control,” Gen Matsuzaki, Goro Imura, and Maseru Uehara, Proceedings of the Third Asia Design Conference, 1998, pp. 37-40.
Art History Prize: The award was presented to Peter de Smet and Nicholas Hellmuth, for their study “A Multidisciplinary Approach to Ritual Enema Scenes on Ancient Maya Pottery.”
Reference: “A Multidisciplinary Approach to Ritual Enema Scenes on Ancient Maya Pottery,” Peter A.G.M. de Smet and Nicholas M. Hellmuth, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 16, no. 2-3, 1986, pp. 213-262.
Can Sex Improve Nasal Function? — 2021 Ig Nobel Medicine Winner
Physics Prize: The award was presented to Frank Fish, Zhi-Ming Yuan, Minglu Chen, Laibing Jia, Chunyan Ji, and Atilla Incecik, for trying to understand how ducklings manage to swim in formation.
Reference: “Energy Conservation by Formation Swimming: Metabolic Evidence from Ducklings,” Frank E. Fish, in the book Mechanics and Physiology of Animal Swimming, 1994, pp. 193-204.
Reference: “Wave-Riding and Wave-Passing by Ducklings in Formation Swimming,” Zhi-Ming Yuan, Minglu Chen, Laibing Jia, Chunyan Ji, and Atilla Incecik, Journal of Fluid Mechanics, vol. 928, no. R2, 2021.
Peace Prize: The award was presented to Junhui Wu, Szabolcs Számadó, Pat Barclay, Bianca Beersma, Terence Dores Cruz, Sergio Lo Iacono, Annika Nieper, Kim Peters, Wojtek Przepiorka, Leo Tiokhin and Paul Van Lange, for developing an algorithm to help gossipers decide when to tell the truth and when to lie.
Reference: “Honesty and Dishonesty in Gossip Strategies: A Fitness Interdependence Analysis,” Junhui Wu, Szabolcs Számadó, Pat Barclay, Bianca Beersma, Terence D. Dores Cruz, Sergio Lo Iacono, Annika S. Nieper, Kim Peters, Wojtek Przepiorka, Leo Tiokhin and Paul A.M. Van Lange, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, vol. 376, no. 1838, 2021, 20200300.
What is alopecia? It’s no laughing matter for millions of Black American women
Economics Prize: The award was presented to Alessandro Pluchino, Alessio Emanuele Biondo, and Andrea Rapisarda, for explaining, mathematically, why success most often goes not to the most talented people, but instead to the luckiest.
Reference: “Talent vs. Luck: The Role of Randomness in Success and Failure,” Alessandro Pluchino, Alessio Emanuele Biondo, and Andrea Rapisarda, Advances in Complex Systems, vol. 21, nos. 3 and 4, 2018.
[Note: This is the second Ig Nobel Prize awarded to Alessandro Pluchino and Andrea Rapisarda. The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize for Management was awarded to Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.]
Obesity of a country’s politicians may be a good indicator of that country’s corruption: 2021 Ig Nobel Winner
Safety Engineering Prize: The award was presented to Magnus Gens, for developing a moose crash-test dummy.
Reference: “Moose Crash Test Dummy,” Magnus Gens, Master’s thesis at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, published by the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 2001.