The Lighter Side of Science: The 2017 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

With the upcoming announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize winners in early October, I thought I’d share the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize winners. What’s an Ig Nobel? Basically awarding research that “makes people laugh and then think.”

The 2017 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on September 14, 2017 at the 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre.

The winners were as follows:

PHYSICS PRIZE [FRANCE, SINGAPORE, USA] — Marc-Antoine Fardin, for using fluid dynamics to probe the question "Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?"

REFERENCE: "On the Rheology of Cats," Marc-Antoine Fardin, Rheology Bulletin, vol. 83, 2, July 2014, pp. 16-17 and 30.

 

PEACE PRIZE [SWITZERLAND, CANADA, THE NETHERLANDS, USA] — Milo Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz, and Otto Braendli, for demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring.

REFERENCE: "Didgeridoo Playing as Alternative Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome: Randomised Controlled Trial," Milo A. Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz and Otto Braendli, BMJ, vol. 332 December 2006.

 

ECONOMICS PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, USA] — Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer, for their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble.

REFERENCE: "Never Smile at a Crocodile: Betting on Electronic Gaming Machines is Intensified by Reptile-Induced Arousal," Matthew J. Rockloff and Nancy Greer, Journal of Gambling Studies, vol. 26, no. 4, December 2010, pp. 571-81

 

ANATOMY PRIZE [UK] — James Heathcote, for his medical research study "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?"

REFERENCE: "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" James A. Heathcote, British Medical Journal, vol. 311, 1995, p. 1668.

 

 BIOLOGY PRIZE [JAPAN, BRAZIL, SWITZERLAND] — Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, and Charles Lienhard, for their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect.

REFERENCE: "Female Penis, Male Vagina and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect," Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, Charles Lienhard, Current Biology, vol. 24, no. 9, 2014, pp. 1006-1010.

 

FLUID DYNAMICS PRIZE [SOUTH KOREA, USA] — Jiwon Han, for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee. 

REFERENCE: "A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime," Jiwon Han, Achievements in the Life Sciences, vol. 10, no. 1, 2016, pp. 87-101.

 

NUTRITION PRIZE [BRAZIL, CANADA, SPAIN] — Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo Torres, for the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat

REFERENCE: "What is for Dinner? First Report of Human Blood in the Diet of the Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Diphylla ecaudata," Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo A. Torres, Acta Chiropterologica, vol. 18, no. 2, December 2016, pp. 509-515.

 

MEDICINE PRIZE [FRANCE, UK] — Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly and Tao Jiang, for using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese.

REFERENCE: "The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study," Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly and Tao Jiang, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, vol. 10, October 2016, article 511.

 

COGNITION PRIZE [ITALY, SPAIN, UK] — Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, and Salvatore Maria Aglioti, for demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually.

REFERENCE: "Is That Me or My Twin? Lack of Self-Face Recognition Advantage in Identical Twins," Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, Salvatore Maria Aglioti, PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 4, 2015: e0120900.

 

OBSTETRICS PRIZE — [SPAIN] — Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte, for showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly.

REFERENCE: "Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginal Music Emission," Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, and Alberto Prats-Galino, Ultrasound, November 2015, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 216–223.

REFERENCE: "Fetal Acoustic Stimulation Device," patent ES2546919B1, granted September 29, 2015 to Luis y Pallarés Aniorte and Maria Luisa López-Teijón Pérez.

As part of my role as Chief Scientific Officer at  Discovery Worldwide, I believe in the power of science. Whether it's a fun topic or critical to patient outcomes, science is at the heart of everything that we do. To learn more, feel free to PM me directly.