Recipe for an enema from the Maya, the physics of swimming ducklings and a scorpion without an anus.

(ORDO NEWS) — The Ig Nobel Prize is a celebration of playful science and hopelessly serious jokes. Only a few scientists have been honored to receive this high award (there are far fewer of them than Nobel laureates), but anyone can receive a charge of good mood from it.

The rich and glorious history of the Ig Nobel prize dates back to 1991 . It is associated with the name of Mark Abrahams – a professional mathematician and humorist, editor of publications devoted equally to both humor and science: “Annals of Incredible Research” and “Journal of Irreproducible Results”. Abrahams is still the permanent master of ceremonies of Shnobelevka.

It is easy to guess that this award parodies the famous Nobel Prize. But few people know that Andrey Geim, the “father of graphene” and a prominent modern physicist, received both awards. Moreover, Game began with the Ig Nobel Prize, which was brought to him by his levitating frog.

Science, as you know, knows no boundaries and unites scientists from various countries. The Shnobelevka organizing committee has been busy with exactly the same thing throughout its history: unfortunately, for the third time in a row, exclusively online – as a sign of respect for the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

A year ago Shnobelevka pleased us with a breakthrough in communication between a man and his cat, a correlation between the level of corruption and obesity of officials, as well as cockroaches on submarines and valuable information that an orgasm helps to blow your nose. What did the past year in science mark in the opinion of the distinguished jury?

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Mayan vase depicting a ritual enema

The art history award went to Peter de Smet and Nicholas Hellmuth. The publication that brought them victory came out back in 1986 and is dedicated to the life of the Maya, the aboriginal people of the New World.

Studying the painting on an ancient vessel, scientists came to the conclusion that the Mayan people practiced enemas. Obviously, guided by the example of Louis Pasteur and Humphry Davy, the authors fearlessly tested their discovery on themselves and appreciated the effectiveness of alcohol enemas.

The smoking monkey depicted on the vase in the context of this procedure, however, the authors did not dare to reproduce.

Ig Nobel Literature Prize winners Eric Martínez, Francis Mollica, and Edward Gibson have finally figured out why legal documents are so difficult for mere mortals to read.

It turns out that the psycholinguistic factor is to blame: it is he who forces lawyers and lawyers to resort to archaic and pretentious constructions, to abuse the passive voice and even to quote WHOLE SENTENCES IN UPPER CASE. To this end, the researchers analyzed many hard-to-understand official papers.

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Physical basis of swimming of a brood of ducklings

The physics prize went to Frank Fish and his numerous co-authors, including those with hard-to-translate Chinese names. They were able to figure out the physical basis by which one-day-old ducklings are able to effectively shoal after their mother.

Professor Fish has been studying the dynamics of the movement of groups of birds since 1994, and just recently achieved a breakthrough in this area – thanks to experiments with a brood of ducklings swimming in a special metabolic chamber.

Laureate biologists Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado addressed the difficulties that Ananteris balzani scorpions face in their lives . The fact is that they, like lizards and salamanders, are able to discard their tail in case of danger.

With the help of such a sacrifice, the animal is saved from the predator, which in this case also does not remain completely empty-handed. But for a scorpion, the loss of its “tail” ( metasoma ) means the loss of its sting, poisonous glands, a significant part of the nervous, digestive and other systems.

Among other things, after this so-called autotomy, the scorpion is left without an anus, because of which it loses the ability to defecate.

To the surprise of the authors, these arthropods, which have lost a quarter of their mass (which, however, are rapidly gaining weight due to increasing constipation), can still eat and move quickly. What’s more, the rest of Ananteris balzani is even capable of reproduction – until the end is soon and inevitable, for obvious reasons.

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Scorpion Ananteris balzani

Equally impressive are the accomplishments of medical awardees who successfully supplemented a dangerous chemotherapy session with ice cream, and engineers who found the best ways to grab the doorknob.

Winners of the Ig Nobel Peace Prize have managed to create an algorithm with which gossips can decide when it is better for them to tell the truth, and prize-winning economists have solved the age-old riddle with the help of mathematics: why the most successful are not the most capable, but the luckiest?

Meanwhile, safety engineers have been honored for creating a mock elk that can predict the consequences of a car colliding with a real elk.

Finally, the award for achievements in the field of applied cardiology went to European scientists who convincingly showed that falling in love at first sight leads to the fact that the hearts of lovers immediately begin to beat in unison.

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Scientists solve heart cases online

There’s costume play, musical numbers, and unique traditions, like flying paper planes and a mini-opera, which this year is dedicated to an imaginary “Know-it-All Club” in which everyone thinks only they know everything.

The Ig Nobel ceremony is a perfect example of the fact that real science does not have to be boring or even serious all the time. And it is a celebration of humor to the same extent as a celebration of science.


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