The satirical science journal Annals of Improbable Research, which highlights genuine, but improbable research from across the world, organises an Ig Nobel prize every year. The prize is designed to celebrate unusual inventions and improbable scientific research.
Defining their unusual aim for the Ig Nobel prize, Annals of Improbable research said: ‘We are honoring achievements that make people laugh, then think. Good achievements can also be odd, funny, and even absurd; So can bad achievements. A lot of good science gets attacked because of its absurdity. A lot of bad science gets revered despite its absurdity.’
This year’s absurd science
This year’s Ig Nobel prize presented winners for many weird and wonderful projects.
The winning projects include:
- A DIY colonoscopy. The do-it-yourself colonoscopy was presented by Japanese medic Akira Horiuchi, who published the study “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned from Self-Colonoscopy.” The National Cancer Center in Japan have shown in recent research that colon cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in Japan. Horiuchi decided to create the DIY colonoscopy as a method that would be accepted by everyone, because he knew that many people never have the colonoscopy.
- ‘Bowlingual’ – an interpreter for humans to translate dog-language. It classifies the dog’s barks into emotional categories frustration, menace, joy, sorrow, desire, and self-expression.
- John Barry, Bruce Blank, and Michel Boileau used postage stamps to test whether the male sexual organ is functioning properly in their study, “Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps,”
- The babypod, a ‘fetal acoustic stimulation device’, invented by Luis y Pallarés Aniorte and Maria Luisa López-Teijón Pérez. It showed that a human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother’s vagina, than music played electromechanically on the mother’s belly.
- An investigation which shows that the calorific intake of human-cannibalism diet is much lower than a traditional meat-based diet, by James Cole. The study is called “Assessing the Calorific Significance of Episodes of Human Cannibalism in the Paleolithic,”
The prize winners always receive their prizes from genuine Nobel laureates. This year the Nobel Laureates awarding prizes were:
- Eric Maskin (economics, 2007)
- Wolfgang Ketterle (physics, 2001)
- Oliver Hart (economics, 2016)
- Michael Rosbash (physiology or medicine, 2017)