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posted by janrinok on Sunday September 17, @11:31AM   Printer-friendly

As reported in New Atlas and many other places, the 2023 Ig Nobel winners have been announced.

The Ig Nobel Prize celebrates the most trivial and ridiculous things our best and brightest have studied. The 2023 award winners are now world-class experts that have advanced mankind's knowledge on big questions. Questions like "how much do horny anchovies influence ocean water mixing?" Or "if a group of people stand in the street looking upward, does the size of the group influence how many unrelated passers-by also decide to look up?" Or that old chestnut, "do we need toilets that analyze our excreta and identify us by taking photos of our anuses?"

Just a couple of examples to raise the level of excitement...

Medicine Prize: Christine Pham, Bobak Hedayati, Kiana Hashemi, Ella Csuka, Tiana Mamaghani, Margit Juhasz, Jamie Wikenheiser, and Natasha Mesinkovska, for using cadavers to explore whether there is an equal number of hairs in each of a person's two nostrils. Don't miss their riveting work "The Quantification and Measurement of Nasal Hairs in a Cadaveric Population."

Education Prize: Katy Tam, Cyanea Poon, Victoria Hui, Wijnand van Tilburg, Christy Wong, Vivian Kwong, Gigi Yuen, and Christian Chan, for methodically studying the boredom of teachers and students. If anything could be more exciting than boredom, it's surely their paper, "Boredom Begets Boredom: An Experience Sampling Study on the Impact of Teacher Boredom on Student Boredom and Motivation."

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  • (Score: 2) by sigterm on Sunday September 17, @12:47PM (2 children)

    by sigterm (849) on Sunday September 17, @12:47PM (#1325043)

    Amusingly, the "Education Prize" link points to the wrong paper, one entitled "Whatever will bore, will bore: The mere anticipation of boredom exacerbates its occurrence in lectures."

    Which means we now have two papers proving that not only is boredom on the part of the teacher/professor/lecturer contagious and ruins the experience for the students, but the mere [i]anticipation[/i] that a lecture will be boring creates such a strong prejudice in students that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Surely, this indicates that schools and universities should put great emphasis on the ability to show enthusiasm when recruiting teachers and professors? In addition to them having strong qualifications in their field, of course.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by HiThere on Sunday September 17, @01:44PM (1 child)

      by HiThere (866) on Sunday September 17, @01:44PM (#1325052) Journal

      They don't even need "strong qualifications". At least not until the graduate level. Sufficient qualifications coupled with enthusiasm and good speaking ability should suffice. (Lecturing to the blackboard should disqualify almost anyone.)

      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, @09:51AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, @09:51AM (#1325157)
        In theory you only need a few with good speaking ability - they can record youtube etc videos for the rest of the world.

        The ones you need in quantity are the teachers who will teach those who still can't understand despite watching/rewinding the videos multiple times.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Ox0000 on Sunday September 17, @12:48PM (1 child)

    by Ox0000 (5111) on Sunday September 17, @12:48PM (#1325044)

    Before the masses come in here complaining about "who funds this stuff":

    This is about research that makes laugh and then makes you think - with an emphasis on the thinking.

    I highly recommend reading the actual papers because, while the title may make you laugh and question the sanity of the funders and researchers, the content typically is very concrete, applicable, and germane to the real world! And while you're at it, watch the prize ceremony when it becomes available, it's much, much better than the (non-Ig) Nobel Prize ceremony.

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Sunday September 17, @02:51PM

      by looorg (578) on Sunday September 17, @02:51PM (#1325061)

      This is both the interesting and the sad part of the IG Nobel prize. The general though should be that this is light science of some kind, fun stuff. But it turns out that a lot of them appear to be putting in a lot more work and scientific rigor then is put into a lot of actual or "serious" science papers. It's at least a step up of sorts from "Dance your PhD", where the future doctors interpret their thesis in the form of dancing ...

      > "do we need toilets that analyze our excreta and identify us by taking photos of our anuses?"
      That is a real thing? Is that one of those Japanese toilets? Or was it just someone putting some sort of upskirt camera in a toilet? I don't think I had or experienced any anus photography. That said a lot of things could be said about the human body and it's working by analyzing excrement, or what comes out of the man machine after processing. It's just not something we do unless the person is really sick. Cause nobody really like to poke around in poop, except those people at the lab that are really into it for some reason.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by looorg on Sunday September 17, @03:06PM (1 child)

    by looorg (578) on Sunday September 17, @03:06PM (#1325063)

    "Te Faye Yap, Zhen Liu, Anoop Rajappan, Trevor Shimokusu, and Daniel Preston, for re-animating dead spiders to use as mechanical gripping tools in their paper: “Necrobotics: Biotic Materials as Ready-to-Use Actuators."

    "The process begins with a spider being euthanized, after which a needle is inserted into its prosoma chamber. A drop of glue is then added at the insertion point, to keep the needle in place.

    Using a syringe attached to that needle, a small amount of air is subsequently pushed into the chamber, causing the legs to open up. When air is drawn back out of the chamber, the legs close. In tests conducted so far, the spider-based necrobotic grippers were able to lift over 130% of the spider's own body weight.

    According to the researchers, one spider carcass lasts for about 1,000 open/close cycles before its tissues begin to degrade. It is hoped that adding a polymer coating could increase longevity."

    Not for people with Arachnophobia then. Also this sounds an awful lot like the beginning of some horrific scifi-horror-zombie-movie. But it is apparently research into hydraulic pressure.

    "Stanley Milgram, Leonard Bickman, and Lawrence Berkowitz, for experiments on a city street to see how many passers-by stop to look upward when they see strangers looking upward. They explore the subject deeply in their paper, “Note on the Drawing Power of Crowds of Different Size.”

    As a subject this might sound stupid at first glance but it could actually be quite useful and interesting. How crowds react is always interesting in a lot of fields.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Opportunist on Sunday September 17, @03:45PM

      by Opportunist (5545) on Sunday September 17, @03:45PM (#1325065)

      It's interesting how people behave in a crowd. There was a fascinating experiment about how people conform to a group without even belonging to it, and without having any reason to try to belong to it, where a group of people, who were part of the experiment, performed obviously nonsensical behaviour and got an outside person not only to conform to it but also to continue the behaviour when the group was gone, and even "teach" the behaviour to other outsiders.

      You can watch that here []. Humans are quite fascinating social creatures.

  • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Monday September 18, @04:11AM

    by Reziac (2489) on Monday September 18, @04:11AM (#1325121) Homepage


    Fourteen! Fourteen! Fourteen!

    And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.