The dumbest science of the Ig Nobel Prize Awards 2022

Enema ritual ceremonies depicted in ceramic. The synchronization of the heartbeats of new lovers. Constipation from scorpio. Because the words in your iPhone “Terms of Agreement” are so complicated. The moose crashes.

Research on all these burning topics and more was honored yesterday at the Ig Nobel Prize 2022 ceremony. Now in its 32nd year, the good-natured Nobel Prize parody recognizes the most unique, silly and downright bizarre research that “first makes people laugh. and then it makes them think “. the Annals of improbable research distributes the prizes less than a month before the real Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden.

The ceremony is usually held at Harvard University, but has been online since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, Nobel laureates handed out prizes. The winners received a virtually worthless 10 trillion dollar bill from Zimbabwe.

And the winners are …

History of art: ancient Mayan enemas

Peter de Smet and Nicholas Hellmuth wrote “A Multidisciplinary Approach to Ritual Enema Scenes on Ancient Maya Pottery” in a 1986 article, but it stands the test of time. The article was adapted from de Smet’s doctoral dissertation and focuses on polychrome pottery from the late classical Maya period (AD 600–900). Palace scenes, ball games, hunting parties and dances associated with human sacrifice (via beheading) are usually painted on this type of pottery, but 55 years ago, scholars discovered a Mayan vase showing the administration of an enema. Other discoveries of fecal fine art followed.

Applied Cardiology: Synchronizing hearts with your crush

Eliska Prochazkova, Elio Sjak-Shie, Friederike Behrens, Daniel Lindh and Mariska Kret have uncovered evidence showing that when two new romantic partners first meet and feel attraction, their heartbeats synchronize, publishing their findings in November. 2021. Prochazkova said she had no trouble finding matches on dating apps, but often didn’t feel that spark when they met in real life. She arranged blind dates in real social settings and measured their physiological reactions and found that the heartbeats of couples with real chemistry were in sync. So, did the team discover “love at first sight”? “It really depends on how you define love,” said Prochazkova, a researcher at Leiden University in the Netherlands, in an email to Associated Press. “What we found in our research is that people have been able to decide if they want to date their partner very quickly. Within the first two seconds of the date, the participants had a very complex idea about the human being sitting in front of them. “

Literature: The terms of the agreement are too complicated

Eric Martínez, Francis Mollica, and Edward Gibson have done what has long been needed by analyzing what makes legal documents unnecessarily difficult to understand. Taking a closer look at all the Terms of Agreement on a new software or device is enough to make you want to avoid all new technology forever. Martínez, Mollica and Gibson were frustrated with all this legal jargon. Their analysis focused on some key psycholinguistic characteristics: non-standard capitalization (those written in loud ALL CAPS), the frequency of SAT words (above, here, for example, etc.) which rarely appear in everyday language, the choice of words, the use of passive versus active voice, central embedding, where lawyers embed legal jargon within a convoluted syntax. “In the end, there is a kind of hope that lawyers will think a little bit more about the reader,” Martínez told the AP. “Clarity is not only to the advantage of the layman, but also to the lawyers.”

Biology: Scorpio constipation

Solimary García-Hernández and Glauco Machado have done the grueling job of investigating constipation that affects scorpion mating prospects. Scorpions are best known for their deadly venom and creepy crawling pincers, not so much for their poop habits. In a process called autonomy, scorpions can detach a body part to escape a predator. However, they also lose the last portion of the digestive tract when they do. This can lead to constipation and eventually death and long-term decreased “locomotor performance of autotomed males can impair mate seeking,” they wrote.

[Related: Cockatoos are pillaging trashcans in Australia, and humans can’t seem to stop them.]

Medicine: ice cream as a cancer therapy

A team of scientists from the University of Warsaw in Poland showed in their 2021 study that when patients undergo some forms of toxic chemotherapy, they experience fewer harmful side effects when ice cream replaces a traditional component of the procedure. This sweet study looked at cryotherapy, in which cancer patients often suck on chunks of ice to prevent oral mucositis (which causes sores in the mouth, gums and tongue, increased mucus and saliva, and difficulty swallowing). But this can get uncomfortable very quickly. This now award-winning study found that only 28.85% of patients who used ice cream cryotherapy developed oral mucositis, compared with 59% who did not receive Ben and Jerry-approved cryotherapy.

Engineering: knob rotation technique

The Matsuzaki generation, Kazuo Ohuchi, Masaru Uehara, Yoshiyuki Ueno and Goro Imura, have discovered the most efficient way to use your fingers when turning a knob. The 1999 study underscored the importance of good universal knob design, particularly for “rotary control instruments”, particularly in older people who may find rotary knobs and faucet handles easier to use than one. lever. The study subjects were asked to rotate a series of different sized knobs clockwise with their right hand. They found that the index fingers and thumb were used more frequently and extra fingers were used as the knobs got wider.

Physics: keeping ducks in line

Frank Fish, Zhi-Ming Yuan, Minglu Chen, Laibing Jia, Chunyan Ji and Atilla Incecik plunged into the world of understanding how ducklings manage to swim in formation. Line up your ducks seems to be about saving energy. They found that the ducklings instinctively tended to “ride the waves” generated by the mother duck to significantly reduce drag. So they use a technique called drafting, like cyclists and runners do in a race to reduce drag. “It has everything to do with the flow that occurs behind that guiding organism and how moving in formation can actually be an energetic benefit,” Fish told the AP.

Related: 8 Animals Are Naturally Hilarious.]

Pace: the riddle of gossip

An international group of scientists from Beijing to Ontario has developed an algorithm to help gossips decide when to tell the truth and when to lie. Essentially, their work can help determine when people are most likely to be honest or dishonest in their gossip by drawing on behavioral signal theory models. “Signals are adaptations modeled by the marginal costs and marginal benefits of different behaviors, and the ultimate function of the signalman behavior is to maximize their physical fitness,” the authors wrote. The gossip may be willing to pay a personal cost (being labeled as a gossip or losing trust) to provide an advantage to the recipient. This is because the gossip could gain a secondary benefit from having the recipient gain juicy new information.

Economy: it pays to be lucky

Alessandro Pluchino, Alessio Emanuele Biondo and Andrea Rapisarda used mathematics to explain why success most of the time does not go to the most talented people but instead to the luckiest. The 2018 paper noted that the qualities most often associated with success follow a normal Gaussian distribution around an average. For example, the average IQ is 100, but no one boasts an IQ of 1,000 or 10,000. “The same goes for effort, measured by hours worked,” the authors wrote. “Some work more hours than average and some work less, but nobody works a billion times more than anyone else.” However, the distribution of wealth follows a law of power, in which there are many poorer people than the few extremely wealthy billionaires. The study suggests that simple, random luck is the missing ingredient based on the authors’ agent-based model.

Safety engineering: moose tracks

Magnus Gens has developed a moose crash test dummy and, surprisingly, this is actually useful information. Swedish motorways are the scene of frequent collisions between large mammals and cars, which can cause injury or death to both moose and humans. This crash test dummy will allow car manufacturers to use animal accidents in their safety tests. Gens tested the dummy at the Saab facility using a modern Saab and an old Volvo traveling at around 45 mph and a second Saab at 57 mph. Fortunately for car makers, the dummy is sturdy and can be reused in multiple crash tests before needing to be replaced.

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