Ig Nobel prize winners
I hope nobody took my recommendation to watch the 2022 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony last week. I watched the recording. I only made it to the end of the video out of a sense of duty; and I sped through it.
The researchers and their studies were good. But they weren’t really given the spotlight. They each got 1 or 2 minutes to describe their paper. Each Nobel laureate presenting an award got to ask basically one question to the researchers.
The rest of the ceremony was corny vignettes where people who you have no idea who they are attempt to do comedy and theater, with vague nods to science.
The host made every award presenter and recipient pretend to pass off-screen a rolled up piece of paper standing in for a trophy. And then the host would take a turn, passing a fake trillion dollar bill to the recipients. One time the host cut off a presenter mid-question to remind everyone to do the act-out.
I’m not saying I could host a better live stream award show, so no judgement. It just was ironic that the research papers were funny but kind of took a back seat, and more time was devoted to planned bits that were not good.
Of the 10 winners1, these are my top 3:
Ritual enemas depicted on ancient Maya pottery
Original paper by Peter de Smet and Nicholas Hellmuth
These recipients had the weirdest energy by far. One guy was wearing a bucket hat with tree branches tied onto it. He was talking about enemas. He had two women standing behind him holding a rack of turtle shells, unexplained. His dress shirt neck was too loose. He postulates that people put alcohol in enemas. He talks about how he tested it on himself, and he holds up the actual devices for the camera, which are gourds with hoses on the end. So we’re looking at something that has been inside him. He clarifies he tested it with less than 10% alcohol. He made his own knitted vomit bag. His theory is that boys were given a hallucinogenic drink when it was their time to become full men of the tribe, but that they got too intoxicated to pass the drink around to everyone in the line so they take the remainder as an enema. It sounded like a flimsy theory, but what do I know. When he showed his home-made butt tubes to the camera the woman in the background slinked out of the field of view with a hint of shame.
Most energy-efficient way for a person's hand to turn a doorknob
Original paper by Gen Matsuzaki
This team studied how people position their fingers to turn “columnar knobs”, like doorknobs or the volume control on a stereo. He found at what sizes (diameter of the knob) people switch over from 2 to 3 fingers, 3 to 4 fingers, where they position their thumb relative to their other fingers, etc.. This one reminded me how my dad always uses his middle and index fingers to turn dials on the car dashboard and how I always watched him do that and thought it was a weird choice. It’s a paper that aliens pretending to be humans should read so they can blend in.
The most successful people are more often lucky than they are talented.
Original paper by Alessandro Pluchino, Alessio Emanuele Biondo, and Andrea Rapisarda
This group previously won in 2010 for their research suggesting that organizations would be more efficient if they simply promoted people at random.