Ig Nobel Prize 2022: Mayan alcohol enemas, constipation in scorpions and elk crash test dummy

Ig Nobel Prize 2022: Mayan alcohol enemas, constipation in scorpions and elk crash test dummy

On September 15, the 32nd Ig Nobel Prize ceremony was held – a parody of the Nobel Prize has been awarded annually since 1991 for “achievements” that “first cause laughter, and then reflection.” This year, as in previous years, it was held in an online format, along with the live broadcast, the organizers and laureates joined with performances.


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By tradition, 10 awards were presented for outstanding “achievements” in the field of physics, economics, medicine, cardiology and other fields. The ceremony was hosted by longtime host Mark Abrahams, editor and co-founder of the science humor magazine Annals of Incredible Research. We briefly talk about the current Ig Nobel Prize winners and their incredibly curious research.

art history

Researchers from the Netherlands, Guatemala, USA, and Austria were noted for experimenting with “a multidisciplinary approach to ritual enema scenes on ancient May pottery “.

The scientists analyzed the iconography on several pottery depicting enemas, as well as the glyphs that appear in these scenes. They concluded that the ancient Indians practiced hallucinogenic enemas. They also compiled a list of possible “ethnopharmacological” substances that the mai might have used, and suggested that they might have used not only alcohol, but also, for example, tobacco.

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One of the researchers, Pieter de Smet, even tested the effectiveness of several candidate substances by giving himself an enema with a 5% alcohol content. “ The results clearly support the theoretical assumption that alcohol is well absorbed after an enema,” the authors concluded.

The authors did not practice tobacco enemas, given the evidence of toxic side effects, and enemas with other substances. But they recommended further studies to expand the sample size and dosage range.


A group of scientists from the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Sweden and Aruba were awarded for finding and collecting evidence that the heartbeats of partners who feel romantic attraction to each other at the first meeting begin to synchronize.

The authors of the study recruited 140 participants (71 couples) to three separate events in the Netherlands: a music festival, an art and science festival, and a science film festival. Participants were invited in pairs to a specially equipped dating booth with a table separated by a plastic partition. The date lasted several minutes: after the first three seconds of the first visual impression, the partition was raised, and then lowered twice more to give strangers two minutes each for verbal and non-verbal interaction. After that, they decided if they wanted a second date. Finally, after these blind dates, 34% of women and 53% of men expressed a desire to meet their partner again, but mutual sympathy was observed only in 17% of random couples.

Smiling, laughing, eye gaze, or motor skills did not significantly affect romantic attraction, but ups and downs in heart rate synchrony and skin sensitivity correlated with increases and decreases in libido levels. Bottom line: you can’t command the heart – and the sensitivity of the skin will not let itself be deceived.

Ig Nobel Prize 2022: Mayan alcohol enemas, constipation in scorpions and elk crash test dummy
Mark Abrahams is the permanent host of the Ig Nobel Prize


The award was given to researchers from Canada, the US, the UK and Australia for scientific research into the phenomenon of legal documents being too complex for ordinary people to understand.

The authors decided to test the main hypotheses by focusing on key features: the unusual use of capital letters as phrases written entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS; repetition of archaic words that are rarely used in everyday communication; choice of words, the ability to replace legal jargon with simpler terms without distorting the content); using the passive state of the verb instead of the active; and center-embedding – a phenomenon in linguistics, when lawyers embed legal terminology in a confusing syntax

The authors of the study analyzed a database of legal contracts and court documents from 2018 to 2020 and then compared the results with another database of documents written in plain English. They determined the frequency of each of the above metrics and eventually found a striking difference, as they are used much more frequently in legal documents (surprisingly, they aren’t). Then 108 people were asked to read 12 pairs of extracts from documents. The results supported the psycholinguistic hypothesis, with center-embedding making it harder for readers to understand the content of documents.


Scientists from Brazil and Colombia received an Ig Nobel Prize for trying to find a link between constipation and mating ability in scorpions.

Like lizards that drop their tails in any danger, some species of scorpions (Ananteris balzani) also sacrifice their “tails”, but their anatomical features mean the loss of the entire “metasom”: the back sections of the nervous, circulatory and digestive systems. This applies to the sting, poison glands and anus, which makes it impossible to defecate.

So the authors of the study wanted to determine whether the loss of the metasome affects the motor activity of the scorpion, that is, its speed of movement. Ultimately, they disproved the weight loss hypothesis after a series of short- and long-term experiments involving 154 male and female scorpions. The results showed that metasomal rejection had no effect on running speed in either male or female scorpions.

This means that in the short term, scorpions can actively search for food and run away from predators, and males are able to leave offspring – provided that they have time before the inevitable death from constipation.

The medicine

Researchers from Poland noted an article about the reduction of side effects in patients undergoing chemotherapy – provided that one of the components of the treatment is replaced with ice cream .

Ig Nobel Prize 2022: Mayan alcohol enemas, constipation in scorpions and elk crash test dummy

The authors conducted a retrospective study of 74 patients (mean age: 58 years) who received stem cell transplantation during cancer treatment. Their cryotherapy included three “doses” of ice cream chosen at the hospital canteen (popsicles or dairy products). Patients were instructed to take it slow to avoid hypothermia of the throat. As a result, only 28.85% of patients who used ice cream cryotherapy developed oral mucositis versus 59% in another group of patients who did not receive cryotherapy. The authors concluded that ice cream consumption is a good prophylactic against the development of oral mucositis in cancer patients.


The award was given to researchers in Japan for trying to find an efficient way to use fingers to turn a doorknob.

The authors of the study note the importance of a good all-round handle design, especially for “turn-operated tools”. All 32 study participants were students aged 19–20, and 45 wooden handles ranged in diameter from 7 mm to 130 mm. The pens were placed on a transparent acrylic sheet (to better see the results) which was placed on a table (approximately 80 cm high). Participants alternated with their right hand turning each knob clockwise – thumb and forefinger were used most often, with extra fingers connected for larger diameter knobs. More specifically, two fingers were replaced by three at the 10–11 mm line, three to four fingers were used on 23–26 mm handles, and four to five fingers were used at 45–50 mm (approximately 1–3/4 inches). . Industrial designers, take note.


Two teams of scientists from China, the UK, Turkey and the US were honored for an experiment in which they investigated how ducklings and goslings manage to stay in formation so well on the water.

In 1994, biologist Frank Fish became interested in how flocking Ig Nobel Prize 2022: Mayan alcohol enemas, constipation in scorpions and elk crash test dummyIg Nobel Prize 2022: Mayan alcohol enemas, constipation in scorpions and elk crash test dummy this collective movement of a large number of independent individuals, which is the collective behavior of animals, represented by many living beings – birds, fish, bacteria and insects in animals can reduce the energy expenditure of individuals of the group. Fish found that group swimming did indeed reduce energy expenditure, especially for the youngest ducklings.

Ig Nobel Prize 2022: Mayan alcohol enemas, constipation in scorpions and elk crash test dummy

In the new study, the authors decided to revisit Fish’s work and explain the grouping of ducklings in terms of a unique phenomenon – wave interference. They found that the ducklings instinctively tended to “ride the waves” created by the mother duck to greatly reduce drag. What’s more, they were even able to keep the effect within the group using “wave transmission”.

Peace Prize

Specialists from nine countries Ig Nobel Prize 2022: Mayan alcohol enemas, constipation in scorpions and elk crash test dummyIg Nobel Prize 2022: Mayan alcohol enemas, constipation in scorpions and elk crash test dummy (China, Hungary, Canada, Netherlands, UK, Italy, Australia, Switzerland, USA won an award for developing an algorithm that helps gossipers decide when to tell the truth and when to lie .

The authors of the study set out to determine the propensity of people to be honest and dishonest in their gossip, based on behavioral modeling. In the end, the authors came to the conclusion that it all comes down to one rule: “gossipers should always be honest when there is a perfect match of interests, and dishonest when there is a perfect mismatch.” Overlapping situations require a more comprehensive assessment, but the authors recommend that choices be made after weighing the interdependence of feelings of self-worth with the recipient and goals, as well as the maximum benefit/harm that can be gained by being honest or dishonest in a particular situation.


The award was received by scientists from Italy for trying to explain from a mathematical point of view why success is most often achieved not by the most talented people, but by the happiest ones.

In Western culture, there is a strong belief that personal success is more dependent on personal qualities, in particular talent, intelligence, skills, perseverance, risk-taking, and old-fashioned hard work. At the same time, the role of luck in determining individual success is often ignored. The distribution of wealth follows a power law , among a large number of poor people and a few extremely wealthy billionaires. This, the authors state, “indicates that some hidden ingredient is at work behind the scenes.”

And that hidden ingredient, the authors of the study concluded, is random luck based on a simple agent-based model they themselves developed. So the “naive meritocracy” so prevalent in Western culture doesn’t really understand simple cause and effect relationships. Talent and hard work alone is not enough to succeed unless you manage to be in the right place at the right time.

Technical Safety Award

Swedish engineer Magnus Gens received another award for the development of a crash test dummy elk . He devoted an entire master’s thesis in 2001.

The problem of car collisions with moose is especially acute in Scandinavia, where a large population of these wild animals lives and fatal accidents often occur. According to Magnus Gens, there are about 13 such collisions every day in Sweden alone, more often in May with juveniles (200 kg versus 600 kg for an adult elk), when the female leaves her one-year-old offspring.

After preparatory 3D modeling, Gens created a crash-test dummy elk made of 116 rubber plates, supplemented with various steel components to hold the whole structure together. Gens tested the dummy in a series of crash tests with a newer Saab and an older Volvo. The first was moving at a speed of 72 km / h, and the second Saab – 92 km / h. The creator of the crash moose was pleased to find that “the crashed cars are very similar to those that actually collided with moose.” The dummy is strong enough and able to withstand more than one crash test.

The Ig Nobel Prize winners received their awards by mail – paper containers to store their great ideas and ten trillion Zimbabwean dollars (about 40 cents in US dollars) bills.

If suddenly you have some free time in the evening and want to extend your life a little, then here is the full recording of the broadcast.

Full recording of the broadcast of the Ig Nobel Prize-2022 ceremony

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