Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony 2020
You may see knives made from steel, wood
or ceramics. But how about poop knives? This may sound a bit strange, but a
study based on the idea earned a group of researchers this year’s Ig Nobel
Prize for Materials Science on Sept 17.
Since high school, US anthropology
professor Metin Eren had heard the story of an Inuit man in Canada who made a
knife out of his own waste and used it regularly. In order to test it out, Eren
and his co-workers got a hold of human poop and fashioned a knife out of it.
They froze it to the temperature of -50℃ and sharpened the edge.
After making the knife, they tried to
cut meat with it. Unfortunately, they failed copying the fantastic story of
“Though the study is a little gross, it
makes an important point: There are a lot of narratives out there based on
stories or unproven science, Eren said. “The point of this was to show that
evidence and fact checking are vital.”
"It’s an honour to be recognised,”
Eren said, “I’ve followed the Ig Nobels my entire life. It’s a dream come true.
The Ig Nobel Prize, a spoof of the
famous Nobel Prize, exists to honor “[humorous] achievements that first make
people laugh, and then make them think”, The Guardian reported.
The 30th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize
ceremony happened entirely online, September 17, 2020. Because of COVID-19,
2020 was the first year that we have held it only online. In a ceremony held
online, rather than at Harvard University as usual, 10 awards were handed out
for notable achievements in physics, peace, psychology, economics, medicine and
more. In lieu of a handsome windfall and medal, the winners received a paper
cube and a £10tn dollar bill from Zimbabwe.
This year’s awards included a physics
prize for work that recorded the shapes earthworms adopt when vibrated at high
Chris Watkins, a psychologist at the
University of Abertay in UK, shared the economics prize. His research found
that french kissing was more common between partners in areas of high income
The psychology prize went to researchers
who discovered a way to identify narcissists from their eyebrows. “It’s
exciting, it’s a fun award,” said Miranda Giacomin, who worked on the study at
MacEwan University in Alberta, Canada. Her work built on research that found
people could sometimes spot narcissists from their facial features. The eyebrows,
Giacomin suggests, are key.
Stephan Reber, Takeshi Nishimura, Judith
Janisch, Mark Robertson, and Tecumseh Fitch, for inducing a female Chinese
alligator to bellow in an airtight chamber filled with helium-enriched air.
Richard Vetter, a retired researcher at
the University of California, Riverside, claimed the entomology prize for
gathering case studies on arachnophobia among insect experts. He concluded that
fear of spiders from an early age was not overcome by a career handling
Yet another gong went to Dutch and Belgian
researchers for laying out the diagnosis for misophonia – the distress
experienced on hearing another person chew – and showing that talking therapy
helps treat it.