Physics

Most cancers-preventing pizza, deceased magnetic cockroaches, and cube-shaped poop discoveries honored within the 2019 Ig Nobel Prizes


The 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was held in September at Harvard College, the place the world’s prime thinkers gathered to rejoice the yr’s strangest scientific advances. The competitors was fierce. The particles within the air have been ionized by the sheer dynamicity of it.

 Science, at occasions, could be a little stuffy. Scientists, then again, may be exceedingly ridiculous folks. In recognition of the latter, the Ig Nobel Prizes acknowledge achievements that make folks snigger…then assume. Typically science solutions questions concerning the basic wonders of our galaxy, however different occasions, it solutions far smaller and weirder questions. Yearly, 10 prizes are awarded to scientists with discoveries which might be exceedingly eccentric.

Paper airplane competitors on the 2019 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony (credit score: Inconceivable Analysis)
 The ceremony itself is a slightly unusual affair. It begins as all distinguished ceremonies do, with a paper airplane competitors, the place viewers members should intention for a helmet-clad human goal on stage:

 Let’s take a better take a look at this yr’s winners:

 Medication: Pizza can shield in opposition to most cancers

 Right here’s the catch, it’s not simply any frozen pizza, that pizza should be from Italy. The discovering is the results of three papers revealed by Silvano Gallus and a workforce of meals scientists over the course of some years that confirmed Italian pizza eaters have been at a decrease threat of creating sure persistent diseases. The pizza itself isn’t wholesome, however in Italy at the least, it could be indicative of a sure life-style. In line with Gallus, consuming Italian pizza with native components is an efficient indicator of following a Mediterranean eating regimen based mostly on native meals.

 Medical training: Clicker coaching is nice for coaching canines, and orthopedic surgeons!

 Clickers have lengthy been used as a instrument to coach varied varieties of animals. It lets an animal know they’re doing properly in a concise and concrete approach. It seems that people want that too. By merely saying “good” in a impartial tone, surgeons can higher be taught vital strategies. Dr. Martin Levy examined this habits with residents, discovering that those that acquired optimistic reinforcement tended to grasp ideas greater than those that didn’t.

 Biology: Lifeless magnetized cockroaches behave otherwise than residing magnetized cockroaches

 Okay so clearly a lifeless cockroach behaves otherwise than a reside cockroach, however particularly, the magnetic fields additionally behave otherwise. So why do they do that, and why is that necessary? The researchers wished to know how some animals detect magnetic fields, which may inform biologically-inspired sensors. A detection mechanism stays elusive, however the discovery is fascinating nonetheless. In celebration of the award, scientists threw rubber cockroaches on the viewers. So festive.

 Chemistry: An estimation of the entire saliva manufacturing for the common five-year-old

 Loads. Particularly, 500 ml per day. The research in query was carried out over 35 years in the past in Japan, led by a professor of pediatric dentistry Shigeru Watanabe. Accompanied by his two sons (who participated within the research of kids), Watanabe accepted the award and demonstrated the correct strategy to accumulate saliva. Endurance is the important thing.

Marc Abrahams, a co-founder of the Annals of Inconceivable Analysis, holding a coveted Ig Nobel Prize trophy (Credit score: Reuters).
 Engineering: The diaper-changing machine

 Persevering with on with the youngsters theme, mechanical engineering professor Iman Farahbakhsh on the Islamic Azad College gained this yr’s engineering prize, which not solely adjustments diapers but additionally washes infants. For everybody that has wished that altering diapers was as straightforward as washing dishes, the time is lastly right here. The patent is accepted, so keep tuned!

 Peace: Quantifying the pleasure of scratching an itch

 Why is it that scratching an itch feels so good? And why are some physique elements extra gratifying to scratch than others? A workforce led by scientist Ghada A. bin Saif have been learning persistent circumstances that drive sufferers to uncontrollably scratch, and which areas are most affected. Seems, if you happen to’re feeling itchy, scratching your ankle will really feel the perfect, compared to different itches.

 Economics: Figuring out which foreign money is the perfect at transmitting micro organism

 If you happen to’re seeking to develop micro organism, look no additional than your individual pockets. Foreign money is extensively identified for being an environment friendly transporter of all varieties of germs, nevertheless it seems that some are extra environment friendly than others. As a result of Romanian banknotes are manufactured from polymers, and never textile fibers, they supply a greater habitat for sure varieties of micro organism. If you happen to’re a bacterium and also you’re studying this, take be aware.

 Psychology: Placing a pen in your mouth makes you happier…simply kidding no it doesn’t

 If you happen to have been to place a pen in your mouth, you’ll must drive your muscle mass right into a quasi-smile. In line with some psychologists, the straightforward act of smiling, whether or not you need to or not. Will make you happier. No less than that’s what German psychologist Fritz Strack discovered within the 80s. In 2016, he tried to recreate his experiment and located that this isn’t essentially the case, proving himself improper. In carefully-controlled experiments, this can be the case, however within the chaos of actual life, not a lot.

 Physics: How wombats make cubed-shaped poop

Lastly, let’s get to the physics, the physics of…poop.

Wombats use poop to mark their territory. Due to its cubic form, it’s much less prone to roll away, however till just lately, researchers had no thought why. Final yr, on the annual assembly of the APS Fluid Dynamics division in Atlanta, researchers introduced a brand new thought. All of it has to to with the low elasticity of their intestines, which assist constrict the waste to its distinctive form.

All for listening to extra about these discoveries? Take a look at the webcast of the ceremony!

 –Lissie Connors

 Lissie Connors is a graduate scholar learning volcanoes on the College of Oregon. She frequently contributes to PhysicsBuzz, writing about something from theoretical universes, to the nexus of nuclear physics and mayonnaise.


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