Since 1991, the Ig Nobel Prizes have selected 10 unusual, trivial, or utterly bizarre scientific studies that, in the words of the creators, “first make people laugh, and then make them think.” Now in its 28th year, it continues to deliver awards to truly "improbable research."
Picking a favorite from this year is certainly difficult. A team from Portugal has measured to what degree human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces. For that, they were awarded the Chemistry Prize. The Anthropology Prize goes to a European team for noticing that in a zoo chimpanzees imitate humans just as much humans imitates chimpanzees.
Of interest to many, there is a study about how people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual. The authors were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for Literature thanks to this research.
The winners of the Biology Prize tested the skills of professional wine tasters by looking at how they are capable of smelling the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine. In an even less palatable study, archeologist James Cole estimated the caloric intake of eating human flesh. It turns out we are not very nutritious compared to other animals. But as with all the studies, there is a serious reason behind the research.
Cannibalism is pretty common throughout human history and it is often assumed that humans have eaten each other for nutritional reasons. This study shows that this is likely not the case, earning the Ig Nobel Prize for Nutrition.
Delving into human aggression are the winners of this year's Economics and Peace Prizes. Peace goes to a Spanish and Colombian team who measured the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting while driving. They highlight how aggression while driving is tolerated as something inevitable, but also note that it poses a risk.