Knives made from feces and a new method to detect narcissists by their eyebrows won at the 2020 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. The prizes are awarded to research that makes "people laugh and then think."
Narcissist eyebrows, poop knives and an alligator on gas were among the topics of scientific studies honored with awards in this year's Ig Nobel Prizes held on Thursday.
The 30th edition of the satiric prize, which the organizers describe as honoring scientific achievements that "make people laugh and then think," took place online instead of the live event at Harvard University because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Among the winners of the 2020 prizes: A study by scientists from Austria, Sweden, Japan, the United States and Switzerland, involving a female Chinese alligator inside an airtight chamber filled with helium-enriched air — induced to bellow — won the "acoustics prize."
Metin Eren, an assistant professor of anthropology at Kent State University in Ohio and co-director of the university's Experimental Archaeology Lab, used real human feces and froze it to -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit) before filing it to a sharp edge. He then tried to cut meat with it.
Metin and his colleagues were inspired by the story of an Inuit man in Canada who made a knife out of his own feces.
"The poop knives failed miserably,'' he said in a telephone interview, AP news agency reported. "There's not a lot of basis empirically for this fantastic story.''
But there was an important message behind the study that one the citation for "materials science."
"The point of this was to show that evidence and fact-checking are vital," he said.
The "psychology prize" was awarded to a group of Canadian and American researchers who devised a method to detect narcissists using an eyebrow examination.
A US researcher won the entomology prize for his collection of evidence that entomologists — those who study insects — are afraid of spiders.
The "medical education" prize was given to the leaders of Brazil, Britain, India, Mexico, Belarus, the US, Turkey, Russia and Turkmenistan for "using the COVID-19 viral pandemic to teach the world that politicians can have a more immediate effect on life and death than scientists and doctors can."
The leaders of these countries have been criticized for downplaying the significance of the pandemic.
dvv/sms (AP, dpa)