The researchers received the Ig Noble 2023, and the winner was Jan Zalasiewicz – a geologist with Polish roots who explains why scientists lick rocks. He also received a mocking award, among others: a toilet seat that recognizes its owner by the imprint of a butt or a zombie robot.
The Ig Nobel 2023 gala has just been held – famous awards that are supposed to summarize recent scientific achievements in a mocking way. This year, scientists were also in a good mood, because they prepared truly surprising initiatives.
Ig Noble 2023 awarded – smart toilet, dead robots and rock licking
In the health category, the award went to a smart toilet that may be… too smart. The toilet seat of the future has numerous built-in sensors and tests that immediately examine the excrement and monitor the user’s health.
The device developed at Stanford University also automatically detects even a few people using a space toilet, although it is done in a rather outrageous way. There is a camera mounted at the bottom that detects the “anal print” of the user. It is supposed to be as unique to humans as a fingerprint.
The next prize was awarded for answering an extremely important question: why do scientists lick rocks? This is a common custom, especially among geologists – explains British geologist Jan Zalasiewicz in the article “Eating Rocks” (his Polish parents escaped from Siberia with Anders’ army).
As it turns out, researchers lick specimens, among others. to detect specific minerals in them, as some of them are much more visible when the surface is wetted. Apparently, among old-school geologists, it’s almost a reflex that they don’t give much thought to. 200 years ago, rocks were also identified by taste, but this method is now abandoned.
Another interesting fact is the zombie robots from Rice University. Scientists there are experimenting with spiders that can serve as extremely strong and precise grippers even after death. Researchers use the natural hydraulic mechanisms of the arachnid body.
Ig Noble – a strange tradition in the world of science
The Ig Nobel competition is organized every year by the humorous science magazine Annals of Improbable Research, and the jury is supposed to highlight research that is “first intended to make you laugh, then think.”
Winners can count on a trophy and a cash prize, just like in the case of real Nobel Prizes. In the spirit of the initiative, these are also mocking. The winning teams receive 10 trillion dollars (10,000,000,000,000)… unfortunately those from Zimbabwe.