Ig Nobel Prize winners: Self-colonoscopy, roller-coaster kidney stones

A Harvard University ceremony featuring two massive paper airplane launches honored funny but practical scientific studies. In 2018, the annual awards included a worthless cash prize handed out by real Nobel laureates.

The comfort of a home colonoscopy, the benefits of taking out anger aimed at a boss on a voodoo doll and cannibalism's lack of nutritional benefits were all scientific discoveries that received Ig Nobel Prizes on Thursday in a laughter and music-filled ceremony at Harvard University.

The annual prize series honors 10 comical but practical scientific studies "that first make people laugh, and then make them think." The prize is run by Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), an international scientific humor magazine that satirizes traditional academic journals, and seeks to raise public attention about science.

The event was broadcast live on YouTube and will later air on American National Public Radio.

The recipients of the 2018 Ig Nobel Prize came to Cambridge, Massachusetts, from all over the world — at their own expense — to be honored for the research in a quirky ceremony. They also received a worthless cash prize of 10 trillion Zimbabwean dollars.

People don't read instructions

Among the awardees on Thursday night was Lindie Liang, a Canadian business professor studying workplace aggression, who took home the economic prize. She determined that allowing workers to take out aggression at their boss through a virtual voodoo doll led to the workers feeling better because "their injustice perceptions are deactivated."

James Cole, a British archaeology lecturer, determined that despite the accepted perception behind human cannibalism, human flesh is not actually calorie-dense.

"We're not super nutritious," the recipient of the nutrition prize said.

Read more: UK chocolate bad for environment, study finds

Dr. Akira Horiuchi, a Japanese pediatrician, was honored with the medical education prize for his at-home, seated self-colonoscopy procedure, while a group of Spanish traffic researchers took home an Ig for measuring the frequency, motivation and effects of shouting and cursing while driving. The team, which found that one in four drivers yells or curses behind the wheel, won the Ig peace prize.

Other prize categories included medicine (kidney stones can be passed more quickly on roller-coasters) and literature (most users of high-tech products don't read the instruction manuals).

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David Wartinger (R) accepted his prize from physics Nobel laureate Wolfgang Ketterle (L) for his work on passing kidney stones on roller-coasters

Traditional humorous ceremony

The theme of this year's ceremony, which took place in Harvard's Sanders Theater, was the heart. The event included the premiere of "The Broken Heart Opera" as well as the traditional paper airplane deluge.

AIR and Ig award founder Marc Abrahams emceed the evening while actual Nobel Prize laureates handed out the awards to the winners.

The winners' speeches were kept to a strict 60-second time limit, with 8-year-old Dorothea Hartig as "Miss Sweetie-Poo" interrupting them with her annually-repeated complaint, "Please stop. I'm bored."

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21-second potty break

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Earth's magnetic field shows the way

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Is yawning among red-footed tortoises contagious?

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Slipping on banana peel

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Depressing cat bites

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Solutions against hijackers

The 2013 prize for Security Engineering went to the inventor of a fully automated hijacker disposal device. The culprit falls into a trap, gets bundled up as a handy package by a wrapping machine and then dropped out of the plane on a parachute. This would save the police SWAT-team a lot of work in cases like the hijacking of the German plane "Landshut" in Mogadishu in 1977.

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Seeing Jesus in toast

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Dung beetles look to the stars

In 2013 there was a joint prize for biology and astronomy: An international team found out that dung beetles looked to the shining light of the Milky Way for orientation when the moon was absent. When the sky was clear, the beetles were able to walk a straight line. As soon as the sky was overcast they lost all sense of direction.

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Hunting whale-breath with drones

The 2010 Engineering award went to the American inventors of a special drone for whale-watching. But the drone that was used to fly closely over the whales' heads also had another task: whale smelling. The breath coming out of the animals' nostrils includes bacteria, the amount of which marine biologists are measuring. Beautiful pictures like this one were a by-product of the research.