Nobel laureates perplexedly participated in an onstage experiment that was neither explained nor described — but it apparently had something to do with tickling. Probably.
Go with the flow
Another of the 24/7 lecturers delivering bite-sized science sound bytes was aerospace engineer and science communicator Nicole Sharp, who spoke about fluid dynamics. Her seven-word summary: "If it can flow, we study it."
A pile of bullsh*t
Bullsh*t may be common in life, but the dynamics of bullsh*t have historically evaded analysis, according to the winners of the Ig Nobel Peace Prize. They sought to correct that imbalance by testing how people judged statements that seemed profound, but were actually gibberish punctuated with important-sounding buzzwords. At the same time, they significantly raised the bar for the number of times that the word "bullsh*t" was used in a scientific study.
Tic Tock Toe
Games of Tic "Tock" Toe — so-named to acknowledge the "Time" theme of this year's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony — pitted a neurosurgeon against a NASA scientist, and a team of Nobel Prize laureates against a trio of roller derby players. The laureates and derby athletes were closely matched, and a tied game was resolved only after three extremely tense rounds of "Rock, Paper, Scissors."
Not kidding around
Thomas Thwaites, one of two winners awarded the Ig Nobel Biology Prize, took an extreme approach in response to the pressures of everyday life — he donned unwieldy prosthetics that allowed him to move like a goat, and roamed the Alps on all fours. While the artificial limbs may have granted him goat-like movement, they understandably hindered his ability to perform certain activities typically associated with humans, such as accepting an Ig Nobel award.
Atsuki Higashiyama, a professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, delivered a few words about receiving the Ig Nobel Perception Prize, for a study that asked whether things look different if you look at them while bending over and peering through your legs. Before his acceptance speech, Higashiyama tested his hypothesis onstage, dipping at the waist and surveying the audience as they appeared upside-down.
A different perspective
Inspired by Atsuki Higashiyama, Nobel laureates conducted their own onstage investigations of his prize-winning hypothesis — that things look different if you look at them while upside down.
As the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony wound to a close, singers delivered the final act of the miniopera "The Last Second," ticking off endless leap seconds in a day without end. Nobel laureates made a final appearance, joining the chorus semicircle and holding signs identifying themselves as innocent bystanders in the evil plot, if a bit "confused" by the unraveling of time's fabric.
But judging by the cheers and applause that met the performance, there was no confusion on the audience's part — the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was an unqualified success.