Every September, the Ig Nobel Prizes "honor achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK," and are intended to celebrate "the unusual, honor the imaginative, and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology." While the official ceremony is held at Harvard's Sanders Theatre, this September marked the inauguration of the Ig Nobel Prizes Exhibition located inside Tokyo's Dome Complex.
Organized by scientific humor magazine The Annals of Improbable Research, the term "Ig Nobel" is a pun on the word "ignoble," defined by Merriam-Webster as "characterized by baseness, lowness, or meanness."
Theis year's winners featured plenty of zany studies and inventions, including Akira Horiuchi's medical report, "Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy." Horiuchi demonstrated his do-it-yourself colonoscopy in front of the Agence France-Presse, saying that he had never found his method embarrassing. "I knew the importance of colonoscopy and that the number of colon cancer patients was increasing," Horiuchi told AFP.
According to the National Cancer Center, cancer of the colon is the most seen form of the disease among Japan's 870,000 cancer patients.
"Not many people took the test...so I wanted to create an examination that would be accepted by everyone," said Horiuchi.
The exhibit also featured a "babypod" that is inserted into pregnant women in order to play music for unborn babies, as the researchers' study "Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginal Music Emission" found that it was more effective than simply playing the music on the woman's stomach.
Then there was the canine translation device dubbed the "Bowlingual", which divided dogs' barks into six emotional categories: frustration, menace, joy, sorrow, desire, and self-expression. It was produced as a collaboration between Japanese toy company Takara, the Japan Acoustic Lab, and the Kogure Veterinary Hospital.
Other prize winners investigated topics like "Can a cat be both a solid and a liquid?" "What's the nutritional value of a cannibal diet?" and "Can rollercoaster rides remove kidney stones?" among others.
Ig Prize founder Marc Abrahams told reporters in Tokyo that Japanese researchers often take home prizes because there are "many eccentric people" in the country. "In most of the world, when people behave in very eccentric ways, that's considered to be a very bad thing. In Japan and also in the UK, it's different," Abrahams said.
"You don't kill your eccentrics. You love them," he said, pointing out that adoration as the reason why Japan and the UK have long been "inventing so many clever, crazy, wonderful things."
"I thought I was an eccentric. But I now know there are many people like me in Japan," Dr. Horiuchi chimed in.
What do you make of these kooky inventions? Do you think they have legitimate applications and uses, or are they simply novelty items meant to get a chuckle? Let us know in the comments down below!