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The Ig Nobel Prizes Are Back With Winners in Cat Purring and Inverted Rhinos Studies

Could humans have evolved beards to protect themselves from punches to the face? The winners of the peace prize seem to think so.

The 2021 edition of the Ig Nobel Prizes is here and it's as comical and entertaining as it is every year. The prizes are handed out for "achievements that first make people laugh, then think." There's a total of 10 prizes, and they are all as hilarious as they are interesting.

The Biology prize was given to Susanne Schötz for analyzing methods of cat-human communication. The award pointed to five individual studies which makes us surprised that someone could research and write that much on cat purring.

The ecology prize went to Leila Satari, Alba Guillén, Àngela Vidal-Verdú, and Manuel Porcar, who used genetic analysis to identify the different types of bacteria found in chewing gum stuck on pavements in different countries. Gross but insightful!

The chemistry prize was awarded to Jörg Wicker, Nicolas Krauter, Bettina Derstroff, Christof Stönner, Efstratios Bourtsoukidis, Achim Edtbauer, Jochen Wulf, Thomas Klüpfel, Stefan Kramer, and Jonathan Williams, who chemically analyzed the air inside movie theaters, to evaluate "whether the odors produced by an audience reliably indicate the levels of violence, sex, antisocial behavior, drug use, and bad language in the movie the audience is watching."

Perhaps most notably, the peace prize went to Ethan Beseris, Steven Naleway, and David Carrier, for examining the hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from punches to the face. Could that really be the case?

The medicine prize went to Olcay Cem Bulut, Dare Oladokun, Burkard Lippert, and Ralph Hohenberger, who were able to demonstrate proof that sexual orgasms can function as decongestants and improve nasal breathing.

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The transportation prize went to Robin Radcliffe, Mark Jago, Peter Morkel, Estelle Morkel, Pierre du Preez, Piet Beytell, Birgit Kotting, Bakker Manuel, Jan Hendrik du Preez, Michele Miller, Julia Felippe, Stephen Parry, and Robin Gleed, for evaluating through experiments whether it is safer to transport an airborne rhinoceros upside-down. Because that's very useful in real life!

There were also prizes given in economics, physics, kinetics, and entomology. If these examples thus far have piqued your curiosity, you can watch the whole awards here:

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