On September 17th, the 30th Ceremony of the Ig Nobel Prize took place virtually. Although the ceremony might seem like a joke, it is actually a real prize ceremony with real scientists to recognize overlooked research that "makes you laugh, then think". But how do you deliver a prize virtually?
The answer is that you make the winner build it! Unlike the Nobel Prize, which is honored with a medal, a diploma, and 9 million Swedish kronas (over $1 million USD), the Ig Nobel usually gives out a certificate, a crafty trophy, and a $10 trillion Zimbabwean bill. But in the virtual reality of 2020, the prizes were all self-assembled by the winners following the instructions sent out in a PDF.
This year's winners did research on a crocodile’s voice before and after inhaling helium, how people from countries with more income inequality kiss more often, "poop knives", and arachnophobic entomologists. A very well-deserved prize for Medical Education was also awarded to several political leaders for their mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you think this is mocking the "real" Nobel prize, you'd be surprised to know that actual Nobel Laureates deliver the Ig-Nobel prizes to the winners. During the ceremony, former winners, Nobel laureates, and other invited scientists deliver 24/7 lectures. They have 24 seconds to explain their research, and then they explain it again in a way that anyone can understand in just 7 words. Dr. Elena Bodnar made an appearance again this year with the invention that made her win the Ig-Nobel back in 2009: a bra that turns into protective face masks.
I'd highly recommend watching the ceremony, which demonstrates just how ingenious, sometimes disgusting, and very funny scientists can be.