Episode 64: Laugh, Learn, and Ig Nobel: The Weirdest Science Awards

weird science Ig Noble 2023

Science is often perceived as a serious and rigorous field, filled with groundbreaking discoveries and complex theories. However, there is also a lighthearted and humorous side to the scientific community that often goes unnoticed. The Ig Nobel Prizes, an annual event that honors scientific achievements that make you laugh and think, highlights this quirkier aspect of scientific research. 

Here, we will delve into the fascinating world of the Ig Nobel Prizes, exploring three winners from this year’s ceremony and celebrating the unique blend of humor and intellect they represent.

1. Licking Rocks - The Chemistry and Geology Ig Nobel Prize:

Ever wondered why many geologists have a penchant for licking rocks? Thanks to Jan Zalasiewicz from Poland and the UK, we now have an answer. In his essay titled “Eating Fossils,” Zalasiewicz humorously delves into the tradition of geologists licking rocks and explains that wet rocks reveal more detail under a hand lens compared to dry rocks. While modern tools like microscopes have made this practice unnecessary, it seems that some geologists still indulge in the taste test. This comical research highlights the unique quirks within various scientific disciplines.

2. The Peculiar Feeling of Jamie Vu - The Literature Ig Nobel Prize:

Turns out, it’s not just déjà vu that occurs in our lives. Jamie vu, the feeling of unfamiliarity with something we have experienced or seen before, is a phenomenon that has intrigued researchers. The winners of the Literature Ig Nobel Prize conducted a study where participants repeatedly copied the word “the” until it no longer felt familiar. 

What’s fascinating is that this eerie feeling is often associated with epilepsy and migraines. By shedding light on Jamie vu, this research showcases the intriguing aspects of human perception and memory.

3. Reviving Dead Spiders for Mechanical Gripping Tools - The Mechanical Engineering Ig Nobel Prize:

If you thought dead spiders were of no use, think again. This Ig Nobel Prize-winning research delved into reanimating deceased spiders to study their gripping capabilities. Led by researchers who clearly possess a unique sense of humor, this peculiar study explored the mechanical properties of spider legs and their potential applications in gripping tools. 

While this research may raise a few eyebrows, it also reminds us that scientific exploration can often be unexpected and delightfully strange.


he Ig Nobel Prizes play a crucial role in celebrating the fusion of humor and scientific curiosity. Through their recognition of unconventional and amusing research, these awards remind us that science is not limited to the realm of seriousness and that laughter can coexist with intellectual exploration. 

The winners of this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes, from geologists who lick rocks to researchers inducing jamais vu, exemplify the spirit of the scientific community – a group of individuals committed to pushing the boundaries of knowledge while maintaining a sense of wonder and joy.

If you enjoyed this then consider checking out our previous Ig Noble prize episode as well.

You can also follow Improbable Research here , and check out there website and everything else from the Ig Noble prize on their website here.

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