May 29, 2024
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Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

It’s once again that time of year when we talk about the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony—an actual ceremony, held in Massachusetts, that celebrates the head-scratching scientific discoveries that are ignored by the so-called “Nobel Prize Committee,” because they did not get into the business to be entertaining.

But the Ig Nobel Prizes are no less real. Along with a trophy, the winners get an all-expenses-paid trip to the ceremony—with all expenses paid by the winners themselves—as well as $10 trillion dollars of Zimbabwe, which comes out to about 40 cents American, that they can put toward paying their airfare, if they so choose.

Therefore, so as not to waste these people’s time any longer, let’s dive right into it, so they can get home:

The prize for Medicine this year went to scientists in Italy, “for collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illnesses such as cancer and myocardial infarction.” Myocardial infarction is Italian for “heart attacks.”

The science doesn’t work at all. Pizza is bad for everything that might cause a heart attack, but apparently it prevents the actual heart attack. But this is why kids, who eat nothing but pizza, rarely have heart attacks. This is also why Jews, baruch Hashem, have always been on a strict diet of eating pizza every Motzei Shabbat. And also Thursday night. And in the Nine Days, which are inauspicious times. You can’t be too careful.

Meanwhile, the prize for Medical Education went to some scientists in the United States for using a simple animal-training technique—called “clicker training”—to teach surgeons to perform orthopedic surgery. Because giving them treats wasn’t working. Nor was patting them on the head when they did a good surgery.

Clicker training is a process in which, when an animal does something right, you click a little device immediately so the animal can pinpoint exactly what he did right. Otherwise, the animal is left wondering, “What are you rewarding me for, exactly? I just did 10 things.”

But this process works on animals, so they figured, “Why not try this on humans?”

And you’re going to say, “Because humans understand words.” But how specific are anyone’s words? How many times have you done something wrong, where someone—and we mean your wife—has yelled at you, and you didn’t know specifically what she was yelling at you about?

“Don’t do that!”

“Don’t do what? I just did 10 things!”

But if she presses a button on a clicker, you have a better idea. And then she can give you a treat. So in this case, the teachers would click immediately and then put a treat in the doctors’ mouths, because their hands are otherwise occupied.

The prize for Biology this year went to scientists in six different countries “for discovering that dead magnetized cockroaches behave differently than living magnetized cockroaches.”

Obviously. But now it’s been scientifically proven.

I’m surprised the living magnetized cockroaches behave at all.

I love how the magnetization itself is glossed over. The scientists magnetized cockroaches. But who cares? We want to know if the living ones are now different than the dead ones. Because they were different before, so now we want to see if they’re still different.

And if you can’t understand the benefits of magnetizing cockroaches, you’ve never seen one scurry under a fridge. So now you can watch them scurry up the fridge. Except for the dead ones. And you can also use them as magnets to hold up your kids’ craft projects.

To conduct the study, the scientists put roaches up on their fridge. The live roaches lost their magnetism in 50 minutes, at which point they fell off or tried to make off with the fruit magnets. The dead ones took 47.5 hours to fall. So we’re a long way away from using dead roaches as magnets for more than two days at a time. Which makes them perfect for craft projects you don’t really want to keep for that long.

“What happened to my project?”

“I don’t know. Check under the fridge… No, don’t.”

The Ig Nobel Peace Prize this year went to a team of researchers in England, Saudi Arabia and Singapore “for trying to measure the pleasurability of scratching an itch.” Until now, they’d been measuring it scientifically with a chart of little faces. Our entire lives, our parents have been telling us that we shouldn’t scratch, but based on this new research, we can decide on our own if it’s worth the downsides.

Basically, they ranked the ankles the most pleasurable to scratch, followed by the back, and then the forearm. And they are wrong. The back is clearly the most pleasurable, and they didn’t even mention that itch in your inner ear where you have to vibrate your pinky and clear your throat at the same time.

The prize for Engineering this year went to Iman Farahbakhsh of Iran, “for inventing and patenting a diaper-changing machine for use on human infants.”

As opposed to what other species?

America may be the greatest country, but I can’t believe Iran is ahead of us in the things that matter.

The machine works, they say, along the same lines as a standard dishwasher. Basically, it’s a machine for under your kitchen counter, or possibly next to your washer/dryer, that you can put your kid into, leaving your hands free to play with your fridge magnets. And the only downside is that later in life, your child will have an unexplained fear of taking showers.

But that’s just a small price to pay. Because now, finally, instead of fighting about diapers, parents could have fights about whose turn it is to put the baby in the dishwasher.

That said, he should have also won the Peace prize.

The device isn’t on the market yet, so we still have to work out the details in regards to putting the baby in there for after Shabbat.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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