No, really, it’s easier than it might seem! You don’t have to discover an element or write the next great “American Novel” in order to be recognized. For those of you nerds who can mix work and play in equal measure, the Ig Nobel Prize may be for you.
Standing for “Ignoble” Nobel Prize, this award was made to “honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.” In other words, these guys are looking for research that might seem silly at first, but is useful in atypical and enjoyable ways. If you think researching quantum theories and disease microbes sounds boring and still want to discover something worthy of an award, maybe you should give one of these a try!
For Physics Majors: “Can Cats Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?”
Physicist Marc Antoine-Fardin explores this idea using his knowledge of fluid dynamics and rheology. As it turns out, cats aren’t just isolated rheological systems, but as subjects that can absorb stresses from their surroundings. Maybe not the best idea if you’re a cat person, but who could resist?!
For Pre-Meds: “The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study”
Why on earth would anyone hate cheese, you may ask? It’s an epidemic that needs answering to, and that a team of French doctors addressed using advanced brain-scanning technology. According to this award-winning team, there are substantial neurobiological response differences between people who are disgusted by cheese and those of us *cough* normal people who are not.
How would you market and sell products to the untapped geologic demographic? Economists Mark Avis and Sarah Forbes try to tackle exactly this. According to the researchers, “each of the rock stimuli has a distinct brand personality… and that personality is developed from sometimes surprisingly detailed personifications.” To say the least, this finding certainly puts competitors between a rock and hard place.
For Animal Science Majors: “Response Behaviors of Svalbard Reindeer towards Humans and Humans Disguised as Polar Bears on Edgeøya”
This one’s exactly what it sounds like– scientists dressing up as polar bears and trying to confuse reindeer. Researchers found that reindeer were more likely to flee more quickly and run further away when confronted with a human dressed as a polar bear versus a human dressed in dark hiking gear. Why don’t you grab a polar bear onesie and participate?
For Psych Majors: “Seeing Jesus in Toast: Neural and Behavioral Correlates of Face Pareidolia”
Odds are that if you’ve been studying too long (or partying too long, who’s to say…) you’ve probably seen Jesus in toast at some point or another. This effect is called Pareidolia– it’s when your brain sees a familiar pattern (like a face!) when it’s not actually there. So why not kick back, relax, and enjoy a slice while you ponder the human mind?
Long story short, there’s something for everyone. Whether it’s cheese or polar bears, there’s research out there for any conceivable subject. Just think of that the next time you’re hauling off to the library, or get to choose your own research topic!