“Anti-Nobel”: Its toilets are equipped with… non-facial recognition


“But why does this word no longer mean anything?”, we ask ourselves after repeating it.


Licking stones when you are a geologist, repeating a word until you lose its meaning, imagining stool analysis toilets: here are some examples of the “research” rewarded by the 2023 anti-Nobels.

This competition, called Ig-Nobel – a play on words on “ignoble” in English – rewards “accomplishments that first make people laugh, then make them think”. The ceremony for the 23rd edition was broadcast online Thursday evening in American time.

Real Nobel Prize winners, some wearing extravagant hats, awarded the Ig-Nobels, which came with prizes worth ten billion billion Zimbabwean dollars. That is to say a value close to zero given the astronomical inflation in this African country.

The humorous science magazine Annals of Improbable Research presented the ten winners.

Stone lickers

The chemistry and geology prize went to Jan Zalasiewicz, a geologist at the University of Leicester (England), “for explaining why many scientists like to lick stones.” The laureate explained that he wrote his study entitled “Eating Fossils” after realizing that “18th century geologists used the taste of pebbles to better identify them”.

Why do geologists lick rocks, asked Jan Zalasiewicz.


Repeat words endlessly

In literature, an international team was rewarded “for the study of the sensations experienced by people repeating the same word many, many, many, many, many, many, many times”.

With the conclusion that this repetition made something familiar singular, and thus made it possible to reach a state of “never seen”, and not of “déjà vu”.

Reanimate spiders into robots

For the mechanical engineering prize, a US team ‘reanimated’ dead tarantulas to use their legs as pincers. With a supporting video showing dead spiders whose legs opened before grabbing a small object.

“Necrobotics” work involves using animal parts in robots, explained researchers at Rice University in Houston (United States).

Toilets for fecal analysis

Seung-min Park, at the American University of Stanford, distinguished himself with the public health prize for toilets capable of rapidly analyzing stools.


The “Stanford toilet bowl” even has an “anal fingerprint” sensor, capable of recognizing which individual the examined orifice belongs to, a bit like facial recognition software for smartphones.

The toilet invented by Seung-min Park can recognize who is sitting using facial recognition software.

The toilet invented by Seung-min Park can recognize who is sitting using facial recognition software.


Verlan speakers

The Ig-Nobel of Communication went to research on people who can speak backwards quickly. The recipients accepted their prize in verlan. The economist Esther Duflo, winner of the (real) Nobel in economics, suggested that researchers look into this very widespread practice in France.

Cadaveric hair

In medicine, researchers were distinguished for studying the number of hairs in the nostrils of cadavers. The figures vary from one deceased to another, but on average the left nostril contains 120 hairs compared to 112 for the right one.

An electric taste

The Japanese Hiromi Nakamura and Homei Miyashita distinguished themselves in the Nutrition category thanks to the development of electrified chopsticks and straws which enhance the taste of food and drinks.

“It helps increase the saltiness of the food,” Homei Miyashita said at the awards ceremony.

Hiromi Nakamura and Homei Miyashita invented electrified cutlery.

Hiromi Nakamura and Homei Miyashita invented electrified cutlery.


Boredom that bores

Teachers will have paid particular attention to the Education Prize awarded to researchers studying the effect they can have on their students if they appear bored.

“We discovered that if students thought their teachers were bored while teaching, then they were even more bored,” laureate Christian Chan announced in a tired tone.

Twisted neck

How many people passing by on a street will look up if they see other people craning their necks to look skyward? This is the subject of a study by American researchers who won the Ig-Nobel in psychology. Conclusion: the more people there are looking up, the more passers-by will imitate them.

Sex and anchovies

The Ig-Nobel in physics rewarded work seeking to measure whether “the mixing of ocean waters is affected by the sexual activity of anchovies”. “I think there is a consensus that it doesn’t matter,” lamented Bieito Fernandez Castro, one of the winners.




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