Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The winners of the tongue-in-cheek Ig Nobel prizes for this year include the developers of robot zombie spiders, a smart toilet, research into rock licking and an analysis of nose hair numbers.
The 33rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes, awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research and presented by real Nobel Prize laureates, were given out in an online ceremony that featured the theme of water and included the performance of a "mini-non-opera" on the subject.
The awards are given out for "achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think."
The winner of this year's Chemistry and Geology Prize was University of Leicester researcher Jan Zalasiewicz for his research into "why many scientists like to lick rocks." Zalasiewicz said there are accounts of 18th century geologists using their sense of taste to identify rocks and other minerals.
The Mechanical Engineering Prize went to a team from Houston's Rice University who pioneered the field of "necrobotics" by reanimating the corpses of dead wolf spiders to use as mechanical grabbing tools.
The Literature Prize was awarded to an international team "for studying the sensations people feel when they repeat a single word many, many, many, many, many, many, many times." The study looked into how repetition leads to a feeling of jamais vu, in which something familiar begins to feel unfamiliar.
Seung-min Park of Stanford University was awarded the Public Health Prize for the development of a "smart toilet" that that analyzes human waste to identify health issues and recognizes a user by identifying their unique "anal print."
The Communication Prize was given to an international team who studied the brains of people who are experts at backward talking, and the Nutrition Prize went to a Japanese team for developing electrified chopsticks and straws to make foods and beverages taste saltier.
The Medicine Prize went to a team who examined "whether there is an equal number of hairs in each of a person's two nostrils." The team examined the noses of cadavers and found an average 120 hairs in the left nostril and 112 hairs in the right.
The Education Prize went to a team who studied boredom in teachers and students, the Psychology Prize went to a study on how many passers-by will stop to look up when they see strangers looking up and the Physics Prize went to a team who studied the "extent to which ocean-water mixing is affected by the sexual activity of anchovies."