Studies into roller coasters as medicine, voodoo and cannibalism win IG Nobel Prizes

Akira Horiuchi (R) demonstrates his research at the 2018 IG Nobel ceremony.
Akira Horiuchi (R) demonstrates his research at the 2018 IG Nobel ceremony. Copyright REUTERS/Brian Snyder
By Alice Tidey
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button

The awards — a parody of the revered Nobel prizes — are handed out to scientific research that makes people laugh and think.


The medical benefits of roller-coasters, the efficiency of voodoo dolls to deal with workplace bullying and the dietary value of cannibalism were all the subject of research rewarded at the prestigious IG Nobel Prize on Thursday.

A spoof of the revered Nobel prizes, the IG awards are handed out to celebrate scientific research that makes people think but also laugh.

Ten gongs were distributed during a ceremony in Harvard's Sanders Theatre on Thursday. 

Euronews takes a look at some of the winning research.


The prize was awarded to two US researchers who recommend that people suffering with kidney stones — hard deposits of minerals and salt forming inside kidneys — go on a roller-coaster ride. They conducted the research after a number of patients reported spontaneously passing the stones after riding the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Florida.

To prove whether it was true or not, the researchers built a model of a real patients' stones and took it on 20 rides. Conclusion: it works. Little tip: "The rear seating position on the roller coaster led to the most renal calculi passages."


A British researcher was honoured with the prize for proving that animal meat is more calorific "in terms of energy returns" than...human meat. The research was conducted to assess the dietary value of prehistoric cannibalistic episodes and not modern-day practices.

Medical education

Japanese scientist Akira Horiuchi scooped that prize for his research into the feasibility of self-colonoscopy.

The procedure, usually performed by a specialist physician, is done as part of screening programmes for colon cancer and involves a four-foot long, flexible tube, equipped with light and a camera, to be inserted into the colon through the rectum.

Horiuchi explained to the BBC that his "Colonoscopy in the sitting position: lessons learned from self-colonoscopy by using a small-calibre, variable stiffness colonoscope" research had a "serious purpose."

"People, especially in Japan, are afraid of colonoscopy and they do not want to undergo colonoscopy. So the number of people who die from colorectal cancer is increasing. I do this research to make colonoscopy easier and more comfortable, so fewer people will die," he said.


Have you ever had an abusive supervisor at work? Ever thought of retaliating? Did using a Voodoo doll cross your mind? Well, a team of researchers looked into the effectiveness of such a method and found that there were some positives: it may alleviate negative feelings and thus be good for the company as a whole "given that justice perceptions is important for employee performance and well-being."

Still, the winners of this prize recommend dealing with the underlying issue in a more professional manner.


Thanks to this team of researchers, you can now read an academic article about why you probably do not read instruction manuals when buying new products.

The "Life is too short to RTFM (read the field manual): How users relate to documentation and excess features in consumer products" research found users get frustrated and instead do not use all the features of the products they own and use regularly.


Wouldn't the world be a much more peaceful place if no-one suffered from road rage? A team of Spanish scientists was rewarded for their research into "Shouting and cursing while driving: frequency, reasons, perceived risks and punishment."

They found that aggressive behaviour behind the wheel is preceded by factors including stress, fatigue and personality traits, and recommended strengthening road safety education.

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Hungarian doctors complete second phase of operations to separate head-conjoined twins

[Watch again] Anti-nuclear weapons group wins 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

Macron advocates global cooperation at the Paris Peace Forum's 6th annual summit