Wanted: Curiosity

Wanted: Curiosity

Have you ever wondered why flies rub their front legs together or whether there are any biomedical benefits—or consequences—to intense kissing? Well, now there are scientists asking just that.

The nominees for the Pineapple Science Awards are…

Across the world, experts who have explored anything from atoms to universes are branching out, teaming up, and pushing their boundaries of curiosity to make new discoveries, such as how to partially unboil an egg. 

Two unusual global scientific awards in particular recognize the benefits of combining whacky inquisitiveness with the scientific method and are awarding professionals for their findings. The Ig Nobel Prize and the Pineapple Science Awards celebrate scientists and embrace the fun and joy of discovery, while proving that curiosity comes in many forms.

Since 1991, the Ig Nobel Prize has gathered some of the most respected scientists to celebrate “the achievements that make people laugh, and then think.” Presented by the Annals of Improbable Research, scientists gather annually at Harvard University to share their discoveries.  

The 2016 awards honored professionals in fields ranging from economics to chemistry. Winners included Japanese scientists Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, who won the perception prize for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs. 

Other Ig Nobel honors include the winners of the medicine prize, German scientists Christoph Helmchen, Carina Palzer, Thomas Münte, Silke Anders, and Andreas Sprenger for discovering that you can relieve an itch on the left side of your body by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side of your body (and vice versa). 

The Ig Nobel Prize organizers say they “hope to spur people's curiosity” and to raise the question of how people decide what is important and what is not—in science and everywhere else. The scientifically grounded award is an opportunity to legitimize and incentivize curious exploration. Many individuals across the scientific community get involved. Nobel Prize winners routinely participate and present awards.

Wang Yami, Executive Organizer of the Pineapple Science Prize
[It] is a salute to curiosity. It is the curiosity which lead the humans to one scientific research and another, and it is also the curiosity which takes the mankind to survive till today.

Gatherings that cultivate this curiosity are global affairs. The Ig Nobel Prize inspired the creation in 2012 of the Pineapple Science Awards, based in China. They seek to stimulate curiosity in the region and promote science as an exciting endeavor. 

Named after the fruit with its nutritional benefits, but bizarre shape, the Pineapple Science Awards recognize professionals for their imagination—the stranger, the better. Experiments have ranged from measuring how many licks it takes to reach the center of a lollypop to investigating whether counting money relieves pain.

Both the Ig Nobel Prize and the Pineapple Science Awards do more than provide entertainment; they have the potential to inspire future generations and fellow scientists to enjoy science, think beyond their confines, and make strides in their scientific research.

Our Curiosity Report conducted among 3,000 employees across China, Germany, and the United States found that 84% of employees can attest that their curiosity has led to breakthroughs in understanding and has brought an idea to life at work.

Li Ruihong, curator of the Zhejiang Science and Technology Museum in Hangzhou, China hopes the Pineapple Awards will “stimulate people’s curiosity and invite the public to get involved and understand science.”

So hopefully, by celebrating Pineapple Award and Ig Nobel prize honorees, we will not only award the unconventional scientists, but will also spark the curiosity that leads everyday researchers to become Nobel Prize winners, bringing this same inquisitiveness to chemistry, physics, and medicine and changing everyday lives.

This piqued my curiosity!