Ig Nobel Prize for avoiding other pedestrians

Have you ever thought about how pedestrians avoid bumping into each other? Researchers in physics at Eindhoven University of Technology have received an Ig Nobel Prize for their approach to this problem.

photo Shutterstock / Pato Juh

Yesterday night the facetious Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded for the 31st time. These are granted to research studies that make you laugh first, and then think through the implications.

Researcher Alessandro Corbetta of Eindhoven University of Technology is one of the winners. Along with colleagues from Italy, Taiwan and the US he analysed data of how millions of pedestrians avoid bumping into each other and used it to construct a physics-based model.

That’s all well and fine, but why do some pedestrians still end up bumping into each other? For their research into the opposite question, scientists from Japan, Switzerland and Italy also received an Ig Nobel Prize, not in physics but in kinetics.


There were many more winners. The good news is that Mark Rutte is thin, because overweight political leaders seem to be a good indicator of corruption in the countries they govern. A group of researchers received an Ig Nobel Prize in economics for this study.

And did you know that sometimes an orgasm works just as well as nasal spray if your nose is blocked? Or that the smells emitted by the audience in the cinema offer a good metric of how much sex, violence or drugs use there is in a film? Or that the best way to move a black rhinoceros is upside down?


There was also a nice winner for cat lovers. A Swedish researcher received a prize for her phonetic study of miaowing, purring, hissing, whining, growling and other forms of communication between cats and people.

Share this article