HomeNewsScientists Receive ‘Ig Nobel Prize’ For Giving Alligator Helium

Scientists Receive ‘Ig Nobel Prize’ For Giving Alligator Helium

by Jennifer Shea
Photo Credit: Mauro Pimentel/ Getty Images

A team of scientists has won the Ig Nobel Prize for giving an alligator helium.

The scientists were trying to show that alligators use vocalizations to advertise body size, the BBC reported. So they placed a female Chinese alligator in an airtight tank filled either with oxygen or with helium. 

The helium didn’t affect the vibrations of the alligator’s vocal tissues. But it did affect the noise the alligator was able to make.

“Although heliox allows normal respiration, it alters the formant distribution of the sound spectrum,” the scientists wrote. “An acoustic analysis of the calls showed that the source signal components remained constant under both conditions, but an upward shift of high-energy frequency bands was observed in heliox.”  

The scientists did an acoustic analysis of the alligator’s calls. From their results, they concluded that alligator vocalizations do indeed offer a signal of the alligator’s body size.

The Ig Nobel Prize is 30 years old. The science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research presents it. The magazine bills itself as a source of “research that makes people laugh and then think.”

This year, the prize also went to a group of scientists who came up with a way to identify narcissists by their eyebrows. Another prize went to a team whose experiment investigates what happens if earthworms receive high-frequency vibrations, according to the BBC.

The prizes are normally given out at Harvard University in Cambridge. But this year, organizers had to hold the ceremony online due to Covid-19.

Each winner received a $10 trillion bill from Zimbabwe as a prize.