A team of scientists from India, China, Malaysia and the US has won this year's Ig Nobels, the prize for humorous scientific feats, in the mechanical engineering category for its study of repurposing dead spiders to be used in gripping tools, the organisers said.
Counting nose hairs in cadavers, repurposing dead spiders, smart toilets idea, and explaining why scientists lick rocks, were among the 10 winning achievements in the 33rd Ig Nobel Prize ceremony.
The prizes were announced on Thursday during an online event produced by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research'.
The Nobel Prize is the premier award in science, reserved for those that "have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.
However, the Ig Nobel Prize celebrates the most trivial and ridiculous achievements that first make people laugh, and then think.
Researchers Te Faye Yap, Zhen Liu, Anoop Rajappan, Trevor Shimokusu, and Daniel Preston, from Rice University in the US, won the prize for their research on re-animating dead spiders to use as mechanical gripping tools.
Anoop obtained his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras in 2015, after which he moved to the US to join the graduate program in Mechanical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), according to the Rice University where he works now.
The useful properties of biotic materials, refined by nature over time, eliminate the need to artificially engineer these materials, exemplified by our early ancestors wearing animal hides as clothing and constructing tools from bones, the authors wrote in their research paper published in the journal Advanced Science in July 2022.
We propose leveraging biotic materials as ready-to-use robotic components in this work due to their ease of procurement and implementation, focusing on using a spider in particular as a useful example of a gripper for robotics applications, they said.
The necrobotic gripper is capable of grasping objects with irregular geometries and up to 130 per cent of its own mass, the research paper said.
Furthermore, the gripper can serve as a handheld device and innately camouflages in outdoor environments, it added.
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