Fossil professor wins IG Nobel award for explaining why scientists lick rocks
An award winning geologist has won an IG Nobel prize for explaining the science behind licking rocks.
Jan Zalasiewicz who works as a professor of Paleobiology at the University of Leicester in the UK, scooped the award following the publication of an article in 2017 entitled ‘Eating Fossils’.
In the article he wrote: “Licking the rock, of course, is part of the geologist’s and paleontologist’s armory of tried-and-much-tested techniques used to help survive in the field.
“Wetting the surface allows fossil and mineral textures to stand out sharply, rather than being lost in the blur of intersecting micro-reflections and micro-refractions that come out of a dry surface.”
He added: “Many of my colleagues do this. This helps you identify different rocks and minerals.
“We just do it without thinking too much.”
Following the news that his research had won the IG Nobel prize, the delighted 69-year-old said: “It was a surprise.
“But it's nice to see interest in old field methods of geology.”
The IG Nobel award is a humorous version of the Nobel Prize and honours unique, unusual, and imaginative scientific achievements that “make people laugh, then think”, and discoveries that “cannot or should not be repeated”.
The award-winning works commonly have actual scientific value, and their “funniness” is only an additional advantage.
Zalasiewicz added that IG Nobel award gives a slightly different look at geology and shows “that it does not always have to be very serious.
“It's a nice little fairy tale about science.”
Born in Manchester, UK, in 1954, Zalasiewicz’s parents escaped from Siberia with the Anders' army before making their way to England.
His writing includes the books The Earth After Us (2008), The Planet in a Pebble (2010), The Goldilocks Planet (2012) and Ocean Worlds (2014).
The 2023 ceremony was held online on the 14th of September.
In 2022, Polish scientists from Warsaw received the prize for their discovery that eating ice cream can help relieve oral inflammation in cancer patients. To read more click here.