Across China: Fun science awards value curiosity, imagination

2022-November-14 09:34 By: Xinhua

by Xinhua writers Zhu Han and Guo Yuqi

HANGZHOU, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Popping a champagne cork fires gas at supersonic speeds, fathers recognize their babies' cries just as well as mothers, and roasting peanuts in their shells is more aromatic: the annual Pineapple Science Award has once again honored the spirit of curiosity and imagination.

Ten seemingly trivial findings or inventions related to serious scientific subjects each won the Pineapple Science Award on Saturday in Wenzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province. The award is given to findings in fields such as psychology, physics and mathematics.

When the "Venom robot" transformed its shape and passed through a narrow pipe with a diameter of 1.5 mm, a ripple of amazement crossed the award ceremony. The robot's research and development team was among the winners of the award for their invention.

The magnetic slime robot, inspired by Marvel character Venom, can shift into different shapes and navigate various tight and narrow spaces.

"We hope to use it in the human alimentary canal in the future to help doctors carry out minimally invasive therapies, which are difficult to complete using existing interventional tools," said Zhang Li, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong who co-created the slime robot.

Andrew C. Gallup, from the Polytechnic Institute at the State University of New York, won the Pineapple Science Award in medicine. His team found that yawning serves as a cue that can enhance the individual vigilance of observers in social settings.

"I hope this research spurs further curiosity in the behavior that we do each and every day," Gallup said.

"Many important achievements are originally led by imagination," said Yang Shufeng, a geologist and an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). He added that curiosity comes from a love for nature, life and human beings, and that scientists should be encouraged to have a bold imagination and curiosity.

First held in 2012 to honor imaginative research, the Pineapple Science Award aims to arouse enthusiasm for science among China's younger generations.

"Popular science needs to keep up with the times. The Pineapple Science Award is a proper attempt to allow science to approach the public, and stimulate the imagination of young people through scientific education," said Wu Xiangping, a researcher at the National Astronomical Observatories of CAS.

Editor: WXL
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