A group of Japanese scientists won the Ig Nobel Engineering Prize on Thursday for their study of how people move their thumb and fingers when rotating cylindrical objects, the organizer of the spoof prize said.
Gen Matsuzaki, now professor at Chiba Institute of Technology, published research in 1998 and 1999 with his then instructors examining how many fingers people typically use along with the thumb when turning objects such as handles, tabs and knobs.
The group also tracked where exactly the fingertips are placed in the experiments aimed at improving the design of cylindrical objects.
They found people unconsciously adjust the number of fingers used depending on the thickness of a cylinder, using more fingers to turn thicker objects.
The U.S. science humor magazine "Annals of Improbable Research" organizes the prize in scientific and other categories.
"I'm glad to know the organizer credited the viewpoint of our research," Matsuzaki said.
Matsuzaki was a graduate student at the time of the research, and his then instructors — Kazuo Ouchi, Masaru Uehara, Yoshiyuki Ueno and Goro Imura — shared the award.