Alberto Minetti, a professor of physiology at the University of Milan, and his colleagues won the IG Nobel Prize for physics on Thursday. The annual awards celebrate imaginative and funny research in science, medicine and technology.
The scientists were praised “for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond – if those people and that pond were on the moon”.
The research was first published by Plos One journal in 2012 and caught the judges attention for the 2013 awards.
“It is clearly funny and once you know about it it’s hard not to want to know more,” Marc Abrahams, the prize organizer, told The Local.
“They were trying to figure out that if gravity on earth was less strong than it is, what would you be able to do?” he said.
The thought was striking and “almost unimaginable" but was proven by the scientists with a pair of flippers and a paddling pool, Abrahams added.
Abrahams went on to say that in order to test their theory, the scientists had to go through the "enormously goofy kind of slapstick engineering," with a man in flippers suspended above the water in a giant baby bouncer.
The flippers helped the person imitate the Basilisk lizard, famed for running on water, while the baby bouncer enabled scientists to adjust the person’s weight. Though the experiment looks highly entertaining, it also proved a scientific point.
Concluding their findings, the scientists said that “a hydrodynamic model of lizards running on water can also be applied to humans, despite the enormous difference in body size and morphology”.
As a result, if an athletic human happened to find themselves by a pond on the moon, where there is less gravity, they would be able to walk on water.