Science Gone Weird
It’s that time again. Weird science takes center stage as the Ig Nobel Awards 2015 kick off. For those of you wanting an in-depth explanation of what exactly the Ig Nobel Awards are, as well as a rundown of last year’s winners, click here. Basically, they are an offshoot of the Nobel Prizes that focuses on scientific research which is a bit on the odd side. So let’s get straight into it and look at the ten winners.
The prize went to Elisabeth Oberzaucher and Karl Grammer for using mathematical techniques in order to determine whether or not Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty, the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, managed to father 888 children between 1697 through 1727.
The Medicine prize was awarded jointly to two groups: Hajime Kimata; and to Jaroslava Durdiaková, Peter Celec, Natália Kamodyová, Tatiana Sedláčková, Gabriela Repiská, Barbara Sviežená, and Gabriel Minárik for experiments that proved the medical benefits of kissing and other intimate activities. The scientists showed that kissing, among other things, lowers allergic reactions.
A second medicine prize was awarded to Diallah Karim, Anthony Harnden, Nigel D’Souza, Andrew Huang, Abdel Kader Allouni, Helen Ashdown, Richard J. Stevens and Simon Kreckler for showing that acute appendicitis can be diagnosed by the amount of pain a patient is experiencing while driving over speed humps.
Not all awards go to scientists. In this case, the prize went to the Bangkok Metropolitan Police in Thailand for offering extra cash bonuses to officers who refuse to take bribes.
The prize went to Bruno Grossi, Omar Larach, Mauricio Canals, Rodrigo A. Vásquez and José Iriarte-Díaz for their paper titled “Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion”. Basically, they showed that chickens with a weighted stick attached to their rear ends will walk similar to dinosaurs.
The Chemistry Award goes to Callum Ormonde and Colin Raston; and Tom Yuan, Stephan Kudlacek, Sameeran Kunche, Joshua N. Smith, William A. Brown, Kaitlin Pugliese, Tivoli Olsen, Mariam Iftikhar, Gregory Weiss for creating a vortex fluid device capable of partially un-boiling an egg.
The Literature prize is awarded to Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira and Nick J. Enfield for showing that the word “huh” is universal with an equivalent of it existing in every human language.
The Physics prize went to Patricia Yang, David Hu and Jonathan Pham, Jerome Choo for studying urination in all mammals and learning that we all empty our bladders in approx 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).
The award went to Gennaro Bernile, Vineet Bhagwat and P. Raghavendra Rau for discovering that many business leaders learn to appreciate risk-taking during childhood by experiencing natural disasters with no dire personal consequences for them.
Physiology and Entomology
This prize was awarded jointly to two individuals. First off, we have Justin Schmidt for creating the Schmidt Sting Pain Index which measures the relative pain of various insect stings. The second winner is Michael L. Smith for getting stung by bees on 25 locations of his body to determine where it hurts the most. The least painful areas turned out to be the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm, while the most painful areas were the nostril, upper lip and, unsurprisingly, the penis shaft.
Featured image courtesy of Jeff Dlouhy via Flickr.