Thanks to some extreme scientists, we all have another reason to love bacon even more than we already do so now. Yesterday night, on Thursday, September 18th, 2014, the 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony was held in Cambridge, MA at the Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The event brought together an audience of over 1100 people, who gathered to celebrate the eccentric side of science – the achievements that make people laugh, hoot and think all at the same time.
The yearly event is organized by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research and is co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students in conjunction with the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association. Since 1991, 10 prizes have been awarded each year by actual Nobel Prize Laureates, who genuinely seemed entertained (if not impressed) by some of the research.
However, while most discoveries aren’t necessarily serious breakthroughs, the findings often offer practical wisdom that help us satisfy our curiosities about trivial matters – the things most of us (who aren’t practicing neuroscientists) think about. In accordance with this atmosphere, some silly things made an appearance at this year’s event including: two semi-nude attendants covered in silver paint, a band of accordion players and two paper airplane breaks (only 2?!).
But enough with the logistics; what you’ve all been waiting for are the results. Here are 10 winners this year:
ARCTIC SCIENCE: If you’ve ever pondered what to wear during a trek in the Arctic, Norwegian and German researchers have determined that hiking gear might be best. Arctic reindeer are more afraid of humans in polar-bear costumes.
ART: A team of Italians figured out that it’s less painful to be shot with a laser beam if you’re looking at a beautiful painting — rather than…you know, an ugly one.
BIOLOGY: According to a team of international scientists, dogs naturally align themselves with the Earth’s north-south axis when they poo.
ECONOMICS: The Italian government won for including revenue from prostitution, drugs and other illegal activities when calculating national economic figures.
MEDICINE: Doctors from Detroit Medical Center found that you can indeed stop a nosebleed with a tampon made of bacon. The clotting factors in the pork, combined with the high level of salt, are capable of pulling in fluid from the nose. The discovery was used to help a child who suffered from severe, life-threatening nosebleeds.
NEUROSCIENCE: Chinese and Canadian researchers discovered that the brain’s facial recognition sensors could be triggered by even the slightest suggestion of a face — implying that people who see Jesus on toast aren’t crazy.
NUTRITION: Spanish scientists figured out that bacteria from baby poop makes for an excellent starter culture for fermented sausage. Yum.
PHYSICS: A team from Japan confirmed that banana skins are indeed slippery.
PSYCHOLOGY: Researchers from the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia discovered that night owls are, on average, more manipulative, self-admiring and psychopathic than early risers. On the bright side, these people often do well in life. They tend to be “successful psychopaths” who end up with well paying jobs, versus the “unsuccessful psychopaths” who end up in jail.
PUBLIC HEALTH: A team of international researchers conducted several studies of whether cat ladies are really crazy. Sad to say, there is a connection between cats and mental health, but it may simply be that people with depression get cats because they feel depressed.
Citation: Gail Sullivan of washingtonpost.com