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12.55 22 Sep 2015


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The annual Ig Nobel Prize, celebrating the best of the worst academic research of the last year, have just been handed out, answering that age-old question: is it more painful to get stung by a bee on the shaft of the penis or your top lip? Or is it true that all mammals pee for roughly the same amount of time, regardless of their size? Or whether fastening a stick onto a chicken will show you how dinosaurs walked?

The Ig Nobel Prize, now in its 25th year, honours the very serious academic research into these seemingly trivial topics, and has proven to be the silliest awards ceremony in the world. Designated to honour the “research that makes people laugh, and then think,” the show was created by Improbable Research. The website is dedicated to seeking our studies that are “maybe good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless,” taken from 2000 academic journals and scientific periodicals.

The idea isn’t just to poke fun, though there is a lot of that; the 10 winners are chosen from a competitive field of more than 9,000 nominees, and receive their actual awards from genuine Nobel laureates at a routinely sold-out show attended by 1,100 people.

The Ig Nobel trophy, made from an empty flower pot and letters from the element charts, is hoisted up during a performance at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University [AP Photo/Charles Krupa]

It’s a night for nerds to nerd out, to revel in a bit of silliness, and for everyone else to laugh at and with them. You can watch back the whole hammed-up show at the bottom of the post, and the winners of this year’s prizes are as follows:

  • Chemistry: For inventing a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg, the prize was award 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.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

  • Literature: For discovering that the word "huh?" (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language – and for not being quite sure why – the prize was awarded to Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira, and Nick J. Enfield.

via GIPHY

  • Management: For discovering that many business leaders developed in childhood a fondness for risk-taking, when they experienced natural disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, and wildfires) that – for them – had no dire personal consequences, the prize was awarded to Gennaro Bernile, Vineet Bhagwat, and P. Raghavendra Rau.

via GIPHY

  • Economics: The Bangkok Metropolitan Police in Thailand, for offering to pay policemen extra cash if the policemen refuse to take bribes.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

  • Biology: Fr observing that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked, Bruno Grossi, José Iriarte-Díaz, Omar Larach, Mauricio Canals, and Rodrigo A. Vásquez were named winners.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

On Newstalk's flagship science show Futureproof, host Jonathan McCrea spoke about the Ig Nobel prize and the science behind it. Listen back to his interview below:

You can watch back the awards ceremony below:


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