TrophyThis world we live in is a beautiful place, full of extraordinary wonders and secrets. You just have to appreciate how things just work. Like, for example … Did you know that your ability to make decisions is greatly affected when you’re under pressure to void your bladder? Or that male Australian jewel beetles find a certain type of beer bottle so unbearably desirable that they try to mate with them until, literally, “death do [them] part”? Or the best part: Harold Camping (you know, the umpteenth guy who most recently predicted the world’s demise and still hasn’t given up hope) was recognized for his failure in a spectacular, honorary way?

Wait, but there’s more: Most of the people involved in such studies are legitimate scientists.

Yes, Clog readers. There are scientists out there that intently watched and made acute, perhaps even revolutionary, observations on beetles passionately humpin’ and bumpin’ with beer bottles. Pretty cool, huh?

That is why, in consideration of research that will “first make people laugh and then make them think,” Harvard University’s scientific humor magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, (struggling to get over the hilarious implications of the name) annually awards the Ig Nobel Prizes. A witty parody of the Nobel Prizes, the Ig Nobels applaud the unusual yet creative and spur the average Joe’s interest in science, medicine and technology. At least that’s what the Annals of Improbable Research hopes to accomplish.

Therefore, the Clog feels that we should recognize not just the groundbreaking revelations that these folks managed to accomplish but also the ingeniousness behind their success in earning their salaries out of such research.

You can’t deny that this is pure brilliance. If you were asked whether you’d prefer to sit in the office completing eight hours worth of unvarying paperwork or be out on the streets in an armored tank and running over BMWs and Lexus SUVs to peacefully demonstrate the positives of following the law, what would your answer be? Don’t even bother giving a smartass answer.

For the Ig Nobel Prizes, there are 10 categories: Physiology, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature, Physics, Biology, Mathematics, Psychology, Peace and Public Safety. Read in more detail the ones we mentioned above, which are our favorites, and heartily celebrate the quirky side of formal experimentation and the sciences.

Medicine
Awardees:
Mirjam Tuk, Debra Trampe and Luk Warlop and jointly to Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder, Robert Feldman, Robert Pietrzak, David Darby and Paul Maruff

Reason for Ig Nobel Award: The pressure from needing to urinate makes people make both better and worse decisions, depending on the situation and topic. In this study, there were two research groups. One group said that such stress forces people to pay more attention to a task at hand, but the other group said the desperation seems to reduce the ability to make decisions and even focus in the first place. Synder compared the bodily result of having an unrelieved bladder to being drunk. Generally, the point behind all this was to see if pain affects decision-making.

They must have had fun seeing their test subjects hopping around with the need to pee, asking them slow, deliberate questions and making slow, deliberate records on their clipboards.

Mathematics
Awardees:
A bunch of people who predicted the world would end. Most recent is Harold Camping.

Reason for Ig Nobel Award: Honestly, it’s self-explanatory. Their inconsistencies have done much for mankind. The most important lesson? People need to be cautious when making mathematical conclusions and predictions for things such as like when the world will explode and do away with all living creatures.

Biology
Awardees:
Darryl Gwynne and David Rentz

Reason for Ig Nobel Award: The whole sex-driven beetle deal from above. Brown “stubby” beer bottles – and only these bottles ­– apparently resemble the unbelievably sexiest, ideal female beetles. Big, orangey-brown with a dimpled bottom (its use in regards of beer bottles is that it allows the drinker to have a better grip), and a reflective surface (similar to female jewel beetles’ wings) all imitate the attractive features of a “super female” beetle. The male beetles go crazy with buggy lust and attempt to mate with the bottles. Mother Nature with her infinite wisdom decided to give these male bugs such an admirable willpower in such cases, so unyielding to the point that the beetles will end up frying in the sun or becoming a meal for other insects rather than leaving the bottles. Although this is all hilarious, the researchers made a point: Due to humans, the mating system of these beetles could get severely interrupted since actual female beetles are getting ignored.

Peace
Awardee:
Arturas Zuokas

Reason for Ig Nobel Award: He runs over illegally parked (with emphasis on the fact that these cars parked consistently in illegal areas) luxury cars with a TANK to demonstrate that the drivers of these expensive cars are not above the law. What more needs to be said? Seriously! This Lithuanian mayor has the balls to punish the people not with a fat ticket or even a bulldozer but a tank.

There really is a small bit of hope restored in humanity thanks to these kinds of people. Or maybe we’re entertained just way too easily.

Image source: Judy ** under Creative Commons
Silly science prizes highlight beer-loving bugs, pee pressure [Cosmic Log]



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