IgNobel Prizes

September 20, 2015

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Science, IgNobel

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people laugh, and then think. The prizes (opens new window) are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.

Previous winners have included Andre Geim, who won an igNobel for using superconducting magnets to make a frog float, and then went on to win a Nobel prize in 2010 for his work on graphene.

This year’s winners:

# Duration of Urination Does Not Change With Body Size

All mammals pee for an average 21 seconds, plus or minus 13 seconds. This is for mammals from 2kg upwards, and was figured out by watching videos of animals urinating

# Is 'Huh?' a universal word? Conversational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items

Huh is not an innate word, but is shared by many languages across the world.

Here's a video of audio of people from around the world saying Huh:

Icelandic, Russian, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Siwu, Mandarin, Lao.

# What Doesn't Kill You Will Only Make You More Risk-Loving: Early-Life Disasters and CEO Behavior

People who survive major catastrophes early in life with no major consequences make for higher risk taking CEOs.

# Reduction of Allergic Skin Weal Responses by Sexual Intercourse in Allergic Patients

Japanese cedar pollen and house dust mite skin rashes are reduced by having sex

# The Case of Moulay Ismael-Fact or Fancy?

Was it possible for Moulay Ismael to father 888 children? He apparently only needed a harem of 110, and to have sex once a day. There's also Python software to model this.

# Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion

Attaching a stick with a weight on it to the back end of a chicken makes it walk like a dinosaur.

# Pain Over Speed Bumps in Diagnosis of Acute Appendicitis: Diagnostic Accuracy Study

People who drive themselves to hospital and go over speed bumps may be able to diagnose appendicitis from the pain it causes.

The high sensitivity of pain over speed bumps gives it a strong "rule-out value" and makes it a useful tool to use in excluding appendicitis and other important abdominal diagnoses. The low specificity, however, means that many patients with pain over speed bumps will not necessarily have appendicitis

# Hemolytic Activities of Stinging Insect Venoms

Honey Bee Sting Pain Index by Body Location

There are two studies - the first is the Schmidt pain scale, where Justin Schmidt allowed different insects to sting him. Second is Michael Smith who let bees sting himself if 25 different places to see which are the most/least painful.

From Schmidt's descriptions:

# Bald-faced hornet

"rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door."

# Yellowjacket

"hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue." Both rate a two.

# Bullet ant

"pure, intense, brilliant pain, like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch rusty nail grinding into your heel". Smith

The most painful parts to be stung on: the nostril, the upper lip, the shaft of the penis.