Beetles definitely mate with beer bottles in Australia, tortoises are at no risk of contagious yawning and airborne wasabi can indeed wake people should natural disaster strike. These are just three of the weird and brilliant scientific discoveries to take from the 2011 Ig Noble awards.
Presented at Harvard last night, the honours reward improbable research that "makes people laugh and then think". So you may be ‘ROFLing’ at the idea of being woken by wasabi, but when an earthquake strikes you'll think it's a pretty good idea while Aussies might think twice about casually leaving their bottles of brew on the ground while stoking up the barbecue.
All decisions about the winners were made on a bladder full to just the right level. Yep, one prize winner found that a full bladder leads to bad decision making - or good decision making, depending on the nature of the decision.
Previous winners of the awards, which have been running since 1991, have uncovered other gems that include socks worn outside shoes stop you slipping (2010), knuckle-cracking won’t cause arthritis (2009) and Michael Milken (1991) for inventing the junk bond.
Oh, and this year's peace prize? The mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, who early this year rolled a tank over illegally-parked fancy cars in the name of, er, peace.
Here's the full list of 2011 Ig Nobel Prize Winners:
PHYSIOLOGY PRIZE: Anna Wilkinson (of the UK), Natalie Sebanz (of
NETHERLANDS, HUNGARY, and AUSTRIA), Isabella Mandl (of AUSTRIA) and
Ludwig Huber (of AUSTRIA) for their study 'No Evidence of Contagious Yawning
in the Red-Footed Tortoise."
CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu
Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami of JAPAN, for
determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to
awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying
this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm.
MEDICINE PRIZE: Mirjam Tuk (of THE NETHERLANDS and the UK), Debra
Trampe (of THE NETHERLANDS) and Luk Warlop (of BELGIUM). and jointly to
Matthew Lewis, Peter Snyder and Robert Feldman (of the USA), Robert Pietrzak,
David Darby, and Paul Maruff (of AUSTRALIA) for demonstrating that people
make better decisions about some kinds of things — but worse decisions about
other kinds of things‚ when they have a strong urge to urinate.
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo, NORWAY, for
trying to understand why, in everyday life, people sigh.
LITERATURE PRIZE: John Perry of Stanford University, USA, for his Theory of
Structured Procrastination, which says: To be a high achiever, always work on
something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that's even
BIOLOGY PRIZE: Darryl Gwynne (of CANADA and AUSTRALIA and the USA) and
David Rentz (of AUSTRALIA and the USA) for discovering that a certain kind of
beetle mates with a certain kind of Australian beer bottle.
PHYSICS PRIZE: Philippe Perrin, Cyril Perrot, Dominique Deviterne and Bruno
Ragaru (of FRANCE), and Herman Kingma (of THE NETHERLANDS), for
determining why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers
MATHEMATICS PRIZE: Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world
would end in 1954), Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would
end in 1982), Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world
would end in 1990), Lee Jang Rim of KOREA (who predicted the world would
end in 1992), Credonia Mwerinde of UGANDA (who predicted the world would
end in 1999), and Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would
end on September 6, 1994 and later predicted that the world will end on October
21, 2011), for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical
assumptions and calculations.
PEACE PRIZE: Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, LITHUANIA, for
demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by
running them over with an armoured tank.
PUBLIC SAFETY PRIZE: John Senders of the University of Toronto, CANADA,
for conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an
automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his
face, blinding him.