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  1. #1
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    2105 Ig Nobel awards

    2015 Ig Nobel prizes: dinosaur-like chickens and bee-stings to the penis

    Friday 18 September 2015 04.31 BST Last modified on Friday 18 September 2015 10.54 BST

    A man stung dozens of times by bees, mathematicians who wanted to know whether a man could physically be able to sire 600 sons, and chemists who unboiled an egg were honoured on Thursday night with one of science’s most storied awards, the Ig Nobel prize.

    Professors, researchers, students and actual Nobel laureates from around the world gathered at Harvard University at the 25th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, the absurdist celebration of science that “makes you laugh, then think”.

    Entomologist Justin Schmidt and Cornell researcher Michael Smith jointly won for their painstaking experiments charting how painful insect stings are, and where the stings hurt worst. Smith pressed bees up against different parts of his body until the insects stung him, five stings a day, a total of 25 different locations, for 38 days. He rated the pain one to 10, and published.

    The most painful parts: the nostril, the upper lip, the shaft of the penis.

    Smith was joined onstage by Schmidt, who has also sacrificed various parts of his body for science in his decades specializing in stinging insects. Schmidt’s “sting pain index” rates only on a scale of one to four, but also features the entomologist’s descriptions of 78 sorts of stings, written with the flair of a sommelier in a wine cellar with something to prove.

    The bald-faced hornet, for instance, is in Schmidt’s estimation: “rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.” Yellowjackets, on the other hand, sting “hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.” Both rate a two.

    The four-plus-rated bullet ant, in contrast, punishes a victim with “pure, intense, brilliant pain, like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch rusty nail grinding into your heel”.

    Less adventurous researchers also won prizes for investigating the quirks and limits of the human body. The copulative prowess of a 17th-century Moroccan emperor, for instance, was the subject of a study by German and Austrian mathematicians who won a prize.

    Intrigued by the story of Moulay Ismail the bloodthirsty, born in 1672 and dead at the age of 55, Elisabeth Oberzaucher and Karl Grammer sought to learn whether it would be physically possible for a man to sire 600 sons as the fable alleges.

    “It’s a lot of work it turns out,” Oberzucher said. “Moulay had to have had sex once or twice a day, which you might actually regard as a low number, but if you think this is every day, every single day for an entire life, this is quite a lot.”

    Researchers from eastern Europe and Japan won in the medicine category for showing the health benefits of “intense kissing and other intimate personal acts”, in part by avidly kissing each other and testing for consequences. (Benefits included a decrease in various allergic reactions.)

    Scientists from a dozen countries, including Britain, Canada, New Zealand the US and China, also won in a medicine category for finding that doctors could accurately diagnose acute appendicitis based on a person’s pain while driving over speed bumps.

    Not to be outdone in the realm of juvenile curiosity, biologists from Chile and the US won for attaching sticks to the rear ends of chickens to see how it would make them walk. The chickens walked “in a manner similar to which dinosaurs are thought to have walk”, the scientists concluded triumphantly, publishing their results in a paper titled: “Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens with Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion”.

    A group of physicists from the US and Taiwan won for finding “the law of urination”: the principle that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds), whether they’re the size of an elephant or a shrew.

    Researcher David Hu said explaining that gravity was the great equalizer: “the taller the pipe, the faster the pee”.

    “So the next time your’e waiting for someone to use the bathroom, just simply knock on the door and gently remind them,” he said. “You should be done in just 21 seconds.”

    For literature, the Ig Nobel was awarded to three researchers who discovered that the word “huh” or its equivalent seems to exist in every human language. For a “management” category, a team from Italy and the US was awarded for finding that children who experience natural disasters, whether earthquakes, tornados or volcanic eruptions, make for business leaders who like to take risks – so long as the leaders themselves were not at risk while children.

    “The bottom line is what doesn’t kill you will make you more risk loving,” said researcher Gennaro Bernile.

    The chemistry prize went to American and Australian researchers who managed to partially unboil an egg with a vortex fluid device, a high speed machine that converts unfolded proteins into folded proteins.

    Their results, published in ChemBioChem, show that the team was able to refold proteins thousands of times faster than previous methods. In theory, the device has far greater application than resetting eggs: it could do everything from revolutionize the manufacturing of cancer treatments to overhaul the industrial production of cheese.

    The ceremony was organised by the Annals of Improbable Research, a science humour magazine, and overseen in part by an eight-year-old girl who ensured that winners did not run over time during their acceptance speeches. Last year researchers won for their inquiries into whether cats are hazardous to their owners’ mental health, and for the discovery that people who stay up late are more often psychopaths, among other research.

    Since 1991, scientists have won for such various feats as levitating a live frog with magnets, teaching pigeons to discern between Monet and Picasso, studying the effect of country music on suicides and experimenting with Coca Cola as a spermicide.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for posting Harry.

    These awards force you to think sideways, but i just love the fact these creative types use any means necessary to fund the next idea. but there is integrity in their pursuit.

    ...every mammal species pees for almost exactly 21 seconds!??

    Worth knowing, wot!!

  3. #3
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    Well after 12 pints last night it seemed a lot longer than that.

  4. #4
    I am in Jail

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    The Thai police got an award to didn't they.

  5. #5
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    ^ For pissing?...Maybe taking the piss...

  6. #6
    lob
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    moulay ismail. 600 sons. well i understand its all a laugh, but,,,, he couldn't , wouldn't have enough time. using my calculator, give him 25 out of his 55 yrs x 350days = 8750 shags. now thats once a day and not a full yr so although a laugh total bollicks

  7. #7
    Custom user Neverna's Avatar
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    ^ I'll give him 30 years, that's 20 sons a year, 20 pregnant women a year - averaging about one new pregnancy every 18 days. All he needs is plenty of fertile women to shag. Three or four shags a week would be enough if his tackle was firing on all cylinders.
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  8. #8
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    They should have bottled his sperm and sent it to China.

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