IT’S NOBEL PRIZE WEEK – with the world’s scientific communities coming together to honour those who have made landmark contributions to their respective noble fields.
Alongside those prizes, however, come a much more fun category – the Ig Nobel Prizes – which honour those who contribute to the sciences in ways that make us laugh, as well as ways that make us think.
Here’s a selection of the 10 winners from this year’s prizes – and the reasons for their widely-hailed success. Among them: the perfect consistency of wasabi in order to use it as an ‘alarm,’ and how needing to pee changes the way you think.
Click here to see the winners of the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize >
This post originally appeared at The Daily Edge.
You may suspect that the panic of needing to urinate makes people make flawed decisions -- making gut decisions based on the urgent need to pee.
Teams in the Netherlands and Australia managed to simultaneously prove that needing to pee DOES make your decision-making poorer -- but improves decisions in other regards.
Two Australian researchers noticed that a particular breed of beetle, the male buprestid, had a habit for mistaking beer bottles for females. Not only that, but it only happened with one particular type of 380ml 'stubbie' bottle.
An international team noticed that a group of red-footed tortoises all had the propensity to yawn at similar times. They wondered: is yawning contagious in red-footed tortoises? (The answer was no.) It was this inquisitive question that won them the Physiology gong.
Motorcycling can be dangerous -- especially if riders have difficulty with their visors. But how would similar visors make it dangerous to drive in a full-blown car -- with the visor repeatedly dropping down over your face?
You may be familiar with wasabi: the spicy Japanese horseradish dish. Seven Japanese researchers determined the 'ideal density of airborne wasabi' which could be blown into the air to wake people while they were asleep -- a way of ensuring that heavy sleepers did not sleep through emergency alarms.
The Maths prize was shared between six people, including Harold Camping, for their not-very-accurate predictions about the end of the world. The organisers said their work showed that people needed to be careful when making mathematical assumptions.
Why do discus throwers become dizzy when they're in action, while hammer throwers -- who spin just as much -- don't? That was the problem examined by Philippe Perrin and Herman Kingma, who determined that it was down to a form of motion sickness.
You might remember Arturas Zuokas, because he's been here before -- we featured him when he published a video of him driving over a double-parked Mercedes in an armoured car. His practical demonstration of how to overcome illegal parking won him the Ig Nobel peace prize.
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