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HindustanTimes Sat,02 Aug 2014

Zany Science

Wacky Ig Nobel prizes show the funny side of science
AFP
New York City, September 13, 2013
First Published: 08:44 IST(13/9/2013)
Last Updated: 09:13 IST(13/9/2013)

The tongue-in-cheek Ig Nobel awards were handed to dozens of scientists, including those who confirmed drunk people think they are more attractive and studied the onion enzyme that makes us cry.

The Nobel prize spoof honors achievements "that first make people laugh and then make them think," according to a press release on Thursday.

The Ig Nobels invite real Nobel laureates to confer honors on serious scientists for work that is generally only unintentionally funny.

There is also a peace prize, which this year was jointly awarded to the president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, for making it illegal to applaud in public, and to the Belarus police "for arresting a one-armed man for applauding." The safety engineering prize went to late American researcher Gustano Pizzo, who invented a system to trap airplane hijackers, seal them into a package and parachute them into the hands of police.

Nobel Laureates, from left, Eric Maskin, Economics, 2007; Dudley Herschbach, Chemistry, 1986; Roy Glauber, Physics, 2005; and Frank Wilczek, Physics, 2004; look on during the annual Ig Nobel prize ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge (AP Photo)

A team from the Britain, Netherlands and Canada were awarded the probability prize for determining that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely it is it will soon stand up.

They also discovered that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon it will lie down again.

The physics prize went to researchers who discovered that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond – if those people and that pond were on the moon.

Brian Crandall is unveiled as the winner of the 2013 Archaeology Prize during the 23rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge (Reuters Photo)

A joint award in biology and astronomy was given to a team from Sweden, Australia, Germany, Australia and the UK , who uncovered the fact that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.

The study by researchers who confirmed drunk people really do think they are more attractive won the Psychology Prize.

Masanori Niimi (L), of Japan, is joined by colleague Xiangyuan Jin (R), dressed as a mouse, as they accept the 2013 Medicine Prize during the 23rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge. (Reuters Photo)

A team from Japan and Germany tackled the age-old question of why onions make us cry and discovered merely that the biochemical process is "even more complicated than scientists previously realised." The archaeology prize went to a US-Canada team who parboiled a dead shrew, swallowed it without chewing, and then carefully examined their excretions to see which bones dissolve inside the human digestive system.

It was the 23rd edition of the Ig Nobels, awarded at the uber-prestigious Harvard University in Boston.

Emily Baird (2nd L), assistant professor at Lund University in Sweden, throws a ball into the crowd after she and her colleagues received the joint prize in biology and astronomy. (Reuters Photo)


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