Ig Nobel Awards Honor Pioneering Work on Bat Fellatio, Whale Snot, & More

By Jennifer Welsh | October 1, 2010 1:15 pm

fruit-batThe list of wacky science discoveries from the Ig Nobel awards announced last night includes teams who made strides in vital fields like bat fellatio and curing diseases via roller coaster rides.

The awards are given out every year for discoveries that made us both laugh and think. Here’s a full list of the winning teams and projects:

Physics: A group of researchers in New Zealand found that wearing your socks over shoes improves your ability to walk on ice.  Team member Lianne Parkin explained to Fox News the reason for her work:

“We live in the south of New Zealand in a very hilly city (we have the steepest street in the world!), and intermittent icy conditions in winter can create major havoc,” she said.

Management: A mathematical study by researchers in Italy found that in some business situations, it is better to promote randomly than the choose the most qualified candidates.

Engineering: A team based in the UK and Mexico found the perfect way to collect whale snot–send a remote controlled helicopter in to do it for you. The team members explained the technique to ABC News:

“The technique involves flying a remote-controlled helicopter above a whale as it surfaces and catching the whale blow in petri dishes attached to the underside of the helicopter,” they said in a statement.

Transportation: A team based in Japan and the UK used slime molds to optimize human-sized railroads. Team member Dan Bebber told the Boston Globe how he stumbled upon this:

“Just for fun, we wanted to see if a brainless organism will do as well as Japanese engineers,’’ Bebber said.

Public Health: A Fort Detrick study of bearded scientists working in microbial labs found that they carry along a hoard of microbes in their facial hair, and could literally be bringing their work home with them at the end of the day.

Medicine: A team based in the Netherlands has been experimenting with how roller coasters (and the emotions that come along with riding them) affect asthma sufferers. Team member Ilja van Beest explained to Fox News how difficult it is to study asthma:

“The lungs are difficult because you can’t just look down and see if your tubes are constricted,” van Beest said. “You have to rely on how you feel so a lot of our research has been looking at various ways people try to understand their symptoms.”

Peace: Researchers in the UK found that swearing really does reduce pain. Team leader Richard Stevens explained the finding to CBSNews.com:

“What we think is when you swear you produce an emotional reaction in yourself, you arouse your nervous system and you set off the fight or flight response,” Stephens said. “It gets the heart rate up, gets the adrenaline flowing.”

Chemistry: A team including BP were awarded an IgNobel for their studies over the summer of how oil, natural gas, and water interact. Yeah, that was a fun experiment.

Economics: The awards committee even congratulated the bigwigs of the financial industry for their efforts in creating and promoting new ways to invest money to “maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.” Oddly, no one from Goldman Sachs or the other investment banks named came to pick up the award.

Biology: Studies of fruit bats engaging in oral sex to prolong their sexual encounters won the biology award for a team out of the UK. We’re glad those researchers have been rewarded for the hours they spent dutifully watching bat porn.

Related content:
Discoblog: Crunchy Chips and Smart Slime Mold Win 2008 Ig Nobel Prizes
Discoblog: It’s a Bra! It’s a Dust Mask! It’s Both! And Now, It’s for Sale
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Why Santa Claus shouldn’t work in a lab
Discoblog: Can You Cuss Away Your Pain? Study Says Yes
Discoblog: Touching a Boo-Boo Really Does Make It Feel Better
Not Exactly Rocket Science: Brainless slime mould makes decisions like humans
Not Exactly Rocket Science: Holy fellatio, Batman! Fruit bats use oral sex to prolong actual sex

Image: Flickr/Aiden Jones


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