SoT 163: The 2014 Ig Nobel Prizes

October 8, 2014

Download_greenHosts: Dr. Shayne Joseph, Penny Dumsday, Jo Alabaster, Sean Elliott. And Ed Brown, but only barely.

The Ig Nobel Prizes honour achievements that first make us laugh, then make us think. We take a look at this year’s winners: from banana peels to people dressed as polar bears!

A team from Japan for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that’s on the floor.
Banana peel slipperiness wins IgNobel prize in physics

Scientists from China and Canada for trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast.
University Of Toronto Researchers Find ‘Seeing Jesus In Toast’ Phenomenon Perfectly Normal

A team from Australia, the UK and the US for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.
THE DARK TRIAD: People Who Love The Night Have Psychopathic Traits

A number of scientists from the Czech Republic, Japan, the USA and India for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat. Turns out it can be, if you get infected with our old friend Toxoplasma Gondii.
Parasite makes men dumb, women sexy

A team from the Czech Republic, Germany and Zambia for carefully documenting that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth’s north-south geomagnetic field lines.
Dogs align their bodies along a North-South axis when they poop
Do Dogs Line Themselves Up With the Earth’s Magnetic Field to Poop?

Three scientists from Italy, for measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while being shot [in the hand] by a powerful laser beam.
ITALY: Beautiful art eases pain

ISTAT — the Italian government’s National Institute of Statistics, for proudly taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate for each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.
In Italy, prostitutes and illegal drugs could shrink the deficit

A team from the USA and India for treating “uncontrollable” nosebleeds, using the method of nasal-packing-with-strips-of-cured-pork.
The Bacon Tampon: Doctors Find Salt Pork Stops Nosebleeds

Scientists from Norway, Germany, USA and Canada for testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.
Svalbard Reindeer: Thriving Again on the Tundra

Scientists in Spain for their study titled “Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages.”
Pooperoni? Baby-Poop Bacteria Help Make Healthy Sausages

Jo Alabaster is a science communicator currently studying a BSc (Applied Sciences) via Open Universities Australia. She blogs at and can often be heard as a reporter on the Skeptic Zone podcast.

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