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This Year’s Ig Nobel Winners Are Awesomely Ridiculous–And Ridiculously Awesome

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ig nobels

Pork hanging from the nose is an unconventional, but apparently successful, treatment for uncontrolled bleeding. (Credit: Alexey Eliseev/Improbable Research)

One of these days, I’ll actually attend the Ig Nobel prize ceremony, which is held every year at Harvard University’s Sanders Theater. The awards honor “improbable” research, which is research that “makes people laugh and then think.” In other words, this is pretty much the best kind of science out there.

The awards are given by an organization called Improbable Research, which also publishes a magazine called the Annals of Improbable Research. The Ig Nobels honor the best of this kind of study. This year, the winners really ran the gamut (as they always do), offering research on everything from how reindeer respond to humans masquerading as polar bears to the cognitive processes of people who see Jesus in their toast. I’m pretty sure I’ll never write another sentence quite as interesting as that one.

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Dung Beetles Use The Milky Way To Navigate

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DungSure, the Nobel Prize is nice and everything, but it isn’t half as interesting as the Ig Nobel Prize. The Ig Nobel Prizes, which are organized by the Annals of Improbable Research and are presented each fall at Harvard University, honor scientific achievements that sound pretty ridiculous, but which are based on sound science and actually merit thought. This year, there were a bunch of fun winners, including a psychology experiment that concluded that people who think they’re drunk tend to also think they’re attractive (this explains a lot, doesn’t it?), an experiment about the effects of opera music on mice who have had heart transplants, and a study that observed dung beetles using the cosmos to help their sense of direction.

The cosmically inclined dung beetle study actually won two Ig Nobels: one for biology and one for astronomy. It was a bIg Nobel win for the beetles and for the scientific team comprised or researchers from Sweden, Australia, South Africa, Germany, and the United Kingdom. They’ve even got the best research project tag line: “Some people think our research is crap.” Yes! Scientists who can pun (and laugh at themselves) are the best!