Science is serious business, even when it's comparing peeing times among mammals. The annual Ig Nobel awards praise scientific achievements that "make people laugh and then think," organizers say.
Teams of researches from all over the world gathered at Harvard University on Thursday night for Ig Nobel gala celebrating the funny side of science.
Scientists from Japan and Slovakia received the Ig Nobel prize for medicine after studying biological effects of intense kissing and discovering that a long kissing session can decrease skin allergies. Another award went to the team of physicists who established that most mammals, regardless of size, take about 21 seconds to urinate.
Researcher Michael L. Smith shared the physiology and entomology prize for letting honey bees sting him on 25 different parts of his body. His conclusion: the worst parts to get stung are the nostril, the upper lip and the penis.
"A sting to the nostril is so painful it's like a whole body experience," he said.
Wearing a toilet seat on his head, David Hu, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biology at Georgia Institute of Technology, presents his research
Do the dinosaur
Mark Dingemanse and two colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, took the laurels in the area of literature, discovering that the word "huh" appears to exist in every language of the world.
"A system for fixing misunderstandings is clearly a crucial part of language," Dingemanse said. "'Huh?' is one element of this system: It's the basic error signal people fall back on if all else fails."
Another team earned the prize for biology by attaching a weighted stick to a chicken to study dinosaur movement, while the diagnostic medicine award went to researchers who showed that acute appendicitis can be diagnosed by how much pain a patient feels when driven over speed bumps.
The annual prizes, meant to entertain and encourage global research and innovation, are awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research as a whimsical counterpoint to the Nobel Prizes
Top scientists taking part
In the presence of more than 1,000 guests, the organizers from the Annals of Improbable Research magazine awarded a total of 10 of the spoof prizes, in areas varying from literature to management.
The prizes at the 25th annual ceremony were handed out by the real Nobel Prize winners, and the Harvard meet included a three-act mini opera about a competition among the various species to determine which is the best.
The laureates of the Ig Nobel also receive a cash reward - a Zimbabwean 10 trillion dollar bill, which is worth a couple of US dollars.
dj/sms (Reuters, dpa AP)