Ig Nobel Prize 2015: Chicken dinosaurs and 9 other winners

18 Sep 2015

Looking at the lighter side of scientific research, the 10 winners of the Ig Nobel Prize have been announced, including research which shows that, with a weight attached, chickens walk like dinosaurs.

While the Nobel Prize tends to make the headlines for acknowledging significant achievements in various fields of human endeavour, the more engaging uses of out-there research are recognised with the Ig Nobel Prize.

With prizes handed out by winning Nobel laureates, it recognises the strangest, but most scientifically interesting, research projects out there.

The winners of the biology prize this year, for example, have caught the attention of most for their interesting discovery that when a weight is attached to the rear of a chicken it will walk in a similar way to how we believe dinosaurs did when they roamed the earth.

Certainly one of the most wince-inducing discoveries came in the project that won the physiology and entomology prize for Justin Schmidt and Michael L Smith.

Sting operation

For the sake of science, Schmidt subjected himself to repeated bee stings across 25 parts of his body to create a scale, now called the Schmidt Index, to find where the most painful areas of the body are to be stung.

Unsurprisingly, Schmidt found out the hard way that the most painful areas to be stung include the nostril, upper lip and penis shaft.

Other quite interesting discoveries relating to the human body found that mammals share an average amount of time we spend urinating, which they title nicely as the ‘duration of urination’, and found we typically spend 21 seconds urinating.

Not all of the research into the human body looked at pain and waste excretion, however, with the winners of the medicine prize finding that kissing and other rather intimate activities can solve a number of health issues.

The two groups of researchers awarded the prize focused particularly on how these acts actually helped reduce the effects of skin allergies, which is pretty neat.

Egg-cellent idea

The winner of the Ig Nobel chemistry prize was actually featured on Siliconrepublic.com last January with a team of researcher’s discovery of a method that could un-boil an egg.

Perhaps more useful, though, is the discovery’s properties that could significantly aid research into cancer treatments, thanks to the revolutionary discovery in how to un-bind proteins.

The project that won the diagnostic medicine prize, however, sounds more like a method of torture for appendicitis sufferers.

The multinational team discovered that the acuteness of a person’s appendicitis could be determined by simply driving over speed bumps.

The obvious conclusion being that the more painful it is for the person, the more acute it is.

The awards ceremony celebrated its 25th edition this year and was hosted by the humorous science magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, which doesn’t hold back when it comes to running the event.

To keep the prize winners from losing the run of themselves on the podium during an acceptance speech, the editors bring in an eight-year-old girl to oversee the ceremony.

Chicken close-up image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic