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Science with a Sense of Humor

Researchers who studied stargazing dung beetles, opera-loving mice are among recipients of this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes.

By | September 13, 2013

SXC.HU, SIAS VAN SCHALKWYK

What started as spoofs of the Nobel Prizes more than two decades ago have become celebrated awards in their own right. This year’s Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony honored 10 teams for studies that “first make people laugh, and then make then think,” in categories spanning from medicine to archaeology.

The sold-out ceremony, hosted by the humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research this week (September 12), took place at Harvard. In attendance were four Nobel laureates, who assisted in dispensing the Igs—plus “triumphant handshakes”—to winners hailing from eighteen countries.

The medicine prize went to a team of Japanese scientists—two of whom accepted the award in mouse costumes—that investigated the effects of opera music on mice that had undergone heart transplants. The animals that listened to Verdi’s La Traviata lived after their operations nearly four times longer than those who did not receive a musical treatment, the study found. (As New Scientist noted, “the effects of heavy metal, techno and hip hop have yet to be determined.”)

Scientists from Sweden and South Africa won the joint prize in astronomy and biology for their discovery that dung beetles navigate and orient dung balls using the Milky Way as a compass.

“The principles we are uncovering in dung beetle navigation may be useful in the design of autonomous vehicles and robots, although this is likely to be few years off,” Ig Nobel-recipient Eric Warrant from the University of Lund told The Guardian.  

Researchers from Japan and Germany won the chemistry prize for their 2002 findings that suggested “the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realized.”

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Avatar of: e-lub

e-lub

Posts: 1

November 22, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,
a scientific humor isn't only the cool pictures with funny slogans or jokes about impractical scientists.
The founder of scientific American humor became Professor of Biological Psychology in the University of Michigan at Ann-Arbor James Vernon McConnell (1925 - 1990). In 1959 - 1979 he published Worm Runner's Digest, which is recognized by the Soviet Academy of Sciences even.
At present Dr. McConnell's case  continues the online journal 'Tea Club Annuals' (T.C.A.) which has the mottos 'We wish prosperity to the science which you imagine!' and 'With humor blazing against the false and pseudoscience.' Since we don't have the financial
support, our collection of humorous scientific articles aren't widely known. However, we have already published the article 'Thermodynamics and Kinetics of Interconversion in the System the Fly - Elephant', 'Why I do not have a girlfriend? An Application of the Drake Equation', Russian patent for a tank, shooting human excreta, as well as articles written by IgNobel winners.
T.C.A. Editorial Board invites numerous fans of scientific humor to publish the results of their research at T.C.A., because it's honorable and profitable. Unlike improbable.com, who presented the award only once in a year, we given honorable awards absolutely everything authors at the time of publication.
In addition, T.C.A. Editorial Board asks you to support our initiative on IgNobel'2015 award (in this year Dr. McConnell will be 90 years old) on set of his humorous educational activities and to write email to Marc Abrahams, the IgNobel Prize's founder. This would be a good monument to the man and
his Worm Runner's Digest.

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