The 31st annual Ig Nobel Prize awards were just handed out. If you’re not familiar, those are awards that are given to the most ridiculous advances in science and other academic fields each year. This year’s 10 winners are:
1. Researchers who used genetic analysis to compare the different species of bacteria found on discarded chewing gum recovered from paved surfaces in various countries.
2. Researchers who tested the hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from punches to the face.
3. Researchers who used “chemical analysis” to test whether bodily odors created by a movie theater audience could be used to track incidents of violence, sexuality, drug use, and profanity in movies.
4. A study that suggests the obesity of a country’s politicians can be used to indicate the level of corruption in the country.
5. A study called “A New Method of Cockroach Control on Submarines.”
6. Researchers who conducted experiments to find whether it is safer to airlift a rhinoceros upside-down rather than right-side-up. To be clear: That’s safer FOR THE RHINO, not the humans attempting to move it.
7. A researcher who analyzed the variations in cat vocalizations while communicating with humans. Those vocalizations include “purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, and growling.”
8. A study demonstrating that sexual orgasms are as effective as decongestant medicines at improving nasal breathing.
9. Researchers who conducted experiments to learn why pedestrians do not constantly collide with other pedestrians.
10. A DIFFERENT team of researchers who looked into why pedestrians sometimes DO collide with other pedestrians. (???)
(For more on each of these, hit up Improbable.com.)