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Jesus toast, pork in nose, banana peels win Ig Nobel

September 22, 2014 08:36 IST
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The annual Ig Nobel prizes, which award sometimes inane, yet often surprisingly practical, scientific discoveries, were given away recently.

The prizes are awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research as a whimsical counterpoint to the Nobel Prizes. Photograph: Brian Snyder/Reuters

The Ig Nobel prizes honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then makes them think.

The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honour the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.

Every September, in a gala ceremony in Harvard's Sanders Theatre, 1100 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the winners step forward to accept their prizes. These are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates.

Let's take a look at this year's winners:

Illustrative image. Photograph: Getty Images

PHYSICS: Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai for studying the slipperiness of banana peels.

Illustrative image. Photograph: Reuters

NEUROSCIENCE: Jiangang Liu, Jun Li, Lu Feng, Ling Li, Jie Tian and Kang Lee, for their study "Seeing Jesus in Toast," and trying to understand what happens in the brains of people who see human faces in a piece of toast.

Illustrative image. Photograph: Carlos Martz / Flickr

PSYCHOLOGY: Peter K Jonason, Amy Jones and Minna Lyons, for figuring out that people who habitually stay up late tend to be more self-admiring, more manipulative and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early.

Illustrative image. Photograph: Reuters

PUBLIC HEALTH: Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlicek and Jitka Hanusova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan and Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous to own a cat.
John Kolesidis/Reuters

Illustrative image. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

BIOLOGY: Vlastimil Hart, Petra Novakova, Erich Pascal Malkemper, Sabine Begall, Vladimir Hanzal, Milos Jezek, Tomas Kusta, Veronika Nemcova, Jana Adamkova, Katerina Benediktova, Jaroslav Cerveny and Hynek Burda, for carefully documenting that dogs align themselves with earth's magnetic field when defecating.

Illustrative image. Photograph: Reuters/Aly Song

ART: Marina de Tommaso, Michele Sardaro and Paolo Livrea, for measuring the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, rather than a pretty painting, while a laser beam is aimed at their hand.

Illustrative image. Photograph: Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

ECONOMICS: Italy's National Institute of Statistics for taking the lead in fulfilling the European Union mandate to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and other unlawful financial transactions.

Majordomo Gary Dryfoos demonstrates the Medicine Prize winners' study for "treating uncontrollable nosebleeds, using the method of nasal-packing-with-strips-of-cured-pork". Photograph: Brian Snyder /Reuters

MEDICINE: Ian Humphreys, Sonal Saraiya, Walter Belenky and James Dworkin, for treating "uncontrollable" nosebleeds with strips of-cured pork.
Brian Snyder/Reuters

Illustrative image.

ARCTIC SCIENCE: Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestol, for testing how reindeer react to humans disguised as polar bears.

Nobel Laureates Eric Maskin (left) and Richard Roberts sample the sausage from the Ig Nobel nutrition prize study "Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages". Photograph: Brian Snyder /Reuters

NUTRITION: Raquel Rubio, Anna Jofra, Belen Martin, Teresa Aymerich and Margarita Garriga, for their study of using infant fecal bacteria as potential probiotic starter cultures for fermented sausages.

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