And the winners aren't... Ig Nobel prize 'celebrates' silly science - from penis amputation research to star-gazing dung beetles and walking on water


The Ig Nobel prize winners have been announced, with stargazing dung beetles, penis amputations and rodent guzzling recognised in an award ceremony that celebrates the sillier side of scientific research.

Academics from around the world gathered for the ceremony, held annually at Harvard University and winners were given just 60 seconds to make an acceptance speech or risk being booed off stage by an eight-year-old girl.

The obscure, the improbable and the obvious were honoured in full, with a UK team of scientists scooping an Ig Nobel in the ‘Probability’ category for discovering that cows are more likely to stand up the longer they have been lying down.

Livestock researchers from Scotland's Rural College also concluded that once a cow had stood up it was quite difficult to predict when it would lie down again.

Another team of researchers, this time from France and the US, were rewarded for discovering that drinking alcohol makes people think they are more attractive as well.

Knocking back the wine also makes others appear more alluring, a fact frequently observed among the lubricated in pubs and clubs.

The Archeology prize was awarded to a scientists Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl, for their dedication to discovering what happens to human’s digestive system when you swallow a dead shrew.

A European team of scientists were honoured in the ‘Physics’ classification for their devout discovery that people really can walk on water. However before Jesus’s famous feat appears any less numinous, the research also showed it would only be possible if that person and the water was on the moon.

Joint Prize in Biology and Astronomy went to the team which discovered dung beetles navigate their way home by looking at the milky way. Tongue firmly in cheek, the Safety Engineering prize was awarded for the invention of a system that traps airplane hijackers in an airtight pod before ejecting them out the plane and parachuting them to earth where they are picked up by police. Sadly inventor Gustano Pizzo died in 2006.

Organised by the humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research,the Ig Nobel prizes have a more serious side too, intending to recognise research that “first makes people laugh, and then makes them think”.

Reflecting this in some ways, the Peace prize was awarded to the President of Belarus for making it illegal to applaud in public.

Authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko rules the former Soviet nation with draconian laws, which led to German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle labelling him ‘Europe’s last dictator’ in 2012. Lukashenko responded to Westerwelle, who is openly homosexual, that it was “better to be a dictator than gay”. Joint winner with Lukashenko were the Belarus State Police who managed to arrest a one-armed man for applauding.

The Public Health prize and Medicine prize were awarded for matters seemingly ludicrous but definitely not to be laughed at.

A study into penile re-attachment after amputations, often by jealous wives, was recognised in the former category, and the assessment of how listening to opera affects mice heart transplant patients in the latter.While researchers admitted they werent exactly sure why opera helped the mice recover, the harmony of Verdi and Mozart could be the new weapon in helping transplant patients to recover. Which is music to medicine's ears.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power