Studies on kissing, the word ‘huh?’ among Ig Nobel award winners


BOSTON Researchers who studied the consequences of intense kissing, the global use of the word “huh?” and how badly bee stings hurt on different parts of the body were among the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes for comical scientific achievements.

The annual prizes, meant to entertain and encourage global research and innovation, are awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research as a whimsical counterpart to the Nobel Prizes, which will be announced next month.

Among the 10 awards, three went to teams of researchers that revealed that nearly all mammals regardless of size take about 21 seconds to pee, showed it is possible to partially un-boil an egg with chemicals, and used math to determine how a North African emperor from the 17th century fathered 888 children in just 30 years.

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Other teams earned prizes for attaching a weighted stick to a chicken’s rear end to demonstrate how dinosaurs might have walked, and for showing that acute appendicitis can be diagnosed by how much pain a patient feels when driven over speed bumps.

Researcher Michael L. Smith shared the physiology and entomology prize for arranging honey bees to sting him repeatedly on 25 different locations on his body, revealing that one of the most painful locations was on his penis.

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Former winners of real Nobels handed out the spoof awards at the ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, organized by Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals. The ceremony included a three-act mini-opera about a competition between the world’s millions of species to determine which one is the best.

The Ig Nobel medicine prize went to two teams of researchers who conducted experiments to study the biological effects of intense kissing, which include decreasing skin allergies, and the literature prize was given to researchers who showed that the word “huh?” appears to exist in every language.

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Ig Nobel prizes this year also went to researchers who showed many business leaders developed a fondness for risk-taking after surviving natural disasters in childhood, and to the Bangkok Metropolitan Police for offering to pay policemen more money in exchange for not taking bribes.

(Editing by Eric Walsh)