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Rediff.com  » News » They even have Nobel prize for bat sex, roller coasters, whale snot and more...

They even have Nobel prize for bat sex, roller coasters, whale snot and more...

Last updated on: October 16, 2010 12:33 IST

There's a Nobel even for bat sex and whale snot

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The Ig Nobel Prizes are given out in ten fields for quirky and strange scientific achievements and are considered to be a satirical take on the prestigious Noble Prize.

This year, the Ig Nobel in the field of engineering was given to Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse, Agnes Rocha-Gosselin and Diane Gendron for 'perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter', according to the official website of the awards ceremony.

"Three women put together a remote-controlled helicopter that could fly up to surfaced whales and collect breath samples. There turned out to be enough mucus in the samples that the researchers could obtain a sampling of the bacterial community living in their respiratory tract," according to the IT/science website arstechnica.com.

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Image: A white whale reacts to a young visitor as she admires the marine creature
Photographs: Reuters
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'Asthma can be treated with a roller-coaster ride'

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The award was founded by the Improbable Research, an organisation that honours scientific ideas 'that make people laugh and then think'.

The award in the field of medicine went to Simon Rietveld and Ilja van Beest for 'discovering that symptoms of asthma can be treated with a roller-coaster ride'.

"A pair of Dutch researchers found that the shortness of breath from asthma went down after a ride, during a period in which the participants experienced positive emotional stress', says arstechnica.com.


Image: Japanese women ride a roller-coaster at Toshimaen amusement park in Tokyo
Photographs: Yuriko Nakao/Reuters
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'People slip and fall less if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes'

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The award in the field of Physics was awarded to Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams and Patricia Priest 'for demonstrating that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes'.

"Despite some residual scientific uncertainty, because of the high frequency of ice-related falls in our population, the cheap and simple nature of the socks-over-shoes intervention, and the absence of physical harm (if correctly fitted), we feel inspired to join an eminent professor, herself a long-time proponent of socks, in adopting this practice this winter," the paper by the three scientists concluded.


Image: A man walks along a icy footpath
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters
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'Swearing relieves pain'

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Barack Obama may have surprised many by winning the Nobel Prize for peace last year, but the Ig Nobel in peace was awarded to a bunch of scientists who confirmed the widely held belief that swearing relieves pain.

The recipients of the award were Richard Stephens, John Atkins, and Andrew Kingston. They stated in their research, "Swearing increased pain tolerance, increased heart rate and decreased perceived pain compared with not swearing."


Image: Chile's Humberto Suazo reacts after a foul during a soccer match
Photographs: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters
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'Microbes cling to bearded scientists''

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Microbes cling to bearded scientists. Manuel Barbeito, Charles Mathews, and Larry Taylor received the Ig Nobel in the field of public health for proving this fact through their experiments. The trio's research paper, which won the award, was titled  'Microbiological Laboratory Hazard of Bearded Men'.

"Beards retained microorganisms and toxins despite washing with soap and water," they concluded.


Image: The winners of the European Beard Championship
Photographs: Herwig Prammer/Reuters
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'Oil and water do mix'

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British Petroleum, which had hit the headlines for the most disastrous oil spill in the US in decades, is one of the recipients of the Ig Nobel in chemistry.

BP shares the award with Eric Adams, Scott Socolofsky and Stephen Masutani, for showing that oil and water do mix. "The three researchers got credit for a 2001 project in which they released a mix of hydrocarbons deep off Norway to simulate a deep-ocean oil leak", says arstechnica.com.

BP was also given the award for providing 'real-world data' for the research. Sadly, the petroleum giant didn't send any representative to collect the award.


Image: Bands of oil float on the water near the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
Photographs: Dan Anderson/Reuters
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Sex habits of bats!

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And just when you thought the achievements or researches recognised by the Ig Nobel could not get any weirder, the award in the field of biology was given to a group of scientists who are trying to find out more details about bat sex!

The Ig Nobel in the field of biology was awarded to Libiao Zhang, Min Tan, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, and Shuyi Zhang and Gareth Jones 'for scientifically documenting fellatio (oral sex) in fruit bats'.


Image: Fruit bats rest on tree branches
Photographs: John Javellana/Reuters
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