Serious Science Earns (Irreverent) Honors

Last night, scientists were agog with anticipation as the Ig Noble awards, now in its 25th year, were presented to ten new winners. The purpose of the awards was to highlight “Research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK”. Last year, my favorite was the award given for research showing cured pork could be used to stop nosebleeds. I enjoy injecting that fact in conversation just add to the mystique that is bacon and salt pork. Not only is it delicious but good for you too! So what did 2015 bring to the table?

There was information on basic bodily functions (nearly every mammal takes about 21 seconds to urinate regardless of size), answer age-old questions (yes, you can [partially] unboil an egg but no word about which came first chicken or egg), medical diagnostic techniques (take a potential appendicitis case, drive them over a bumpy road and see how much pain results), the Jurassic era (chickens are induced to “walk like a dinosaur” with the addition of toilet plunger on its rear end), language edification (“huh?” is a universal word), economic solutions (pay police officers more not to take bribes), business risk taking (business leaders take more risks after experiencing natural disasters that don’t personally affect them), reproductive curiosity (could one historical man have fathered 888 children in his lifetime?), pain threshold exploration (one group of researchers created an insect sting pain index while one individual challenged himself to experience a bee sting on 25 different parts of his tender body) and the benefits of kissing (yes, someone studied the consequences of “intimate interpersonal activities”).

These awards encompass quite a range of research. The ceremony itself involved paper plane throwing, but only at designated times, an opera focused on the year’s theme of Life, and previous Nobel and Ig Noble winners in the audience. Award winners joined in the fun too as one of the winners came on stage wearing a toilet seat on his head. Can you guess what was the focus of his research? And of course, livestreaming video of the ceremony and live tweeting from @Improbresearch for those who could not make it.

You can read all about the award winners with links to their research at Improbable Research.

As for picking a favorite from 2015 award winners, I am debating between the induced dino-chicken and the appendicitis diagnosis method. Which was your favorite?

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Sara Klink

Technical Writer at Promega Corporation
Sara is a native Wisconsinite who grew up on a fifth-generation dairy farm and decided she wanted to be a scientist at age 12. She was educated at the University of Wisconsin—Parkside, where she earned a B.S. in Biology and a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology before earning her second Master’s degree in Oncology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. She has worked for Promega Corporation for more than 15 years, first as a Technical Services Scientist, currently as a Technical Writer. Sara enjoys talking about her flock of entertaining chickens and tries not to be too ambitious when planning her spring garden.

One thoughtful comment

  1. My favorite winner is Youyou Tu. She is the first Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine in China. Having engaged in traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine research for many years, Tu made great contribution to new antimalarial— artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin. The artemisinin-based compound medicine has now become a standard treatment for malaria, saving millions of lives all around the world, especially that of developing countries. Read more about Youyou Tu at

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