Improbable Research is an organisation that honours research which makes people laugh and then think.
“Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” —Sherlock Holmes
Improbably Research collects (and sometimes conducts) improbable research which is featured in its bimonthly magazine, the Annals of Improbable Research, and it has also administered the Ig Nobel Prizes since 1994.
The 2013 Ig Nobel Prize Winners were announced this week:
MEDICINE PRIZE: for assessing the effect of listening to opera, on heart transplant patients who are mice.
PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE: for confirming, by experiment, that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.
JOINT PRIZE IN BIOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY: for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.
SAFETY ENGINEERING PRIZE: for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap
airplane hijackers — the system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane’s specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival.
PHYSICS PRIZE: for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond — if those people and that pond were on the moon.
CHEMISTRY PRIZE: for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists previously realized.
ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE: for parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing the shrew without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days — all so they could see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system, and which bones would not.
PEACE PRIZE: president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public, AND to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.
PROBABILITY PRIZE: for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up; and Second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.
PUBLIC HEALTH PRIZE: for the medical techniques described in their report “Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam” — techniques which they recommend, except in cases where the amputated penis had been partially eaten by a duck.