Ig Nobel Prizes Go to Why Beetles Have Sex with Certain Beer Bottles and Why People Sigh

Saturday, October 01, 2011
John Senders at work
Observations of beer-bottle humping beetles topped the list of recipients at this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes, the event that gives scientists and others a chance to laugh at themselves and each other.
Instead of honoring great breakthroughs in science and human understanding, the Ig Nobels celebrate the peculiar endeavors of research, including those that fall into the was-that-really-necessary category.
Entomologists Darryl Gwynne and David Rentz were awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in biology for taking the time to notice that some Australian beetles will try to copulate with empty beer bottles (but only those that are brown and bumpy). Their study was entitled “Beetles on the Bottle: Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbies for Females (Coleoptera).”
The Ig Nobel for physics went to a team of European researchers who focused on why discus throwers—the athletes who spin furiously around in a circle—get dizzy, while hammer thrower don’t.
Karl Halvor Teigen of the University of Oslo in Norway received the psychology prize for trying to understand why people sigh.
Another European, Artūras Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius in Lithuania, took home the Ig Nobel Peace Prize for demonstrating that the way to deal with illegally parked luxury cars is to crush them with an armored tank.
The physiology prize went to Anna Wilkinson and Natalie Sebanz for their riveting study that concluded “No evidence of contagious yawning in the red-footed tortoise Geochelone carbonaria.”
A retrospective award for public safety research went to John Senders of the University of Toronto for his 1967 experiment in which drivers proceeded down a major highway with a visor flapping in front of their faces, temporarily blinding them.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Winners of the Ig Nobel Prize (Annals of Improbable Research)


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