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Penis stings, speed bump diagnoses, 888 children and the laws of urination - it's the winners of the 2015 Ig Nobel Awards


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Ever wondered where the most painful place on your body to be stung is?

Fortunately, this and other important questions have once again been answered through ‘improbable research’ rewarded that the IG Nobel Awards.

Ig Nobel 2015This year’s ceremony, held last night at Harvard, crowned the best new research answering the questions that have been on nobody’s mind – but probably should have been!

Some of the research was quite literally ‘painstaking’. Cornell researcher Michael Smith and Entomologist Justin Schmidt worked out how painful insect stings are and where it hurts the most.

Smith pressed bees against 25 parts of his body until they stung him. Five stings a day for 38 days, rating pain one to 10.

His conclusion the most painful places to be stung are the nostril, the upper lip and the shaft of the penis.

Schmidt added some colour to the world of bee sting knowledge with his ‘sting pain index’ rating on a scale of one to four. His in-depth descriptions of 78 sting types highlight the work of a man who is probably all too familiar with being stung.

In other pain related research the Diagnostic Medicine Prize went to work that determined that acute appendicitis can be accurately diagnosed by the amount of pain evident when the patient is driven over speed bumps.

Other notable awards given out this year went to an Australian and USA team who created a chemical recipe to partially unboil and egg to bag the Chemistry Prize.

The Physics winners deduced that mammals urinate, on average, for around 21 seconds. They have uncovered the universal ‘Law of Urination’ which is a huge advancement for science.

Researcher David Hu said: “the taller the pipe, the faster the pee”.

 “So the next time you’re waiting for someone to use the bathroom, just simply knock on the door and gently remind them,” he said.

“You should be done in just 21 seconds.”

Attempting to lay a historical conundrum to rest, Elisabeth Oberzaucher and Karl Grammer aimed to use maths to see whether and how Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty, the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, managed, during the years from 1697 through 1727, to father 888 children. This bagged the Mathematics Prize.

In Literature Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira and Nick J. Enfield won for finding out that every language has its equivalent of the word ‘Huh’, gaining extra credit for not being sure why.

Maybe proving the prehistoric link once and for all, the Biology Prize went to a Chile/USA team whose brilliant minds observed that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked.

So that was another year of improbable research uncovering answers to the most important questions we don’t really need answers too.

Find the full winners details here.

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