Beetle sex and pissing win Ig Nobel prizes

The world’s maddest scientific studies have again been recognised at the Ig Nobels, with research into beetle sex and urination taking top awards.

A spoof of the prestigious Nobel Prize awards, the ethos of the Ig Nobels is ‘to make people laugh, then make them think’.

Over 1,200 guests at Harvard University saw genuine Nobel Prize winners hand out Ig awards to researchers nominated in a number of different categories.

The biology prize went to a piece of research that observed beetles trying to mate with Australian beer bottles, or stubbis. It seems the insects are so enamoured with the bottles that they overwork themselves and die in the hot sun.

In the medicine category, a Dutch-Belgian-Australian team charged themselves with investigating why people ‘make better decisions about some kinds of things – but worse decisions about other kinds of things, when they have a strong urge to urinate’, in a piece entitled ‘Inhibitory Spillover’.

Meanwhile, a study on why people sigh took the psychology award, while physicists applauded the research into why discus throwers become dizzy, yet hammer throwers do not.

Despite the bizarre nature of these research projects, they do have a serious side to them.

Professor Darryl Gwynne said that his study of how male beetles ignore the females of the species and instead throw themselves at beer bottles asks an important question about the effect human interference has on the natural world.

On this note, nature lovers may well be relieved to hear that the winners of the physiology prize have conclusively determined that there is ‘no evidence’ that yawning is contagious in the red-footed tortoise.

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