The annual Ig Nobel prizes for odd research were handed out last night and the winning scientists were as weird as ever. Among the winners were a Japanese team that determined the ideal level of airborne wasabi to awaken sleepers (for a potential fire alarm), a Norwegian who tried to understand why people sigh, and Australian researchers who discovered that a certain species of beetle often attempts to mate with empty beer bottles, the Globe and Mail reports. Real Nobel winners handed out the prizes at the ceremony at Harvard.
The prize for public safety went to a Canadian who studied how well somebody could drive on a highway while wearing a helmet with a visor that repeatedly flapped over his face. The mayor of Vilnius won the peace prize for using a tank to crush cars parked in a bike lane. The mathematics prize went to six people—including rapture prophet Harold Camping—whose predictions of the end of the world turned out to be incorrect. The citation thanked the doomsday prophets "for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions." Scientific American has the full list. (Read more Ig Nobel Prizes stories.)