If you're willing to let a bee sting every part of your body in the name of science, you may have what it takes to win an Ig Nobel Prize. The annual awards ceremony for "improbable research" was held last night, the BBC reports, and a Cornell University researcher whose study involved hundreds of stings was among the winners. Michael Smith, who determined that the shaft of the penis, the nostril, and the upper lip are the worst places to be stung, shared the award with entomologist Justin Schmidt, who has been stung by scores of species and says the bullet ant delivers "pure, intense, brilliant pain, like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch rusty nail grinding into your heel," the Guardian reports. Among the other Ig Nobel winners:
- Austrian researchers determined that Moroccan Emperor Moulay Ismael could indeed have sired 888 kids if he had sex every day during his 30-year reign. He had a harem of 500 women, but the researchers determined he would have only needed 65, the AP reports.
- A trio of Dutch researchers determined that "Huh?" is used in almost every human language.
- Chilean and US researchers attached sticks to chickens and found the fake tails made them walk like dinosaurs, according to Ig Nobel-winning paper "Walking Like Dinosaurs: Chickens With Artificial Tails Provide Clues about Non-Avian Theropod Locomotion."
- The management award was won by researchers who found that business leaders who witnessed natural disasters like earthquakes or floods when they were children were more likely to take risks—but only if they were not at significant risk of harm during the incident.
- All mammals over 6 pounds or so—from sheep to people to humans—empty their bladders in around 21 seconds, according to the Ig Nobel-winning "universal urination theory." The lead researcher tells the BBC that the finding means smaller rodents like rats, which pee in under a second, are probably a poor choice for medical research into urination.
- Un-boiling an egg may sound like one of the silliest projects of the lot, but the "vortex fluid machine" used by the winning American and Australian researchers has the potential to transform everything from cancer treatments to cheese-making, the Guardian notes.
(Last year's winners
involved "Jesus toast" and people in polar bear suits.)