More about scientific research
Writer Alfred Jarry said in his posthumous book Antics and opinions of dr. Faustroll, pataphysic, written in the late nineteenth century, that this discipline, attributed by him to the fictitious researcher, was “the science of imaginary solutions”, based, according to his multiple followers around the world, in the search for the strangeness that exists in everyday life, for the hidden singularity not usual. With this philosophy, Harvard University (United States) annually hosts the Ig Nobel, awards that contrast with the famous original Swedish Academy version. The awards seek, according to Marc Abrahams, editor and co-founder of the scientific humor magazine that grants them, the Annals of Improbable Research, “make laugh and then think”. Orgasm as a nasal decongestant; why pedestrians don’t clash; the importance of transporting rhinos by air upside down — these are some of the investigations awarded this year with the dubious honor, which consists of a diploma in PDF and a 10 trillion Zimbabwean dollar bill (which was worth less than two reais when came out of circulation in 2015).
As every year, the Ig Nobel (pun intended) ceremony ends with Abrahams’ catchphrase: “If you didn’t win an award tonight, and especially if you did, have better luck next year.” . The winners were as follows:
Medicine. Does sex improve nasal function? The award honors a German, Turkish and British study of 18 couples, which the authors say shows that orgasm can be as effective as nasal decongestants and improve nose breathing for up to an hour after intercourse. The work was published in Ear, Nose & Throat Journal.
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Ecology. The discarded gum bacterioma. The team of Spaniard Manuel Porcar, from the University of Valencia, and the company Darwin Bioprospecting Excellence was awarded for the use of genetic analysis to identify the species of bacteria in chewing gum stuck to the floor of cities in several countries. The study The wasted chewing gum bacteriome was published by Scientific Reports, from the Nature group.
Biology. A comparative acoustic analysis of the purring of four cats. Swedish research took this category of awards for analyzing variations around purring as well as chanting, talking, twittering, joking, murmuring, meowing, moaning, wheezing, whistling, howling, grunting and other modes of communication between cats and humans. A acoustic comparative analysis of purring in four cats came out in Phonetik procedures.
Chemistry. the smell of movie audience as a tool for rating movies. A team from Germany, UK, New Zealand, Greece, Cyprus and Austria decided that viewers’ body scent is significant for knowing the genre of a film and the recommended age for viewing it. The study, Proof of concept study: testing human volatile organic compounds tools for age classification of films, published in PLoS One, argues that analysis of the air in theaters, through tests of the audience’s body aroma, reveals the levels of violence, sex, antisocial behavior, drug use and inappropriate language in the projected film.
Economy. THE obesity of a country’s politicians is an indicator of corruption. This is the premise of the investigation of a French, Swiss, Australian, Austrian and Czech group that earned him the distinction. According to the study, Obesity of politicians and corruption in post Soviet countries, published in Economics of transition and institutional change, the images of 299 ministers from 15 countries that were part of the Soviet Union demonstrate that body mass is “highly related” with conventional indicators of corruption.
Peace. Men developed beards to protect themselves from punches in the face. The magazine Integrative Organism Biology, from Oxford Academic, published Impact protection potential of mammalian hair. According to the authors of this study, given the theories that attribute the beard to a sign of masculinity, “it can serve, similarly to the long hair of a lion’s mane, to protect vital areas such as the throat and jaw from lethal attacks” . The experiment consisted of striking a bone-like structure with and without capillary coverage.
Physics. Why pedestrians collide or not with each other. Another international team (from Europe, the United States and Taiwan) was awarded for their experiments trying to understand why passersby don’t constantly bump into each other. THE Physical Review published Physics-based modeling and data representation of pairwise interactions among pedestrians, which concludes that “social forces can act both on the planned path and on the path effectively followed”. In this same field, but in the form of kinetics, an opposite study was awarded on why pedestrians sometimes clash. Mutual anticipation can contribute to self-organization in human crowds came out in Science Advances.
Entomology. Cockroaches on submarines. Again Oxford Academic won an award, this time with its publication Journal of economic entomology, by the article A new method of cockroach control on submarines, a study on treatments to detoxify these vessels.
Transport. air transport from rhinos upside down. With an important African participation, absent in other categories, this latest award went to a study published in BioOne, The pulmonary and metabolic effects of suspension by the feet compared with lateral recumbency in immobilized black rhinoceroses (‘Diceros bicornis’) captured by aerial darting. This experiment analyzed the effects of air transport on previously anesthetized animals, concluding that the displacement position is more important than the product used to put the pachyderms to sleep.
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