Ig Nobel prizes honor do-it-yourself colonoscopies, a curious use for postage stamps, and other peculiar research

Science | AAAS | 9/13/2018 | Staff
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Tonight, as has become a yearly tradition, a historic theater at Harvard University was packed to the rafters with Nobel laureates and a rapt audience. They weren’t there to witness a sacrosanct scientific ceremony, but rather the 28th annual Ig Nobel Prizes, an honor bestowed on studies treasured as much for their hilarity as their scientific value. Although the theme of this year’s event, put on by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, was “the heart,” much of the winning research focused on decidedly less glamorous parts of the human anatomy.

Take this year’s prize in medicine, which went to a pair of doctors who investigated whether riding a rollercoaster can help pass a kidney stone. The duo took 3D-printed kidney models for 20 rides on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Sitting in the back sections of the car yielded a 64% success rate for passing a stone, compared with 17% when seated at the front, the researchers reported in 2016 in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Trio - Urologists - Home - Prize - Medicine

A trio of urologists took home the prize in reproductive medicine for their now 4-decade-old technique for measuring nighttime erections. They instructed several male volunteers to wrap a ring of postage stamps snugly around their **** at bedtime and check in the morning for tears in the perforation. The method, they reported in 1980 in The Journal of Urology, was nearly 100% accurate. The researchers clarified that they manufactured their own stamps for the experiment, as using official U.S. postage “required permission from the Secret Service.”

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