Compared to 2005, I'd have to say that 2006 had more of its share of some very questionable research. These are the science experiments that make you scratch your head and wonder, just what were they thinking?
I'm sure these kinds of experiments are valuable to somebody. Maybe. Personally, I believe these projects are just an excuse for scientists to goof off.
So, here are some of my favorite Ig Nobel Prize Winners of 2006:
NUTRITION: Wasmia Al-Houty of Kuwait University and Faten Al-Mussalam of the Kuwait Environment Public Authority, for showing that dung beetles are finicky eaters.
REFERENCE: "Dung Preference of the Dung Beetle Scarabaeus cristatus Fab (Coleoptera-Scarabaeidae) from Kuwait," Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Musalam, Journal of Arid Environments.
Dung beetles are finicky eaters? Yeah right. Um...they eat SHIT!
MATHEMATICS: Nic Svenson and Piers Barnes of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization, for calculating the number of photographs you must take to (almost) ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their eyes closed.
REFERENCE: "Blink-Free Photos, Guaranteed," Velocity, June 2006.
In any group photo, there's always going to be at least one moron that closes his eyes. And usually I'm the moron. By the way, they found that in general, if you take half the number of people, that's how many shots it'll take to get a blink-less photograph.
LITERATURE: Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University for his report "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly."
REFERENCE: "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly," Daniel M. Oppenheimer, Applied Cognitive Psychology.
So the manifestation of this verbal masterbation simply showed how the constipationary use of erectile words will often mis-vibrate even the most scholastical impersonators.
"Hey, I ain't no venereal fuddrucker!"
CHEMISTRY: Antonio Mulet, José Javier Benedito and José Bon of the University of Valencia, Spain, and Carmen Rosselló of the University of Illes Balears, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, for their study "Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature."
REFERENCE: "Ultrasonic Velocity in Cheddar Cheese as Affected by Temperature," Antonio Mulet, José Javier Benedito, José Bon, and Carmen Rosselló, Journal of Food Science.
I had to read that title over and over again. Perhaps this research is valuable whenever you're in a food fight? It's always good to know that frozen cheddar slices make a faster projectile than cubed mozzarella.
ACOUSTICS: D. Lynn Halpern (of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and Brandeis University, and Northwestern University), Randolph Blake (of Vanderbilt University and Northwestern University) and James Hillenbrand (of Western Michigan University and Northwestern University) for conducting experiments to learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.
REFERENCE: "Psychoacoustics of a Chilling Sound," D. Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand, Perception and Psychophysics.
This was a study you couldn't pay me enough money to participate in. What did they find? They believe our hatred of fingernails scraping on a blackboard was nearly identical to several types of primates' warning screams. So it's some sort of leftover vestigal reflexive response.
I'm a little skeptical, as most humans quit flinging poop at each other millions of years ago.
MEDICINE: Francis M. Fesmire of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, for his medical case report,"Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage"; and Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven of Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, for their subsequent medical case report also titled "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage."
REFERENCE: "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage," Francis M. Fesmire, Annals of Emergency Medicine.
What's funnier? Francis massaging test subjects' poop chutes, or the fact that it was published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine?