Health benefits of cannibalism & treating kidney stones with roller coasters - Ig Nobel Prize 2018

Health benefits of cannibalism & treating kidney stones with roller coasters - Ig Nobel Prize 2018
How beneficial is eating humans compared to other animals? How to best perform colonoscopy at home? Will stabbing a voodoo doll of your abusive boss help you? There are papers that answer all these questions.

On Thursday, Harvard’s Sanders Theatre hosted the award ceremony of the 28th Ig Nobel Prize, given for the weirdest and funniest scientific research. Some of this year’s laureates did some really chilling research to win their spots at the event.

Human cannibalism was studied by James Cole, who proved that eating other people is bad. Not in the sense of breaking a taboo, but in the sense that such a diet provides significantly less calories that most other traditional meat diets. But on the other hand it would help you lose weight. He got the Nutrition Prize for it. And no, the study was based on Paleolithic evidence, not modern-day experiments.

Another health-related prize went to Japan, where a group of medics a decade ago penned a paper on how to best perform self-colonoscopy procedure at home. Gastroenterologist Akira Horiuchi wrote from a personal experience and reported “mild discomfort” with then-newly developed small-caliber probe meant for pediatric use.

Even older medical research conducted in 1980 marked by an Ig Nobel Prize deals with a different kind of examination – finding out whether a man had erection during night sleep. A roll of stamps looped around a flaccid penis gives the right answer with an almost 100% accuracy, as an international team of medics from the US, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India and Bangladesh described. “Sex and the City” fans, rejoice to know that the trick, which Charlotte used in season three, is scientifically approved.

Another piece of good health advice comes from a duo of American researchers, who proved that riding a roller coaster may hasten the passage of kidney stones. Sitting in the back section of the car is best for this purpose, they found out with the help of some 3D-printed kidney models and the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Two studies on the ceremony list dealt with balance of mind rather than health of body. Spanish researchers monitored how and why people shout and curse while driving – an effort that won them the Ig Nobel Peace Prize. Meanwhile an international study done by scientists in North American and Asian countries focused on the benefits of sticking needles into a voodoo doll of one’s abusive boss. It won’t hurt the boss, but gives a sense of relief that is good for workplace environment, they said.

A study of aping won this year’s Anthropology Prize. It turns out that the term may been coined the wrong way around, since apes, or more precisely chimpanzees in zoos imitate humans about as well and as often as vice versa. Chemistry Prize went to Portuguese researchers, who got interested in the cleaning properties of saliva. And the Literature Prize was awarded for proving what we all intuitively suspected all along – most people don’t read instruction manuals. “Life is too short to RTFM”, explains the headline of the paper.

Last but not least, it is a scientific fact that a trained wine connoisseur can detect by smell the presence of a single fly Drosophila melanogaster in a glass. An empty glass. As long as she is female, that is, because the scientists were actually interested in a smelly pheromone, which is produced only by the females.

The Ig Nobel Prize is organized by satirical science magazine the Annals of Improbable Research and winner get the award of $10 trillion. Only it’s Zimbabwean dollars, so about four if paid in US currency.

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