Recent big news for those who follow the IG Nobel Prizes. Now these awards are not the same as the Nobel Prizes. The IG awards recognize exceptionally obvious, goofy or insignificant results. The research topics often make readers laugh and why not?
The 2013 Medicine Prize was given to Japanese researchers, who did some interesting research on mice. The groundbreaking study, published in the Journal of Current Biology, focused on survival of mice, who had been given a heart transplant.
It turns out that those mice who, during surgery, had Mozart or opera music played, survived longer than those who had merely Enya or worse yet a single tone blared during the procedure.
I believe that this particular group should focus its next project on whether a similar surgery on some other unfortunate mammalian cousin of ours results in longer survival with Metallica or Led Zeppelin. What about Moody Blues vs Pink Floyd? Rolling Stones vs Beatles? Dare I mention Lady Gaga vs any other musician?
Yet there was at least one other runner up which in my humble opinion perhaps deserved the coveted IG Nobel Prize in Medicine. A group of researchers from Paris spent several months sifting through beach sand for seagull dung. These enterprising scientists determined that seagull dung contains quite a bit of resistant E coli bacteria. The resistance stems most likely from antibiotic pollution of the water and foods that these creatures consume. This same group wants to find out if their findings hold true for beaches in other continents.
Imagine, if you will, being a researcher in this group. You could look forward to an entire career of studying seagull droppings!
Not to be outdone, a European team was awarded the Biology AND Astronomy prize (what an achievement- two awards!) for solving a burning question: Whether dung beetles who roll balls of manure do so better under cloudy or clear skies. It turns out that yes, our little friends do a better job under clear skies. This means that these insects use the stars to navigate their prized manure.
Lest I forget, the psychology prize went to enterprising European scientists, who showed that the more alcohol which a volunteer test subject consumed, the more likely he or she rated themselves for attractiveness. Believe or not, this study, with its earth shattering findings, was actually published (British Journal of Psychology).
Stay tuned for announcements of the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize winners. Should be interesting.