7 award-winning scientific studies that are too weird to believe

west village halloween parade mad scientistDan Goodman/Business Insider

The Nobel Prize is perhaps the most coveted recognition for scientific achievement in the world.

But the lesser known "Ig Nobel" is an award that scientists get for unusual, surprising, or just downright strange research.

As a parody of the Nobel Prize, the Ig Nobels "are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology," according to the Ig Nobel website.

This year's prizes were announced Sept. 17. Here are seven scientific studies that received the dubious honor this year.

When you attach a weighted stick to a chicken's butt, the chicken walks in the same manner that the dinosaurs are thought to have walked.

Birds share a lot of traits with their dinosaur ancestors, but one of the biggest differences is that many dinosaurs had elaborate tails.

So researchers attached an artificial tail, essentially a toilet plunger-looking weighted stick, to chickens, and the extra weight made them walk like the dinosaurs used to walk.

We were really hoping to find some videos of this published with the research, but sadly no dice.

We now know how long it takes the average mammal (including humans) to empty its bladder.

It's about 21 seconds, plus or minus 13 seconds.

To figure this out, the scientists spent a lot of time watching videos of animals peeing at the Atlanta zoo.

Their study is called "Duration of urination does not change with body size," and it was published May 14 in the journal PNAS. 

 

 

 

One brave scientist got honey bees to sting him repeatedly in 25 different spots on his body to see which area hurt the most.

You can see the body parts that entomologist Michael Smith subjected to bee stings in the illustration to the right. He rated his pain on a scale of 1 to 10 for each body part

Unsurprisingly, "All the stings induced pain in the author," the scientific study published in the journal PeerJ states.

The nostril, the upper lip, and penis shaft were the three most painful. The skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm were the three least painful.

A team of scientists figured out a way to (partially) un-boil an egg.

All the researchers had to do was sprinkle some chemicals on a boiled egg to reverse the clumping. The chemicals pulled apart tangled proteins in the egg and allowed them to refold.

The researchers say this could salvage sticky material that gets stuck in test tubes during experiments, and eventually it could be applied to the cheese-making and pharmaceutical industries. 

The scientific study was published Feb. 9 in the journal ChemBioChem. There's also a handy graphic that shows how it works.

We've learned there may be some surprising biological benefits of "intense kissing."

We've learned there may be some surprising biological benefits of "intense kissing."
NBC/"Saturday Night Live"

The research suggests that the saliva exchange can reduce a person's allergic response.

But the set up for the experiment sounds hilarious: "The subject kissed freely during 30 min with their lover or spouse alone in a room with closed doors while listening to soft music," the researchers write in the study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior.

Turns out you can diagnose acute appendicitis by seeing how much pain patients experience when they are driven over a speed bump.

It's hard to diagnose appendicitis, which is a problem because the condition settles in very quickly and can prove fatal if it's not treated immediately.

"Asking about speed bumps may contribute to clinical assessment and could be useful in telephone assessment of patients," the researchers write in their paper published in BMJ.

So we guess that's one reason to stop complaining about the speed bumps — they could help save your life one day. 

Could Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty — the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco — really father 888 children in just 30 years?

Could Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty — the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco — really father 888 children in just 30 years?
Public domain

Biology textbooks often cite this emperor, who is said to have sired 888 children between 1697 and 1727.

"Therefore we developed a computer simulation which tests how many copulations per day were necessary to reach the reported reproductive outcome," the researchers write in the paper published in the journal PLOS ONE.

They concluded the emperor needed to have sex somewhere between an average of 1.43 and 1.63 times a day to achieve that number of children.

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