Much for pet and bacon lovers at this years Ig Nobels, which were awarded Thursday night. Go to the source for worldwide coverage or check out Carolyn Y. Johnson’s blog post for the Boston Globe.
Thursday night at Harvard University, Nobel laureates took the stage to hand out the Ig Nobels, a satirical version of the Nobel prizes, which will be announced in early October. This year, the prizes were awarded in 10 disciplines, ranging from the physics prize for at last explaining why banana peels are slippery, to the medicine prize for using strips of cured pork to stop a gushing nosebleed…
■ Public Health: The award was split between two teams for an investigation of the mental hazards of owning a cat.
Czech researchers chronicled personality changes in young cat ladies and documented a decline in I.Q. and adventure-seeking behavior by men who were infected by toxoplasmosis, a parasite commonly found in cat excrement. A US team scoured medical records from 1.3 million patients and found that depression was relatively common among women who had reported being bitten by cats, and that screening those who had bitten by pets might be fruitful.
■ Biology: A team of Czech and German researchers are being honored for their finding that when dogs poop and pee, they prefer to squat with their bodies facing in a north-south line. Even silly results aren’t trivial to arrive at: the team observed 70 dogs, from 37 breeds. That’s nearly 2,000 defecations and 5,582 urinations over two years of smelly observation.
Also, a nod to Our Lady of Perpetual Condensation:
Neuroscience: In “Seeing Jesus in Toast,” a team from China and Canada have clinched the neuroscience prize with an exploration of a phenomenon called face pareidolia, in which people see nonexistent faces. First, they tricked participants into thinking that a nonsense image had a face or letter hidden in it. Then, they carefully monitored brain activity in the participants they managed to convince, to understand which parts of our minds are to blame.