For some people, it's the Oscars. Others love the Tonys or the Video Music Awards. True geeks go for the Webbys and the Shorties. But for me, the awards event of the year has always been the Ig Nobel Prizes. Presented by the Annals of Improbable Research, the Ig Nobels "honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think."
Or, the "I can't believe somebody actually was granted thousands of dollars to research this stuff and yet, they were" awards.
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Last Thursday, the 23rd annual Ig Nobels ceremony took place at Harvard University. You can watch a Webcast of it here. Here's the tl;dw version: If you're going in for heart transplant and you happen to be a mouse, you'd do well to develop a taste for opera. Drinking beer doesn't really make you more attractive, despite what you may think. If you happen to be rolling a large ball of feces in front of you, it pays to look up once in a while. And if someone offers to make you a bet on a lying cow, don't take it.
With a song in their hearts
The Ig Nobel for Medicine was awarded to researchers at Teikyo University in Tokyo, who discovered that mice given heart transplants lived 26 days after listening to "La Traviata," or nearly three weeks longer than mice who listened to nothing at all. Mozart-loving mice lasted an extra 13 days, per the study, but rodents subjected to mystical Gaelic yodeling of Enya perished after 11 days. (Sadly, Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was not included as part of the test bed.)
The best part: The researchers showed up to collect their award dressed as mice.
Beer's lookin at ya
A study by researchers in the United States, France, and the Netherlands won the Psychology prize for examining "the role of alcohol consumption on self-perceived attractiveness." Not surprisingly, people who are tipsy think themselves hotter than when they are sober. But that's not all:
A truly amazing aspect of the findings was that people who only believed they were drunk, but who actually consumed placebo drinks made to taste alcoholic, believed they too were becoming steadily more attractive with each drink -- just like their counterparts who really were intoxicated.
The name of that study: "Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder." I really want to find out who funded that one. I have several excellent ideas for follow-on research. With any luck, maybe the Google Glass crew can pitch in as well.