News » Curious Times

Science Will Save the World... But Not Yet



It's that time once again when the most useless scientific research of the year is honored with the Ig Nobel Awards. The Ig Nobel Prize ceremony was created by the editors of the Annals of Improbable Research in order to recognize "achievements" in science which would otherwise go unnoticed because they are so stupid. A few of the "winners" include a team of Californian researchers who explored why woodpeckers don't get headaches and an inventor who created an electromechanical teenager repellent (a device which makes annoying noises which only teenagers can hear, and has been used with success outside of suburban 7-11 stores... no really, I'm not making this up). In the field of Mathematics, Australian researchers won the prize for calculating the number of photographs you must take to ensure that nobody in a group photo will have their eyes closed, while the prize in Acoustics went to scientists who conducted experiments to discover why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard in their paper titled "Psychoacoustics of a Chilling Sound." Finally, my favorite, the prize in Medicine which went to doctors who discovered that a finger up the anus could cure hiccups in their research published under the title "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage." The complete list of winners is at


If you've been abducted by aliens and are ready to sue for damages there is a lawyer in Germany willing to take your case. "There's quite obviously demand for legal advice here," claims Jens Lorek. "The trouble is, people are afraid of making fools of themselves in court." Lorek hopes to take advantage of a German law which gives state compensation to kidnap victims. (Reuters)


An initial study which used Botox injections to try to relieve depression seems to have been wildly successful. Dr. Eric Finzi of the Chevy Chase Cosmetic Center began the experiment to see if preventing a patient from frowning would help relieve the symptoms of depression. To his amazement, two months after injecting botox into the brows of his clinically depressed patients, nine out of 10 of the test subjects no longer suffered from the depression. "To feel emotions, you have to express it on the face," said the doctor. "You're basically preventing people from expressing those sad and angry emotions on their face. Somehow, that's feeding back directly to the brain." Oh, and conveniently enough, the antidepressant effect wears off along with the botox injection, meaning if you want to be happy, you need a $400 shot of botox every three months. (King 5 News)

World's most BORING MAN

A Japanese man spent 16 1/2 hours last week breaking his own record for memorizing the digits of pi. Akira Haraguchi, 60, broke his previous record of 83,431 by reeling off 100,000 digits of pi in a record attempt which started at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and didn't end until 1:28 p.m. on the following Wednesday. "I'm certainly no genius," claimed Haraguchi. "I'm just an ordinary old guy." (Mainichi Daily News)


Researchers in India are supposedly working on beneficial alternative uses for the tobacco plant. According to scientists at the Central Tobacco Research Station, the much-maligned plant could be used as a high-protein diet supplement, a healing agent in burn victims, and even as a hypoallergenic formula for babies. According to this report, which sounds completely made up (but what do I know?), bioengineers have already used tobacco plants in the preparation of antibiotics, vaccines, anti-cancer drugs, blood substitutes, biodegradable plastics and industrial enzynes. (


Speaking of nicotine, London's Sunday Times has revealed documents that show that many major cigarette manufacturers lace their smokes with an assortment of sweeteners and sugary flavorings in order, critics say, to make cigarettes more palatable to children. Among 14 sweeteners in a Marlboro cigarette are cocoa, licorice root and sucrose syrup. Benson & Hedges includes caramel and sorbitol (among others) and Camel Lights contain 13 sweeteners including maple syrup and honey.

Get more at