Australia lead the way in improbable research

The anxious wait is over…the Ig Nobel awards have been announced

Founded 20 years ago by Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, the Ig Nobel awards recognise genuine academic research and “honour achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think“.

This year, Australian researchers were at the forefront of Ig Nobel research with ground breaking work on the neurological effects of full bladders, and the discovery that the male buprestid beetle enjoys copulating with Australian beer bottles (stubbies). This follows on from other great Australian victories including the navel lint accrual postulate by Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki in 2001.

Hopefully the UCEM will gain ethics approval to commence randomised controlled trials into efficacy of the Defibritazer BP50KV, the ‘Toughen Up Pill‘ and the UCEM VAS Pain scale trials in 2012 and be in line for nomination for these prestigious awards.

Other award winners this year include:


Discovery: Some male beetles would rather spend time with a good beer, than a good woman


Discovery: Yawning is not globally contagious


Discovery: The Wasabi Alarm:

  • To determine the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm. [US patent application 2010/0308995 A1]
  • Makoto Imai, Naoki Urushihata, Hideki Tanemura, Yukinobu Tajima, Hideaki Goto, Koichiro Mizoguchi and Junichi Murakami

MEDICINE PRIZE (Joint award)

Discovery: People make better decisions about some kinds of things — but worse decisions about other kinds of things‚ when they have a strong urge to urinate

  • “Inhibitory Spillover: Increased Urination Urgency Facilitates Impulse Control in Unrelated Domains,” Mirjam A. Tuk, Debra Trampe and Luk Warlop, Psychological Science, vol. 22, no. 5, May 2011, pp. 627-633.
  • The Effect of Acute Increase in Urge to Void on Cognitive Function in Healthy Adults,” Matthew S. Lewis, Peter J. Snyder, Robert H. Pietrzak, David Darby, Robert A. Feldman, Paul T. Maruff, Neurology and Urodynamics, vol. 30, no. 1, January 2011, pp. 183-7.


Discovery: There is more to a sigh, than meets the eye


Discovery: Theory of Structured Procrastination, which states: “To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something that’s even more important.”


Discovery: Rational understanding of why discus throwers become dizzy, and why hammer throwers do not.


Inadvertent discovery: The extrapolation of mathematical calculations and assumptions to define global catastrophe may not always be accurate

  • Dorothy Martin of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1954)
  • Pat Robertson of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1982)
  • Elizabeth Clare Prophet of the USA (who predicted the world would end in 1990)
  • Lee Jang Rim of KOREA (who predicted the world would end in 1992)
  • Credonia Mwerinde of UGANDA (who predicted the world would end in 1999)
  • Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on September 6, 1994)
  • Harold Camping of the USA (who predicted the world would end on October 21, 2011)


Discovery: The problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.


Discovery: Proving the theory of death by flapping visor really exists – by conducting a series of safety experiments in which a person drives an automobile on a major highway while a visor repeatedly flaps down over his face, blinding him.

  • “The Attentional Demand of Automobile Driving,” John Senders of the University of Toronto, Highway Research Record, vol. 195, 1967, pp. 15-33.

Watch the entire ceremony

Utopian College of Emergency for Medicine

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

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