This year's Ig Nobel awards have just been presented by the science humor publication "Annals of Improbable Research," and the 2013 crop of dubious achievements did not disappoint. They included the revelation that lost dung beetles can use the Milky Way's light for homeward navigation.
The magazine also awarded this year's physics prize for the discovery that, yes, humans can walk on water ... well, so long as the humans and the water are on the moon. Kind of a buzzkill, that caveat!
Let's revisit some more Ig Nobel winners, past and present.
If you've ever found yourself musing, "I wonder if cows become more likely to lie down the longer they stand up," then this year's Ig Nobel prize for probability is for you.
A U.K. team snagged the prize for figuring out that the longer a cow has been lying down the more likely it is that it will soon stand up and (if that weren't enough) once that cow stands up, the probability game is over: It gets much harder to predict when that restless cow will lie down again.
The 2012 psychology prize winner tackled the burning question of how posture influences the estimation of the size of things. It turns out that leaning to the left caused people to make underestimate the size of the Eiffel Tower, while leaning to the right elicited higher estimates.
Sadly, there wasn't much suspense about the discovery. The researchers put a spoiler in their paper's title: "Leaning to the Left Makes the Eiffel Tower Seem Smaller."
The Ig Nobel team parsed the study, "Fetal Load and the Evolution of Lumbar Lordosis in Bipedal Hominins," and then awarded its researchers a 2009 Physics Ig Nobel for determining why pregnant women don't just tip over.
No word on whether the study was inspired by Weebles.
Rats can never seem to catch a break. They're used by the billions in research, loathed and feared by humans, and in 2007 they suffered a cruel indignity: being forced to listen to humans talking backwards.
That year's Linguistics Ig Nobel went to a trio of researchers who showed that rats had trouble telling the difference between someone speaking Japanese backwards and someone speaking Dutch backwards. Perhaps speaking forwards made things too easy for the rats.
Though science is its chief domain, the Ig Nobel prize team doesn't ignore literature, and in 2012 it awarded the U.S. Government a prize for achieving the rare feat of creating "a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports."
The, er, report in question? "Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies."
Woodpeckers are fun, although not so fun when they're banging on your vinyl siding trying to attract a mate at 6 a.m. Does all that pecking make their heads hurt?
A 2006 Ornithology Ig Nobel went to a team that bore into the question and concluded, nope: Woodpeckers don't get headaches. No wonder they're able to keep at it!
Sure, food can taste good, but who knew it helps if it sounds good, too? A European research duo took home a Nutrition Ig Nobel for modifying the sound of a potato chip so it would make the eater of the chip think it was fresher than it really was.
In 2005, the Ig Nobel Peace Prize went to a U.K. team that electronically monitored a brain cell in a locust while the critter watched highlights from the film "Star Wars." We know audiences loved that movie, but was it thumbs-up or down for the locust? We'll never know.
The year 2002 saw the Ig Nobel team award its coveted Physics prize to a University of Munich researcher for settling the old argument of whether or not beer froth obeys the mathematical Law of Exponential Decay. Good news, and bottoms-up, because it does!