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British ‘speed bump’ test for appendicitis wins Ig Nobel Prize © iStock

British ‘speed bump’ test for appendicitis wins Ig Nobel Prize

Published: 18th September, 2015 at 00:00
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Do you experience pain when you go over a speed bump? You might have appendicitis according to Thursday’s British 2015 Ig Nobel Prize winners.

Do you experience pain when you go over a speed bump? You might have appendicitis. That’s according to Thursday’s 2015 British Ig Nobel Prize winners, who were joined by other great achievers in science such as the chicken that walks like a dinosaur, a man who repeatedly stings himself with a bee and a study into the length of time mammals pee.


Researchers from Stoke Mandeville Hospital published a paper in the BMJ after they discovered a number of patients with appendicitis had a particularly painful journey on their way through Aylesbury, a residential town with an unprecedented number of speed bumps. Their formal study found that 33 of 34 patients with appendicitis felt pain as they bumped their way through the sleepy Buckinghamshire town. This research that has, erm, shaken the world of science was enough for the team to bag themselves an Ig Nobel Prize for diagnostic medicine. Congratulations!

There were more winners on the night, ranging from a chicken dressed as a dinosaur (video later…) to the discovery of the word ‘huh?’. You can find the full list of 2015 Ig Nobel Prize winners here but you need go no further for a brief synopsis of the new boundaries explored in science:

  • The CHEMISTRY PRIZE was awarded for the invention of a chemical recipe to partially un-boil an egg (breakfast disasters averted?).
  • The PHYSICS PRIZE was awarded for a team who determined that nearly all mammals empty their bladders in about 21 seconds (plus or minus 13 seconds).
  • The LITERATURE PRIZE went to team who diligently scoured the world’s languages to discover that the word "huh?" (or its equivalent) seems to exist in every human language, though further study is required to ascertain why.
  • The MANAGEMENT PRIZE was awarded for discovering that many business leaders became risk-takers in childhood when they experienced natural disasters that had no dire personal consequences - for themselves.
  • The ECONOMICS PRIZE went to the Bangkok Metropolitan Police for offering to pay policemen extra cash if the policemen refuse to take bribes (emphasis added).
  • The MEDICINE PRIZE was awarded to two groups for experiments to study the biomedical benefits or biomedical consequences of intense kissing (and other intimate, interpersonal activities).
  • The MATHEMATICS PRIZE went to duo Elisabeth Oberzaucher and Karl Grammer who used mathematical techniques to determine whether Moulay Ismael the Bloodthirsty managed to father 888 between 1697 and 172.7
  • The BIOLOGY PRIZE was awarded to a team who observed that when you attach a weighted stick to the rear end of a chicken, the chicken then walks in a manner similar to that in which dinosaurs are thought to have walked.
  • And finally the PHYSIOLOGY and ENTOMOLOGY PRIZE was jointly awarded to two individuals, whose painstaking work into bees had a real sting in the tail. Justin Schmidt created Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which rates the relative pain people feel when stung by various insects, and Michael L. Smith had bees repeatedly sting him on 25 different locations on his body, to learn which locations are the least painful (the skull, middle toe tip, and upper arm), and which are the most painful (the nostril, upper lip, and penis shaft, eek!).

Now into its 25th year, the ceremony, described by the leading journal Nature as “arguably the highlight of the scientific calendar,” celebrates the scientific achievements that make people laugh, and then think. It might be a silly set of awards, but it would be hard to Ig-nore its contribution to science.


Oh yes, and here’s that dinosaur chicken video we promised you…


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