Zany scientists honored in alternative Nobels

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

NEW YORK, September 29, 2011 (AFP) – In the ultimate accolade for the world’s mad scientists, spoof Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday for studies into beetle sex, yawning, the desperation of people dying to urinate, and other daffy investigations. The annual Ig Nobel prizes, now in their 21st year, were given out at Harvard University in front of 1,200 spectators, with real Nobel Prize winners handing out the honors.

To win, scientists must “first make people laugh, and then make them think,” according to the Ig Nobel ethos.

The biology prize — often a good source of humor at the Igs — went to Darryl Gwynne of Canada, Australia and the United States, and David Rentz of Australia, for their ground breaking paper titled: “Beetles on the Bottle: Male Buprestids Mistake Stubbis For Females.”

Which to the layman translates as: beetles tragically attempting to mate with an Australian beer bottle.

Several prizes delved into the extremes of human behavior under stress.

Take, for example, the medicine prize, won by a Dutch-Belgian-Australian team with “Inhibitory spillover,” a probe into the age-old challenge of needing to pee at a busy moment.

The team investigated why “people make better decisions about some kinds of thing