You know how in cartoons there’s always some poor schmuck slipping on a banana peel?
It’s funny, right? But you’ve probably never given the phenomenon much thought. And we’ll bet you never thought it could be the subject of legitimate research.
Scientist Kiyoshi Mabuchi of Japan thought otherwise. He researched whether banana peels are actually as slippery as cartoons depict them to be. His hard work paid off Thursday at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University, where he won a physics award, according to The Associated Press.
“I have gotten … evidence that the friction under banana peels is sufficiently low to make us slip,’’ Mabuchi told the AP in an email. The study was an extension of his research into human joint lubrication system.
The winners of the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize — not to be confused with The actual Nobel Prize –were honored for their “silly sounding scientific discoveries’’ by the “Annals of Improbable Research,’’ a science humor magazine. Ten awards were given out for studies ranging from how to use pork to stop nosebleeds and whether owning a cat depresses you.
The awards are handed out by a panel of real Nobel laureates. The research may not save the world, but some of it seems pretty practical.
For example, Dr. Sonal Saraiya — the nosebleed researcher — found that packing strips of cured pork in the noses of children with uncontrollable, life-threatening nosebleeds can stop hemorrhaging. Though you probably shouldn’t go around sticking pork up your nose every time you get a nosebleed because there’s risk of infection, Saraiya’s study has given a serious solution for those who suffer from the rare clotting condition known as Glanzmann thrombasthenia.
As for the cat study, scientists found that owning a feline may be “hazardous to your health.’’
Dr. David Hanauer, of the department of pediatrics at the University of Michigan and co-author of one of the studies, said “It may simply be that people with depression get cats because they feel depressed. I am in no way telling people to get rid of their cats.’’
So the good news is you don’t have to throw out your cat like day-old litter. And you probably will never slip on a banana peel. Just a couple of things you would never know if not for the Ig Nobel Prize awards.
Stay tuned for the real 2014 Nobel Prizes, which will start being awarded in early October.