Nature | Research Highlights: Social Selection

Ig Nobel prizes provide fun fodder

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In honour of the winners of this year's Ig Nobel Prizes, researchers on social media buzzed about holy images on toast, medical uses for bacon, the slipperiness of banana skins and other offbeat works of science.

The awards, presented by the Annals of Improbable Research, recognize quirky research papers that might otherwise have slipped into obscurity. Not many people were talking about 'Frictional coefficient under banana skin', for example, until it took home the physics prize (Mabuchi, K., Tanaka, K., Uchijima, D. & Sakai, R. Tribol. Online 7, 147–151; 2012). Shortly afterwards, Michael Lerner, a physicist at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, tweeted that the paper “is clearly showing up on one of my exams”. Neil Cronin, a human-locomotion researcher at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, tweeted: “Finding funding for muscle research: difficult. Finding funding for banana skin friction study: easy apparently.” See for more.

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