Michael Smith, left, accepts his trophy from Dudley Herschbach, the 1986 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, while being honored during a performance at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Bee stings, research that makes you go 'huh?' win Ig Nobels Awards
October 02, 2015
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A Cornell University graduate student allowed honeybees to sting him in 25 places.
A trio of linguists found that almost every language uses the word "huh." It is used for clear things up in a conversation.
They are among the winners of this year's Ig Nobels. These are awards. They honor funny scientific success.
Michael Smith estimates he was stung about 200 times. He was stung during his 2012 honeybee study. What are two of the most painful places to get stung? Those would be the nostril and the upper lip.
"A sting to the nostril is so painful. It's like a whole body experience," he said.
Other winners honored Sept. 17 at the 25th annual ceremony at Harvard University.
The winners included a team of researchers. They found that corporate leaders take less professional risk if directly affected by natural disasters as children.
Real Nobel laureates handed out the prizes. Each Ig Nobel winner received a cash award. It is a Zimbabwean 10 trillion-dollar bill. That sounds like a lot but it is not. It is worth about a couple of U.S. dollars.
Smith shared the Ig Nobel for physiology and entomology with Justin Schmidt.
Schmidt is a adjunct professor at the University of Arizona. He came up with a pain scale for insect stings.
His advice is not to get stung by the tarantula hawk. It is a nasty looking wasp. It is found in the Southwestern U.S. The insect has a stinger about a quarter-inch long.
"The sting is entirely nontoxic. But hurts like the bejesus," Schmidt said.
Mark Dingemanse and two colleagues won the Ig Nobel for literature. They work at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. It is in Nijmegen, Netherlands. They found that the word "huh" is used in languages around the world. The languages include some of the most rare.
"A system for fixing misunderstandings is clearly a crucial part of language," he said. "'Huh?' is one element of this system. It is the basic error signal people fall back on if all else fails."
Raghu Rau is a professor of finance at the University of Cambridge. He and his colleagues won for their study on business leaders. They found that those more directly affected by natural disasters as children took less risk during their careers.
Rau uses Apple as an example. The late CEO was Steve Jobs. He lived through a deadly landslide near his home in San Francisco as a child. He ran the company carefully. Tim Cook is now the Apple CEP. He saw few fatalities. That is even after seeing regular tornadoes while growing up in Alabama. Cook has made more risky business choices.
"Think of yourself as a member of a board of directors. When you try to hire a CEO, do you want a risk taker or not?" Rau said.
The winners were thrilled with the honor.
"Sometimes these crazy things provide a lot of insight," said Schmidt, the bug guy.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is the cash award a Zimbabwean 10 trillion-dollar bill?
Write your answers in the comments section below