Improbable Reserach – Slipperiness of Banana Peel

slip banana

How painful is it to look at an ugly painting? How does a reindeer react when he sees a human wearing a polar bear suit? And how slippery is banana peel?

The Ig Nobel Prize is rewarded for unusual or wacky scientific research projects. This reward is the comical counterpart to the prestigious Nobel Prize, which is awarded by the Swedish and Norwegian Nobel committees in recognition of high achievements.

The underlying criteria for winning the Ig Nobel Prize is that the research should make people laugh and then think. Raising people’s curiosity is important and many of the prize winners inspire you to think about what is important both in science and in life.

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but, ‘That’s funny…” Isaac Asimov

The Ig organisation publish a magazine – Annals of  Improbably Research.

Among the prize winners this year was.

  • A team of Japanese scientists earned the Ig Nobel prize in Physics for their paper titled “Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin” – the hazards of stepping on a banana peel.
  • A team of Norwegian and German researchers tested how reindeer react to seeing humans wearing polar bear costumes and won the Arctic Science prize. The researchers found that the reindeer run away  more than twice the distance when they saw the man in a polar bear suit.
  • The Art Prize was awarded to an Italian team who measured the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting.
  • Researchers looking at how dogs defecate and urinate picked up the Biology Prize  and if you have a dog you can check and see if he or she align the body axis with Earth’s north-south geomagnetic field lines.
  • Are you staying up late at night? Well, according to the winners of the Psychology Prize, you may be  more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.

And yes, this blog post was written by someone who habitually arise early in the morning. . . with the help of my dog. . .

What funny ideas for research do you have? What improbable hypothesis do you like to test? And how would you test the idea?

Crazy and wild ideas are encouraged!

I want to test if the slipperiness of banana peel is affected by the height of the heel. The hypothesis is that high heels makes the banana peel less slippery since you may pierce a hole in the banana peel. . .  Men and women could be tested wearing shoes with different heel heights. . . And what do people feel when they found out that their leather jacket is made out of fermented tea, kombucha? A quick raise in the heart rate followed by sweaty palms is predicted.

We wrote a blog post about last years winners. Go here to read the Thinkibility Nibble Walking on Water.

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