The Ig Nobel Prize

Photo Credit: The Stinker, the official mascot of the Ig Nobel prize.

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About This Episode

Dive into the strange world of the Ig® Nobel Prize when Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Leighann Lord interview Marc Abrahams, the prize’s founder and the co-founder of “The Annals of Improbable Research.” The prize is awarded for research that first makes you laugh, and then makes you think. You’ll discover the “first scientifically documented case of homosexual necrophilia in the Mallard Duck community.” You’ll explore “whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat,” touching upon cat bites, depression, toxoplasmosis and “crazy cat ladies.” And if that’s not thought provoking enough, you’ll learn about prize-winning teams that have researched Coca Cola as a spermicide, the validity of the “5-Second Rule,” and the forces required to drag sheep across various surfaces. Last but not least, you’ll hear about the televangelists who won for their “discovery” that black holes fulfill the technical requirements to be the location of Hell. (Warning: This episode contains adult subject matter.)

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: The Ig Nobel Prize.

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  • Todd England

    Should have used The Fugs – Coca Cola Douche (aka. CCD) for your bumper music ahead of the segment.

  • Nahuel

    You guys have amazing test of music and the show is amazing. Keep it up! Come back to Boston soon!

  • Joe Carl

    the life cycle of toxoplasmosis gondii involves cats and mice! It has been shown mice infected by toxoplasmosis gondii become unafraid of cats, thus becoming easy targets for cats, helping to complete the parasites life cycle. The thought goes can it infect a human and have a similar loss off inhibition — i.e. crazy? I’m surprised this didn’t come up int he discussion.

  • Timmy

    According to my mom, I am a product of the unreliability of Coca Cola as a spermicide.

    • startalkradio

      Thank you for sharing that, Timmy.

  • plibplob

    dogs peeing and pooing in relation to the earths magnetic field sounds similar to the observed foxes pouncing on hidden prey beneath snow using earths magnetic field with increased success rate as shown in BBC documentary “The Wonder of Animals” episode 5 Foxes. It describes some chemical makeup of their eyes which would help them visualise the magnetic field.

    • Taxil Necrobane

      Seriously? I have been a proud dog owner for the better part of 30 years. And of all the dogs I have had, they did their business in any direction they wanted and it was not always in relation to earth’s magnetic field.

  • David Tedora

    The UK release of ‘Lola’ used ‘Cherry Cola’ instead of ‘Coca Cola’ because of the BBC’s policy on advertising, music trivia fans. Great episode – lovely to hear a longer one.

  • Ken

    ive been listning to this show for so me time now, and today i went into a “what the hell is going on here” mode. When he said the parts with cats and depression. As Neil said, “what is this study all about? is it about people who have cats are more likly to be depressed? or is it depressed people who have cats are more likly to be bit?” Marc did not respond to that, and for me it made me think. What kind of price is this ? Did they think through when they gave this “group” a price for “hacking” into other peoples personal lifes to look up their health journals? was the target to check out depression or was it just to check out the medical journals of peoples with cats? i dont really get it why they got the price at all. In my opinion it juts rude and makes no sence of what they did when the goal of the “mission” is that vage.

    Anyways. Love the show! keep it up, hope for more star talk! i want to know whats out there!

    With hopes and dreams – Norway

  • K Lee

    Good show. Nice fluid tripartite repartee.

  • Count Spockula

    When I was a kid I knew an eccentric old dude we called The Cat Man. He lived in an old trailer, was frail looking, and was often seen wondering through town collecting trash in a bucket. One Thanksgiving my Dad and I went to his trailer to give him a gift basket. When he opened the door his living room was FILLED with cats. I mean, there were cats on furniture, cats on the floor, there were cats crawling THROUGH holes in the couch…
    So yeah, there are crazy cat men too.

  • Jay Hapgood

    Loved this episode! Neil DeGrasse Tyson is rediculously smart, but it’s nice to hear him get knocked down a peg or two by the guest. I really enjoyed his banter with Neil and how he socraticly called Neil out on some of his statements.

  • David

    I’d just like to pointlessly point out that Czechoslovakia has dissolved over 20 years ago. I didn’t expect your guest would mention it twice as if it still existed

  • Sparky DeLong

    Hmmm – never heard of Oxo.

  • Max

    It’s really weird to hear advertisement of ‘non-gmo snack’ on a science-related show :/

    • Samuele Arcidiacono

      I don’t want to open a debate, but let me just mention that the non-GMO movement is not necessarily against GMOs per se.
      It is simply pointing out a lack of research on side effects on humans and the ecosystem in general, i.e. not enough science.

  • Max

    Shame on you, StarTalk radio, and you know it 🙁

  • Jules-Pierre Fournier

    North Bay is 3,5 hours north of Toronto, along the transcanada hwy.

  • Šimon Buryan

    Guys, guys, Jaroslav Fleger (mentioned 25:30) is from Czech Republic, not Czechoslovakia, the former country did split in 1993!

  • Šimon Buryan

    He did it again! 🙂 – 52:30 – there is no such thing as Czechoslovakia. 😀

  • SciGirl

    Fleger is infected with the Toxoplasmosis parasite.

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