October 11, 2014 12:59 pm

This Sunday: Crazy Cat Ladies, Demented Ducks, Black Holes and Hell

Photo of woman holding cats that relates to the Ig Nobel prize discussion on StarTalk Radio.,

After listening to “The Ig Nobel Prize” on StarTalk Radio, you may never look at these cute, fluffy kittens the same way again.

Have you ever heard of the Ig® Nobel Prize?

I hadn’t until just last week, when we were in the studio with Marc Abrahams, the prize’s founder and the co-founder of The Annals of Improbable Research.

No, it’s not a joke. It’s a real prize for real research handed out by real Nobel prize laureates at a ceremony at Harvard co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students and the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association.

The prize is awarded for research that “first makes you laugh, and then makes you think.”

And that’s exactly what you’ll hear happen this episode to host Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-host Leghann Lord as Marc tells them about some of the most intriguing Ig Nobel prize winners.

After all, how else can you respond to a team that won the Ig Nobel Prize in Chemistry for researching the effectiveness of Coca Cola as a spermicide. And before you dismiss this as merely frivolous, you should know that the research was conducted at Harvard Medical School (along with researchers from other universities) and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

First you laugh, then you think.

Another winner: two teams in four countries for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat. Again, before you dismiss this as ludicrous, I suggest you listen to Marc as he discusses cat bites, depression, and toxoplasmosis. I guarantee you will never look at a “crazy cat lady” the same way again.

First you laugh, then you think.

You’ll hear about a science-based investigation of the “5-Second Rule” which may modify your behavior when it comes to picking up food that has fallen on the ground.

First you laugh, then you think.

Although in this next case, first you groan, then you laugh, then you probably groan again, and then, unfortunately, you can’t stop thinking about it.

It’s the Ig Nobel prize winning, first scientifically documented case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck community.

Let that sink in for a minute. And then think about how much fun you’re going to have listening to Neil and Leighann grapple with that one.

By the way, for those of you who have been requesting that we warn you if there’s any adult content you might not want your kids to hear, consider yourself warned. (Coca Cola as spermicide may be a tough one to explain, but there’s just no good way to explain homosexual mallard duck necrophilia to an 8-year old.)

Not every Ig Nobel prize winner is scientifically sound, of course.

Marc describes a husband and wife team of televangelists who won the award for their discovery that black holes fulfill all of the technical requirements to be the location of Hell. Perhaps it’s not surprising that they decided not to show up to accept their award.

For these and other thought-provoking, laugh-inducing tales of strange science, join us for The Ig Nobel Prize this Sunday, October 12 at 7:00 PM ET on our website, iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn and SoundCloud.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up.

–Jeffrey Simons