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This Year’s Most Trivial Scientific Research

Master of Ceremonies Marc Abrahams holds up the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize trophy during a performance at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 18, 2014.

The announcement of this year’s Nobel Prizes is still a couple months off, but the world’s scientific community is already abuzz about the 2014 Ig Nobel prizes, awarded by the satirical science magazine Annals of Improbable Research for the ten most trivial or unusual research papers.

The awards were officially bestowed Thursday, September 18, at a ceremony at Harvard University.

This year’s Ig Nobel prize in physics went to a Japanese team for measuring the friction between a shoe and a banana skin when a person steps on it on the floor.

The biology prize went to a Czech team which documented that dogs prefer to point north-south when they urinate and defecate.

U.S. scientists won the prize in medicine for finding a way to treat nosebleeds by packing the patient’s nose with strips of cured pork.

The Italian government’s National Institute of Statistics won the economics prize for fulfilling the European Union mandate that each member country increase its national economy. It included revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling and other unlawful financial transactions in its calculation.

Italians also captured the Ig Nobel prize in art for measuring the relative pain suffered by people looking at an ugly or a pretty painting, while they are being shot in the hand by a powerful laser beam.

The ceremony was conducted in good spirit, honoring what organizers call “achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think."