Just stumbled across this year's winners of the 16th annual Ig Nobel Prizes, organized by the journal Annals of Improbable Research and co-sponsored by Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students and the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association.
"The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology."
Here are the winners in PHYSICS: Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, in Paris, for their insights into why, when you bend dry spaghetti, it often breaks into more than two pieces.
REFERENCE: "Fragmentation of Rods by Cascading Cracks: Why Spaghetti Does Not Break in Half," Basile Audoly and Sebastien Neukirch, Physical Review Letters, vol. 95, no. 9, August 26, 2005, pp. 95505-1 to 95505-1.
REFERENCE: video and other details at <http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/index.html>
NUTRITION: Wasmia Al-Houty of Kuwait University and Faten Al-Mussalam of the Kuwait Environment Public Authority, for showing that dung beetles are finicky eaters.
REFERENCE: "Dung Preference of the Dung Beetle Scarabaeus cristatus Fab (Coleoptera-Scarabaeidae) from Kuwait," Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Musalam, Journal of Arid Environments, vol. 35, no. 3, 1997, pp. 511-6.
BIOLOGY: Bart Knols (of Wageningen Agricultural University, in Wageningen, the Netherlands; and of the National Institute for Medical Research, in Ifakara Centre, Tanzania, and of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna Austria) and Ruurd de Jong (of Wageningen Agricultural University and of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Italy) for showing that the female malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae is attracted equally to the smell of limburger cheese and to the smell of human feet.
REFERENCE: "On Human Odour, Malaria Mosquitoes, and Limburger Cheese," Bart. G.J. Knols, The Lancet, vol. 348 , November 9, 1996, p. 1322.
Apparently actual Nobel Prize Winners often attend this event and help hand out the awards. ( Certain scientists are waaay cool, let's face it. )
( Dung beetle at work, courtesy e-gnu.com)