What kinds of bacteria live on wads of old chewing gum?

By Don Rush

I cannot believe I forgot to share this year’s Ig Nobel awards with you. Oh, wait. You don’t remember or don’t know what an Ig Nobel Award is? Let’s catch you up to speed.
Here’s from their website, “The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.
“The Ceremony: Every September, in a gala ceremony in Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, 1,100 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the new winners step forward to accept their Prizes . . .
“ . . . The 31st First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony happened on Thursday, September 9, 2021.”
Marc Abrahams founded the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony in 1991, and serves as master of ceremonies. “The prizes are handed out by genuine, bemused Nobel laureates in a gala event held every year at Harvard University, and broadcast on the web and on public radio.”
I first ran across the Marc and the Ig Nobels sometime back in the 1990s and if I remember correctly I wrote something about long, luxurious locks. (Since I have no motivation to look it up, let’s just say I wrote about long hair — again!) At any rate, with all the anger in the world, folks not liking how I raised my kids and general angst about town, I figured it was time to lighten up.
Now, before we get too far in, remember that this is an exercise in humor. Please take off your rational, fiscally responsible pants and don some cargo shorts and flip-flops before reading. We don’t want you thinking, “Why in the wide world of sports are they spending good, old-fashioned, hard-earned taxpayer dollars on this crap when they can be trying to figure out how to better milk goats or something useful like that.” Exorcise that thought from your consciousness . . . Breathe deep . . . Ok . . .
So, without further eloquence I give you the winners from the 2021 (and please smile).
In Biology the prize went to Swedish scientists Susanne Schötz, Robert Eklund, and Joost van de Weijer, for analyzing variations in purring, chirping, chattering, trilling, tweedling, murmuring, meowing, moaning, squeaking, hissing, yowling, howling, growling, and other modes of cat–human communication.
In Ecology the prize went to scientists from Spain and Iran. Leila Satari, Alba Guillén, Àngela Vidal-Verdú, and Manuel Porcar,used genetic analysis to identify the different species of bacteria that reside in wads of discarded chewing gum stuck on pavements in various countries.
(Okay, no more scientist names since I cannot pronounce them.)
The Chemistry prize was awarded for chemically analyzing the air inside movie theaters, to test whether the odors produced by an audience reliably indicate the levels of violence, sex, antisocial behavior, drug use, and bad language in the movie the audience is watching. The scientists who wasted time and money on this were from Germany, Uk, New Zealand, Greece, Cyprus and Austria.
The prize for Economics went to scientists from France, Switzerland, Australia, Austria, Czech Republic and the UK. They discovered that the obesity of a country’s politicians may be a good indicator of that country’s corruption.
In Medicine, Olcay Cem Bulut, Dare Oladokun, Burkard Lippert, and Ralph Hohenberger, won for demonstrating that sexual orgasms can be as effective as decongestant medicines at improving nasal breathing.
From the good ol’ USA, Ethan Beseris, Steven Naleway, and David Carrier, won the Peace Ig Nobel Prize for testing the hypothesis that humans evolved beards to protect themselves from punches to the face.
The Physics Prize was for conducting experiments to learn why pedestrians do not constantly collide with other pedestrians. And . . .
. . . The Kinetics Prize was awarded for conducting experiments to learn why pedestrians do sometimes collide with other pedestrians.
The USA took home another award, the Entomology Prize for their research study “A New Method of Cockroach Control on Submarines.”
The last award for the night, the Transportation Prize, was for determining by experiment whether it is safer to transport an airborne rhinoceros upside-down (because we all want to know the answer to that question!)
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There, did that make you feel better? If only for a few minutes?
Send your comments to DontRushDon@gmail.com

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