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From Verdi to Parboiled Shrews

Like always, the IgNobel Awards this year went to studies that leave you wondering why on earth someone would do that. They are awarded each year by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, and this year's ceremony took place last night.

This year's prize in medicine went to a group from Japan that found that mice survive heart surgery for longer if they listen to a bit of opera during recovery. Typically mice live for seven days following surgery, but if they listened to Verdi's La Traviata, they lived for 27, the Guardian notes, adding that if they listened to Enya, they survived for 11 days. No word on what music would shorten survival times, but we have our suspicions.

In the statistics category, a UK-based group won for their work on predicting when cows will stand up or sit down. "[T]he longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up," their citation says. "And … once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again."

And in archaeology, two researchers from the US and Canada claimed the prize for their work on determining which shrew bones can survive the trip through the human digestive system, by "parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing the shrew without chewing, and then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days." The things people do for science.

Another set of winners confirmed what many of us suspected: Drunk people are not as attractive as they think they are. Settle down, there.

The full list of winners may be found here.