Scientific studies result in a variety of fascinating discoveries that help humankind understand our world, even making the Earth a better place to live every now and then. Advances in medicine, agriculture, energy, transportation and communications are important, yet humans get distracted quite easily.
A a result, it has to be mentioned that not all experiments and laboratory research is a good idea; some results prove to be totally pointless. Yet, this doesn’t seem funny if you consider the amount of time and money spent to find out answers to ridiculous questions no man has ever thought about. These 10 odd science experiments could easily win the prize for the most useless reasearch ideas ever funded!
10. Studying the Gambling Habits of Monkeys
More than $171,000 was spent studying the gambling habits of monkeys to see if they align with the habits and patterns of human gambling. Researchers wanted to discover if learning about degenerate monkey gamblers would result in greater understanding of free will and provide insight into treatments for gambling addiction in humans.
9. The Daffy World of Duck Genitalia
Researchers performed an in-depth study focusing on the shape of duck penises compared to duck vaginas, discovering that waterfowl phalluses are shaped in a counterclockwise corkscrew while duck vaginas have evolved into a clockwise shape. The study also used high speed cameras to capture male ducks copulating with different shapes of glass tubes while measuring the speed and acceleration of an erect duck penis.
They conclude that due to the overwhelming occurrences of male ducks forcing themselves sexually upon females, duck vaginas have evolved to make it difficult for male coercion to result in fertilization.
8. Penguin Fecal Cannons
Perhaps the winner for the best title of a research paper, “Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh – Calculations on Avian Defecation”, researchers discovered that chinstrap penguins are able to expel crap from their anus at distances of up to 40 centimeters. This study ended up winning the Ig Nobel prize for Fluid Dynamics in 2005, a highly-coveted and slightly facetious award presented by Nobel prize winners at Harvard University.
7. Study Tells Wives to Calm Down
The National Institute for Health funded a study that followed the lives of 82 married couples, focusing on the conflicts that arose between the two parties in the relationship. This government study of a limited sample of married folk discovered that the happiest married couples were the ones in which the wives were able to calm down quickly. Approximately $335,500 was spent on a study that appears to heap the onus of marital happiness on women while disregarding the source of the marital conflict and the fact that it takes two to tango.
6. Extracting Vanilla from Cow Poo
The twelfth Japanese winner of the Ig Nobel prize is Mayu Yamamoto, who utilized a one-hour process of heat and pressure to extract vanillin from cow dung. Animals that eat grass end up creating feces that contains plenty of lignin, which is a chemical that helps produce vanilla and is typically found in plants or trees. Making vanillin from vanilla beans costs twice the amount of making vanillin from poo, and there are undeniable environmental benefits of recycling cow dung into something other than fertilizer.
5. Animals on Treadmills
A variety of studies have taken place that feature various types of animals on treadmills to study how they move. “Shrimp On A Treadmill” was a movie produced by the National Science Foundation. Since that movie, animals such as rats, cows, goats and monkeys have been subjected to the uncomfortable feeling of walking without actually going anywhere. The original tiny shrimp treadmill and experiment cost $560,000.
4. Swedish Massage for Rabbits
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine spent around two years and about $387,000 dollars creating and running a series of experiments to witness the effects of giving New Zealand white rabbits Swedish massages. They wanted to monitor how the massages helped the rabbits recover from injury.
3. Robotic Squirrels Test Rattlesnakes
In order to study the behavior of rattlesnakes, the University of California at Davis and the San Diego State University spent part of a $325,000 grant on the construction of a robot squirrel. This robosquirrel consisted of a taxidermied squirrel that spent time among not-dead peers in order to smell like a living squirrel. Researchers determined that, just like in the wild, rattlesnakes attack squirrels with hot, wagging tails less often.
2. Male Fruit Flies Attracted to Younger Female Fruit Flies
Another in a bizarre series of experiments that involve relationship dynamics between male and female members of the same species, researchers spent almost a million dollars discovering long-held beliefs of male bias towards younger females over older females. In this study, scientists measured how attracted male flies were to female flies, figuring out that men tend to go after the younger female flies rather than the older ones.
1. Rats Like Miles Davis Better on Cocaine
In a study published during 2011 titled, “Music-induced context preference following cocaine conditioning in rats”, researchers subjected rats to doses of cocaine while playing the rats two different types of music: Fur Elise by Beethoven and Four by Miles Davis. The goal of the study, other than wasting money, was to test music stimulus and the musical preference of rats with cocaine acting as a method of conditioning a response from the rodents.