Some interesting research studies have changed the world forever – Thomas Edison creating the lightbulb, Pavlov’s dog which taught us about conditioning, and Einstein’s research on relativity are all great examples. Not all research becomes famous and changes the world, but it turns out that some are pretty entertaining. Here are our top 20 most interesting research studies. Buckle up. It’s a rough, but hilarious, ride.
If you give an octopus… ecstasy?
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore were curious about how similar octopus behaviour compared to human behaviour when given MDMA, or ecstasy. Why octopuses? Glad you asked. They have the same serotonin transporter gene that us humans have. When the octopuses were given the ecstasy they were more social, spending increased amounts of time with other octopuses and exploring more physical contact with each other.
Chickens prefer beautiful humans.
A research study was conducted by the Zoology Institution of Stockholm University to see which faces chickens peck at. The results showed that chickens tend to peck at faces that humans also tend to consider beautiful. You could say they are quite pecky… (we couldn’t help ourselves).
Viagra helps jetlag.
Some scientists at the National University of Quilmes discovered that when hamsters were given Viagra, they recovered 50% faster from changes in their normal daily time cycles. Does Viagra help humans with jet lag? Potentially…
Where do bee stings hurt the most?
For this study, one scientist tested where bee stings hurt the most. He tested this by allowing bees to sting him in 25 locations on his body. You will not be shocked to hear that all of the bee stings ‘induced pain in the author,’ but some locations were more painful than others. The least painful were the skull, middle toe tip and upper arm. The most painful were the nostril, the upper lip and the penis shaft.
Roller coasters can dislodge kidney stones.
This study used a silicone model of an adult kidney with kidney stones lodged inside. The researchers placed the kidney stones in various areas in the kidney and tested the kidney stone movements while placed in both the front and back of the roller coaster. After the kidney model went on 60 rides, the researchers found that at the front of the roller coaster, the kidney stones didn’t move too much. But at the back of the roller coaster, the kidney stones dislodged into the ureter 23 out of 36 rides. Does this count as an ‘at home remedy’ if you ever get kidney stones? Well, maybe it’s more of an ‘at amusement park remedy’, but still. This study won the 2018 Ig Nobel Medicine Prize and was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Male turkeys will mate with just about anything.
A group of researchers at Penn State University conducted a study with turkeys to see how minimal the stimuli could be for the turkey to try to mate with it. The researchers conducted the study by continuously removing parts of the turkey until it was only a turkey head left on a stick. Come to find out, the male turkey will still try to mate with it. Oh, the stench of desperation.
Dogs can detect Earth’s magnetic field.
Next time you take your dog for an evening stroll, bring your compass along with you. Researchers have found that when dogs urinate or poop, they naturally align themselves to either the north or south. Other animals such as cows, deer, birds, fish, and whales can detect the Earth’s magnetic field as well.
The one where chickens walk like dinosaurs.
Ever wondered how dinosaurs walked? Well ponder no more. A group of scientists wondered the same thing and discovered that if you attach an artificial tail to a chicken by using a weighted stick similar to a toilet plunge, the weight of the stick will make them walk similar to that of dinosaurs. Anybody have chickens we can test this on… or maybe that’s animal cruelty. Okay, we won’t actually do that, but it sounds hilarious!
Do you have more pee if your body is bigger?
Okay, this one is a bit crude, but it’s pretty interesting. Researchers were curious how long it takes mammals (humans count too!) to empty their bladders. After watching many videos of animals urinating at the Atlanta Zoo, they learned that no matter the size of the mammal, it takes about 21 seconds, plus or minus 13 seconds to empty their bladder.
Swimming in syrup isn’t actually difficult.
In case you ever get the opportunity to swim in syrup, don’t worry because it’s not as difficult as you may think. Scientists tested this by filling a 25-meter swimming pool with gar gum liquid which was twice as thick as water. These scientists at the University of Minnesota found that, yes, you can swim in syrup!
Skrillex makes mosquitoes suck less blood.
Apparently, mosquitoes don’t like Skrillex (an American DJ and musician, by the way). Apparently, a recent study found that mosquitoes sucked less blood and had less sex after they listened to the song ‘Scary Monster and Nice Sprites’. The scientists were curious to see if they could manipulate the behaviour of mosquitoes by playing music rather than using insecticides. It seems it slowed the mosquitoes from sucking blood, so next time you’re sitting outdoors wondering how to get those pesky mosquitoes to go away, you know what to do.
Married couples start to look alike over time.
This one is very strange. Apparently, married couples start to look alike over time. A study was done in the 80s by Robert Zions where participants looked at photographs of single faces. Twenty-four photos were pictures of people when they first got married and twenty-four photos were of the same people 25 years later. The participants were asked to match the photos of the women with the men who looked most like them for the photos 25 years before and after marriage. The participants could match the photos of the couples 25 years after marriage much easier as they had more resemblance.
Sheep recognise each other’s faces.
Researchers at the Babraham Institute wondered if sheep were able to recognise the faces of their sheep mates. They found that sheep can in fact recognise other sheep faces 80% of the time. Not only that, but they could actually recognise the faces of the sheep faces 2 years later too.
Full bladders impair thinking.
Have you ever been around somebody needing to use the toilet and found they had a difficult time thinking straight? Peter Snider from Brown University wanted to test this out. After his study, he found that people who need to urinate very badly do in fact have more cognitive impairment.
The Eiffel Tower seems smaller when you lean to the left.
Okay, let’s try this… Lean a little to the right. And then a little to the left. Hmmm, well it didn’t quite work for us, but maybe it worked for you. In 2012, a group of researchers conducted a study where they found that ‘leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower seem smaller’, but it didn’t have the same effect when they leaned to the right. It seems that when people lean, their perception of size is different. People assume things that are smaller go on the left and bigger things on the right. It is thought that perhaps we are biased since we read from left to right.
Penguin’s projectile poop.
Why do penguin’s have projectile poop? Polar Biology published a paper about this topic. We learned that due to penguin’s gastrointestinal pressure, their poop lands about 40cm away from their body. If you ever get a chance to get close to a penguin, here is your warning. Be careful out there.
London’s sewage waste repurposed for biodiesel.
In 2017, a huge 143-ton blockage was discovered in the London sewers. They called this mound of waste ‘fatberg’ and while completely disgusting, scientists saw a way to use it for good. Scientists found that if the oils and fat were separated from the other waste, it could be used as biodiesel fuel. The water supplier Thames Water confirmed that it could use the diesel fuel from ‘fatberg’ to run 350 London buses for a day. Fancy that!
The colour of pills change perceptions.
One study found out that the colour of pills a person consumes has an affect on how they believe the medication will work. Even if the pill is just a placebo, the colour affects how our brain and body detects it. Red and orange pills are perceived to be a stimulant. Yellow pills are perceived to be an antidepressant, blue pills to be sedatives, and bright coloured pills and/or embossed brand names were perceived to be stronger.
Is it really possible to father 888 children in just 30 years?
History books state that Ismael the Bloodthirsty, the Sharifian Emperor of Morocco, fathered 888 children in 30 years from 1697 to 1727. A group of researchers developed a computer simulation to see if this could really be true. They found that the emperor would have needed to have sex somewhere between 1.43 and 1.63 times per day to have 888 children in 30 years. Whether that is feasible or not, we’ll let you decide that for yourself.
Medieval bunions from a change in fashion.
Researchers have been looking at human remains in Cambridge, UK and found that people buried in the town centre plots, where the wealthier citizens lived, were much more likely to have bunions. They found that a new fashion of pointed shoes led to many more people getting bunions. Beauty is pain and they paid for high fashion in more ways than one.
Well, there you have it – the 20 most interesting pieces of research. Not all research makes the front papers and changes our lives forever, but wow are they entertaining to read!
What are some of the most interesting research studies you’ve discovered? Tell us about them in the comments below.
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