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Science

'Why Banana Skins Are Slippery' Wins IgNobel 127

gbjbaanb writes: This year's Ig Nobel prize was won by Japanese researchers investigating why banana skins produced a frictionless surface compared to apple and orange peels. (Apparently, "The polysaccharide follicular gels that give banana skins their slippery properties are also found in the membranes where our bones meet," so its not all fun and jollity). Other prizes were awarded for noting that dogs only defecate when aligned with north-south magnetic fields, and that "night owl" people are more likely to be psychopaths than early risers. Yes, that probably includes you.
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'Why Banana Skins Are Slippery' Wins IgNobel

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  • by Tukz ( 664339 ) on Friday September 19, 2014 @11:01AM (#47945603) Journal

    "Other prizes were awarded for noting that dogs only defecate when aligned with north-south magnetic fields"

    So when you're lost in a forest, watch which way your dog is pointing when it poops.
    I'm sure I can market "Compass Dogs" as a new thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So what I just understood is that if I line my yard with east-west rows of low chicken wire fencing such that the neighbors' dogs can't face north or south while on my property, they will not poo in my yard.

    BRILLIANT!

  • Bananas vs Grapes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GoJays ( 1793832 ) on Friday September 19, 2014 @11:05AM (#47945665)

    When I was in school I worked at a grocery store for 7 years. I never once saw somebody slip on a banana in the produce department. I did however see many people nearly break their necks slipping on grapes. Those things are slippery when stepped on. But then again, it was rare there was just a peel of a banana on the ground verses a whole banana. Grapes are very slippy, that's why you often see carpets on the ground around them in grocery stores.

    • I think Mythbusters did an experiment that showed that it was VERY difficult to slip on a banana peel. Basically you had to be an idiot.

      Grapes are round, so it is not a surprise that people slip on the rolling grape, rather than slip on a slippery surface.

    • Re:Bananas vs Grapes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bjorniac ( 836863 ) on Friday September 19, 2014 @11:23AM (#47945905)

      The reason that this became a widespread thing is that it was typically used in physical comedy in the early cinema era. Banana skins actually were substituted for horse dung, which is slippery to step in, and this was a much more common occurrence back before cars became ubiquitous. It was considered unseemly to show someone slipping in horse droppings, and would be stopped by the overzealous censors (not to mention offend the sensibilities of the time). The discarded banana skin took on the role as an inoffensive placeholder.

      • Do you.... do you have an onion on your belt?

      • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Friday September 19, 2014 @12:41PM (#47946881)
        The reason it became a widespread thing was that it was actually a widespread thing. In the late 1800s bananas became so popular that coupled with the practice of the day to leave garbage out on urban streets, rotting banana peels were in fact a noted hazard.
        • Re:Bananas vs Grapes (Score:4, Interesting)

          by painandgreed ( 692585 ) on Friday September 19, 2014 @04:17PM (#47949333)

          The reason it became a widespread thing was that it was actually a widespread thing. In the late 1800s bananas became so popular that coupled with the practice of the day to leave garbage out on urban streets, rotting banana peels were in fact a noted hazard.

          In other discussions on bananas, usually on the demise of the Gros Michael banana, I've heard it stated that such incidents were the major driving force behind public trash cans in cities.

      • by xevioso ( 598654 )

        This is interesting, and I hate to ask, but...citation? It's very interesting if true.

        • It was something that stuck in my mind from an explanation from a colleague, (Ph.D in film studies) so I'm not sure of a good citation. The best I can find with a quick Google is an appeal to QI (http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/qi/episodes/8/12/)

    • by santiago ( 42242 )

      Today's bananas are not the slippery bananas of vaudeville yore. The current cultivar of mass-produced banana is the Cavendish, which replaced the earlier Gros Michel when it started succumbing to widespread outbreaks of the Panama Disease fungus. Apart from having a somewhat different flavor and texture, they also have different peels, with the peel of the Gros Michel supposedly being much slipperier. Thus, the joke used to make a lot more sense (even though banana-related accidents were still a ridicul

  • Who the hell do you know is a morning person? That one dude at the office? How many people are awake like, "Ugh, fuck, too early for this shit, coffee..."?

    They say it's DSPD. You won't sleep like a normal person, you stay up late, then you don't get up until 10 or 11. Yeah, right. And normal people enforce a bed time, drag their asses out of bed groggily, then come in and futz around for a few hours until about lunch, and suddenly become active.

    Guess which behavior's normal?

    • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Friday September 19, 2014 @11:15AM (#47945803)
      When I was young I was a night owl, even working the night shift for 4 years. Got a day job that kinda killed that, then in my mid-30s I decided I wanted sunlight when I got off work so I turned into a morning person. I'm up 5-6 AM every day with no alarm.
      • by B5_geek ( 638928 )

        Very similar results with me too, although for me that effect waited until I was 35'ish.

        Plural of anecdote = data?

        • by Rob Riggs ( 6418 )

          Plural of anecdote = data?

          And thus you prove to the world one and for all that all those young whipper snappers really are psychopaths.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Same here. I was a night owl in my youth. Then I got married and had kids. The baby period reconditioned me to the point where I'm up at 3:00AM most days. I'm so tired that by 8:30PM I'm rushing to get the kids tucked in and read to so I can go to bed at 9:00PM and the cycle repeats.

        The good news is that I'm at the SysAdmin job at 5:30AM and have a good three hours with the servers before the rest of the folks arrive. I'm out by 3:00PM, have some day light, and I'm still a psychopath (I'll fix your log

      • I used to be a night-owl (like a 4am to noon sleep pattern), but have been sleeping outdoors for the past 8 months or so. I wake up with the slightest hint of color change in the sky. I feel much more healthy and I don't get tired during the day, even though I sleep less total hours. I would imagine this would be closer to our ancestral patterns.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by PPH ( 736903 )

      And normal people enforce a bed time, drag their asses out of bed groggily, then come in and futz around for a few hours until about lunch,

      I go to bed when I'm tired. And I generally wake up before the alarm clock. I used to start work at 6:00AM and get most of my work done before the lazy shits and psychopathic boss rolled in and wasted the rest of the day bullshitting about sports team scores and betting pools.

      If you push yourself, both physically and mentally, you won't stay up late easily. Its the lazy bastards that are up until all hours. And your need for sleep isn't proportional to your previous day's activities. So you'll still need o

    • Actually, coffee may be part of that.

      Turns out that coffee delays the build up of some chemical that makes you tired... i.e. it makes your body clock run slow, when taken in the morning.

      However, if you take it late at night, before you go to bed, then the level of that chemical goes down more quickly and you'll wake up earlier the next day. Surprisingly it doesn't make it that much harder to go to sleep either, although if you're not already tolerant to coffee, all bets are off on falling asleep promptly.

      Ot

      • Protein. You want protein and fat to wake up. Even if sleep-deprived, whipping up a 3 egg omlette with bacon and sausage will get you back in shape. Massive stacks of flapjacks and biscuits are going to weigh on you and make you sleep (and make you fat, and give you heart disease).
    • Who the hell do you know is a morning person?

      Well, me, for one. Get up between 4:30 and 5:00 AM every morning, walk several miles before breakfast.

      • I've noticed about five people have responded, and some of them have user IDs in the millions. That's a pretty small cross-section; and I've had up to 50 responses to posts on Slashdot in under an hour, when I've really pissed the crowd off with some uncomfortable fact. I'm not taking much stock in the overwhelming rise of the majority rule of morning people here.

        There is some evidence [slashdot.org] that 80% of the population awakens far too early, to detrimental effect on health. The idea has gained some traction s

        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          There is some evidence

          Missing link (not the caveman type).

          that 80% of the population awakens far too early,

          Or goes to bed too late?

          • or goes to bed too late?

            The implication is that humans are genetically predisposed to be awake for a few hours after the sun goes down, and sensitive to daylight. It's the same as tulips opening at night, or mice sleeping during the day. It appears 80% of humans are genetically predisposed to stay up later and wake up later than agrarian society dictates (you have to get up way early to tend crops and milk cows).

        • I'm was late morning person. Most of my life I was self employed so I could work around it. Then I had to get jobs that started at 7: am. My last job required that I get up at 4:00 am but was 4 tens so every weekend I slept in so by Sunday night I couldn't go to sleep until 2:00 am and went to work on two hours sleep. After 15 months of that I had a physical breakdown and after being unable to work for two years was placed on disability. I was 60. I have to take a sleeping medication now or I can only sleep
        • For what it's worth, I don't use an alarm to get up. 4:30 to 5:00 is just when I wake up naturally.

          Once upon a time, many years ago, I drank a lot of coffee and sodas. I had a hard time waking up, and my ideal was to sleep till 11 or so.

          I stopped with the caffeine, and after all the side-effects worked their way through my system, I found that I woke up like switching on a light switch - from fully asleep to fully awake in a second or two....

        • I'm not taking much stock in the overwhelming rise of the majority rule of morning people here

          The original comment, that noone is a morning person, was the sort of comment that will only produce responses that contradict it - why would someone bother with "yeah, I can't get things going before noon either"?

          So, no, the responses saying, in effect, "I am a morning person you ignorant clod" should not be read as saying anything other than "yeah, there are some people who are morning people. Maybe not many,

  • Night owls (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Friday September 19, 2014 @11:12AM (#47945759) Journal

    "night owl" people are more likely to be psychopaths than early risers.

    If you stop waking us up at ungodly hours of the morning, maybe we wouldn't be so stressed out. Did you ever think of that Mr Be-at-work-at-Nine-or-you're-fired?

  • by Jay Maynard ( 54798 ) on Friday September 19, 2014 @11:12AM (#47945761) Homepage

    Chuck Jones, call your office.

  • They forgot this gem:

    Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlíek and Jitka Hanuova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.

  • My favorite research paper of the year:

    "Quantification of Pizza Baking Properties of Different Cheeses, and Their Correlation with Cheese Functionality,"

    Maybe next year.

  • I wouldn't go to that link if I were you. My office system warned me of a malicious exploit there: "A known bad file was blocked from opening." Program: winners[1].htm(Exploit)

    Might be a false alarm .. but then again, maybe not.

  • To paraphrase Feynman, all accurate science is good science because despite how meaningless you may think your findings are, someone in the future may come along and do something wonderful with them. Keep asking 'why'.

    • To paraphrase Feynman, all accurate science is good science because despite how meaningless you may think your findings are, someone in the future may come along and do something wonderful with them. Keep asking 'why'.

      To quote Whitman: That you are here–that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you have to watch this fucking obnoxious iPhone commercial again. That the powerful play goes on and you have to watch this fucking obnoxious iPhone commercial again.

  • Slippery banana peels remind me of a favorite scene from The Wizard of Speed and Time [youtube.com].

  • me as your on the computer at 3am psychopath overlord who has to get up at 7am.

  • and that "night owl" people are more likely to be psychopaths than early risers.

    The same thing we do every night, Pinky ...

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