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The word 'huh' exists in every spoken language on Earth

Laugh first, and then think. Freakshow of science, the 'Ig Nobel Prize' pays Copenhagen yet another visit

The time has come again to reward the obscurities of science. Every year Harvard awards feats of improbable research done by researchers, who go through ludicrous measures and thought processes to produce science that sounds ridiculous, but might turn out to be important. How to intricately pick up whale-snot using a remote-controlled helicopter is just one of the examples.

The premise of the award show is to laugh first and think afterwards. So if you like doing both, Thursday 10 March is when the Ig Nobel Prize 2016 European tour will be hosted by the University of Copenhagen (UCPH). The founding father of the ordeal, Marc Abrahams will present the most recent winners of the award. One of them is Mark Dingemanse, who has discovered that the word ‘huh’ exists in every spoken language on Earth.

”People ask each other for clarification on average every 90 seconds. Understanding how this works means understanding how people cooperate,” says Dingemanse to the University Post, ”the word ‘huh’ “is only one of the ways in which we mend broken conversations but it is the most universal one. It turns out this word sounds roughly the same in all spoken languages investigated so far! So in the course of our work on human communication, we stumbled upon the most unexpected thing – a universal word.”

888 successors and most painful places to be stung by a bee

Other winners include anthropologist Dr. Elisabeth Oberzaucher, who has used mathematical methods to unveil whether or not the Moroccan sultan, Moulay Ismael, is indeed the father of 888 successors.

Michael L. Smith is also one of the award recipients. He let himself get stung in 25 different places on his body by bees, to see where it hurts the most. And yes, he did try it there.

Previous winners of the award include Francis M. Fesmire of the University of Tennessee, who discovered how to cure persistent hiccups using rectal massage. The British Royal Navy has also been among the winners. Due to government budget cuts it ordered its sailors to stop using live cannon shells and just shout ‘bang!’ instead.

Get your tickets to Ig Nobel Prize 2016 here.

universitypost@adm.ku.dk

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