The 'Nobel Prizes' of weirdness were just announced. The winners are hilarious.

You may not have heard of the Ig Nobel Prizes, but they're basically the best thing about science.

They're a parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given out once a year. But these awards don't go to the kinds of studies that'll get anyone a meeting with the president or cure space fever. Instead, the prizes are given out to some of the weirdest, strangest, and just plain funniest academic achievements of the past year.

There are prizes in 10 different categories. Here are this year's winners:


1. The effect of polyester pants on rats' sex lives.

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The reproduction category was won by the late Ahmed Shafik, of Egypt, for two studies looking at whether polyester, cotton, and wool trousers affected the sex lives of rats and humans.

2. Assessing the perceived personalities of rocks.

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Are your rocks rugged? Sincere? Excited? These winners of the economics prize can tell you!

3. Why dragonflies love tombstones.

Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images.

Nine scientists won the physics prize together for figuring out why certain dragonflies kept wigging out around polished black tombstones. Turns out the polished grave markers look just like water to the bugs!

The scientists also looked at why white-haired horses were so dang good at shooing away flies.

4. The chemistry prize was given to Volkswagen, for making emissions "disappear."

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The chemistry prize this year was a little dig at Volkswagen, who cheated automobile emissions testing.

5. What happens if you scratch an itch while looking in a mirror?

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Five scientists in Germany revealed that if you have an itch on the left side of your body, you can fix it by looking into a mirror and scratching the right side instead! For that they won the medicine prize.

6. Scientists ask lying liars about lying.

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Scientists asked 1,000 liars about how often and how good they were at lying. Turns out, kids are masters of deception. This won them the psychology prize.

7. "On the Reception of Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit."

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Turns out some people are just bad at detecting what is and what isn't proactive paradigm-shifting phenomena that'll revolutionize your energy flow. Who knew? This was the winner of the peace category.

8.  For two researchers who learned what it means – what it really means – to be a badger and a goat.

Thomas Thwaites at the prize ceremony. Photo by Michael Dwyer/AP.

The biology category was jointly awarded to two men: Charles Foster, who lived as a badger, otter, deer, fox, and a bird; and Thomas Thwaites, who created an entire prosthetic goat-suit ... to live among the goats.

9. For a three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasure of collecting flies.

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Specifically both dead flies and "flies that are not yet dead." This was the literature prize.

10. "For investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs."

Image via iStock.

The perception prize was given for finding out that doing this might make images appear brighter and more distinct. Wow.

These are hilarious, but it's all in good fun.

Photo by Michael Dwyer/AP.

The winners all have a chance to bow out if they don't want to take part. And if they do want to accept their awards, they're invited to Harvard, where they're greeted with an adoring audience, (real) Nobel laureate emcees, prizes, and even an opera.

Marc Abrahams, who started the prizes, said the prizes are unique because it's not about who's the best or the worst or the most important.

"The only thing that matters is that it makes people laugh and then think," Abrahams said.

And there are a couple things we can take away.

Such as just because something is funny doesn't mean it can't still be helpful (imagine using the itchy mirror trick for a kid with chicken pox or in a burn ward). Or maybe these prizes show that science is still a human endeavor, and humans are, in the end, pretty weird, funny little animals ourselves.

But most of all, Abrahams hopes these can be a kind of inkblot test. People so often get told what's good and bad, but these prizes are so off-the-wall, they kind of defy any pat analysis. Abrahams hopes that each person will end up thinking and deciding for themselves which of these are good, silly, stupid, hilarious, or secretly brilliant.

As for me, I think I'm going to change up my wardrobe and then see what this whole badger thing is about.

Heroes

A new Harriet Tubman statue sculpted by Emmy and Academy award-winner Wesley Wofford has been revealed, and its symbolism is moving to say the least.

Harriet Tubman was the best known "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, a network of safe houses that helped thousands of enslaved black Americans make their way to freedom in the north in the early-to-mid 1800s. Tubman herself escaped slavery in 1849, then kept returning to the Underground Railroad, risking her life to help lead others to freedom. She worked as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, and after the war dedicated her life to helping formerly enslaved people try to escape poverty.

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Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
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The Hillary Clinton email scandal was a major right-wing talking point during the 2016 election that aimed to create an air of suspicion around the candidate.

The media played right into it turning Clinton — one of the most qualified candidates to ever run for the office — appear just as unworthy of the presidency as Trump, a vulgar, politically-inexperienced pathological liar.

The controversy surrounded Clinton's use of a private email account in which over 30,000 emails were sent during her time as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. An FBI interrogation found there were 110 confidential emails sent from her private account.

Clinton was never criminally charged, however FBI director James Comey said she was "extremely careless."

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Democracy

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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