China snagged the Physics Prize, by establishing that banana peels really are quite slippery. Few had delved into the banana peel question since the pioneer researchers in the field, the Three Stooges, went to that Big Physics Lab in the Sky. Rumor has it the Chinese are also exploring how to avoid a double eye-poke by holding one's hand parallel to the length of one's nose, and how to use fellow sleepers' faces as steps when ascending a three-tiered bunk bed.
Italy was awarded the Art prize. Three of its top researchers spent the year shooting people with powerful lasers while they were looking at paintings. The actual point of the project was lost on me, but it had to be fun.
The Czech Republic proved it was no slouch in the science field by demonstrating that dogs align themselves with the earth's magnetic field when they defecate. You thought your dog was just trying to make you late for work with all that turning and sniffing before getting the job done. No, Spot is just making himself right with the planet's magnetic field. Obviously, other powerful sources of electromagnetism can interfere with Fido's perception of the planetary magnetosphere, so when you hear someone shouting "WOULD YOU TURN OFF THAT GODDAMN GIANT SCREEN TV? MY DOG IS TRYING TO POOP!" you are not dealing with a random, aluminum-foil hat wearing crazy but with someone who is admirably abreast of the latest in scientific thought.
China had to team up with Canada to win the Neuroscience Prize, which was an effort to understand why people insist on seeing images of Jesus in pieces of toast instead of just gobbling down their buttery goodness with jam. For those of you interested in doing supplementary research on this subject, I recommend the Shroud o' Turin Toaster Oven, available on this web site.
The USA and India cooperated to prove you could stop nosebleeds by packing your nostrils with bacon. Try it. It works.
Spain snagged the nutrition prize by adding baby poo to sausage, figuring that baby intestinal bacteria would make the sausage nice and probiotic. I suppose they deserve the kudos, but I am proud to note that this column has been concerned with interesting medical uses for human waste since the dawn of the fecal transplant era. Successes in the field led me to being the first to point out that when you tell some a-hole who has cut you off in traffic to "Eat sh*t!" you are in fact giving him sound medical advice. Adding diaper droppings to sausage may prove to be a valuable medical as well as culinary advance, especially if no one bothers to read really far down on the ingredients list.
Finally, the English-speaking world (the US, the UK and Australia) united to prove that:
"People who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning."
This explains a lot to me, as an early riser. It explains why I am always the one walking the dog and emptying out the dishwasher. My Significant Other is a chronic stay-up-later, meaning, like many other people's mates, that she is a manipulative psychopath who hogs the mirror.
I already knew that about her, but, hey, you're never going to be in love with somebody perfect.