December 22, 2016 9:00 am
Updated: December 22, 2016 9:30 am

Year in review: Wacky and weird science experiments

WATCH: Atlas, the Boston Dynamics robot, is "bullied" by its creators.


Every year, scientists try to continue to unravel the secrets of our universe and find cures to diseases. But sometimes, researchers take a seemingly sideways approach to finding innovative solutions to everyday problems. And from the outside, they may seem a bit odd.

Here are some of 2016’s weird and wacky research experiments.

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Bullying a robot — for science

Scientists at Boston Dynamics (owned by Google) created a robot named Atlas, one of many in their cadre. They’re working towards developing robots that can be used in real-life scenarios. Many of these robots are being developed with the hope that one day they can access areas in natural and human-caused disaster zones where people can’t go.

Engineers “bullied” Atlas to demonstrate its abilities in the face of various obstacles, which can be seen in the video above.

Ticklishness experiment

Neuroscientists from Humboldt University in Berlin studied the phenomenon of ticklishness because they were motivated by the mystery of it, which they now believe could play an important role in social development and cognitive function. They found that rats, much like human children, squeal, laugh and even jump for joy when they’re tickled.

Pee powered urinal

In 2013, researchers at the United Kingdom’s Bristol Robotics Laboratory developed a way to power batteries using urine. A new study in 2016 found a smaller and cheaper alternative, one which has the ability to power up and recharge a smartphone.

They set up pee-powered urinals at the Glastonbury Music Festival for the past couple of years to test their innovations.

5-second rule tested by science

Some might call it common sense to call the “five-second rule” a fallacy, but science proved it this year after researchers tested how much bacteria is transferred to food dropped on the floor and picked up within five seconds.

A 2016 study published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology concluded that bacteria can transfer onto any surface no matter how quickly you pick it up.

Before the study was published, Global BC researched the topic and even then experts were saying that it didn’t matter how quickly you picked up food dropped on the floor.


2016 Ig Nobel awards

The winners at this year’s Ig Nobels included a scientist who put pants on rats to test the effects of different textiles on sex drive, and a researcher who lived like various animals in an attempt to see the world through their eyes.

 with files from the Associated Press and Nicole Mortillaro

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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