‘Universal urination duration’ wins Ig Nobel prize

Sep 23, 2015

Rodrigo Vasquez

By Jonathan Webb

A study showing that nearly all mammals take the same amount of time to urinate has been awarded one of the 2015 Ig Nobel prizes at Harvard University.

These spoof Nobels for “improbable research” are in their 25th year.

The team behind the urination research, from Georgia Tech, won the physics Ig.

Using high-speed video analysis, they modelled the fluid dynamics involved in urination and discovered that all mammals weighing more than 3kg empty their bladders over about 21 seconds.

Their subjects included rats, goats, cows and elephants – and although the findings reveal a remarkably consistent “scaling law” in bigger beasts, they also emphasise that small animals do things quite differently.

Rats can urinate in a fraction of a second, for example. This might make rodents a poor choice for studying urinary health problems.

“We don’t have a proper animal model for urinary system research,” said the study’s lead author Patricia Yang, a PhD student in mechanical engineering.

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