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Real? Yes. Groundbreaking? Probably Not. Hilarious? You betcha. Here are the recipients of five of the most memorable so-called Ig Nobel awards of recent times. (Humor required.)
These awards, administered by the Annals of Improbable Research, a science humor magazine that covers real experiments and studies, are celebrated annually at a ceremony at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Winning is considered by some, if not most, of the recipients to be “a dubious distinction.”
1. A study describing a method for collecting whale mucous by using a remote-control helicopter. ‘Snot easy, but somebody’s got to monitor pathogens dangerous to cetacean health. (Won by a team of British and Mexican scientists.)
2. The discovery that roller-coaster riding can be a treatment for symptoms of asthma. Trouble breathing? Try dropping 208 feet at 73mph, or read the abstract here. (Won by two psychologists from the Netherlands.)
3. A study demonstrating that people slip and fall less often on ice when they wear their socks on the outside of their shoes. Make sure you’ve got your socks on when you read this abstract, or you might fall flat on your face from laughter at the though of people actually doing this. (Won by three researchers from New Zealand.)
4. A study showing that cows with names give more milk than nameless bovines. Thanks, Bessie! (Won by two British researchers.)
5. The invention of a brassiere that in an emergency can be quickly converted into two protective face masks—one for the wearer and one for a bystander. (Won by three American public health scientists, who were also granted a patent for the device.) You can buy your own here for your upcoming family vacation to Chernobyl, which is where the inventor got the idea.(Won by three American public health scientists, who were also granted a patent for the device.)
A FINALTHOUGHT How is it that we put a man on the Moon before we figured out that it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?