Im­prob­a­ble cure

QUEENS­LAND PAIR WINS IGNOBLE AWARD FOR GAM­BLING STUDY

Shepparton News - - WORLDNEWS -

BOS­TON: A study on didgeri­doo heal­ing for chronic snor­ers and an Aussie study that looked at how cud­dling a croc can in­flu­ence gam­bling have won in­ter­na­tional prizes for im­prob­a­ble re­search.

And while they sound silly, the re­searchers be­hind the stud­ies say they’ve made le­git­i­mate strides in the name of science.

The an­nual Ig No­bel Prizes hon­our re­search achieve­ments that first make peo­ple laugh, but then think.

Pro­fes­sor Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer from Cen­tral Queens­land Univer­sity ticked all the boxes with their 2010 study, which looked at how peo­ple’s gam­bling habits can be inf lu­enced by a cud­dle with a croc­o­dile.

The pair won the Eco­nomics Prize af­ter study­ing how 103 prob­lem and non­prob­lem gam­blers be­haved af­ter han­dling a one-me­tre croc and then jump­ing on a sim­u­lated pok­ies ma­chine.

They found prob­lem gam­blers were likely to place higher bets af­ter han­dling the rep­tile be­cause their brains mis­in­ter­preted the ex­cite­ment of hold­ing a danger­ous an­i­mal as a sign they were on a ‘lucky’ streak.

The study es­tab­lished, for the first time, that there was a link be­tween some­one’s emo­tional state and how they gam­bled.

‘‘The croc­o­dile study was re­ally about try­ing to get a sneaky way of arous­ing peo­ple be­fore they gam­bled so they wouldn’t recog­nise their own emo­tional state, that they’re phys­i­o­log­i­cally aroused,’’ Prof Rockloff told ABC ra­dio.

Another study, in­volv­ing six re­searchers from around the world, won the Peace Prize af­ter look­ing at whether play­ing the didgeri­doo could be a vi­able al­ter­na­tive treat­ment for ob­struc­tive sleep ap­noea syn­drome.

Peo­ple with this con­di­tion breath shal­lowly — and can stop breath­ing al­to­gether for short pe­ri­ods — when they are asleep, and chronic snor­ing is one symp­tom.

The study con­cluded the didgeri­doo might be of some ben­e­fit to suf­fer­ers — but not be­cause of its dron­ing tone.

Rather re­searchers con­cluded that daily prac­tise — which in­volves a lot of blow­ing — could strengthen the up­per res­pi­ra­tory tract, mak­ing breath­ing eas­ier.

The awards, now in their 27th year, are handed out by ac­tual No­bel Prize win­ners at Har­vard Univer­sity. They are the brain­child of Marc Abra­hams, editor of the An­nals of Im­prob­a­ble Re­search.

Pic­ture: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Who knew: Re­searchers Alex Suarez, Chris­tian Lo Cas­cio, Markus Heitz and Milo Puhan re­ceive their Ig No­bel Peace Prize from No­bel lau­re­ate Oliver Hart at Har­vard Univer­sity in Cam­bridge, Mas­sachusetts in the United States. The team won for demon­strat­ing that play­ing the didgeri­doo is an ef­fec­tive treat­ment for snor­ing.

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