Ig No­bel Prize win­ners hon­oured

Otago Daily Times - - The World -

CAM­BRIDGE: Sci­en­tists tak­ing on the deep ques­tions of whether cats are liq­uid or solid, how hold­ing a croc­o­dile in­flu­ences gam­bling and whether play­ing the didgeri­doo can help cure snor­ing were hon­oured yes­ter­day at the Ig No­bel Prize awards.

The brain­child of Marc Abra­hams, edi­tor of the An­nals of

Im­prob­a­ble Re­search, the prizes are in­tended not to hon­our the best or worst in science, but rather to high­light re­search that en­cour­ages peo­ple to think in un­usual ways.

‘‘We hope that this will get peo­ple back into the habits they prob­a­bly had when they were kids, of pay­ing at­ten­tion to odd things and hold­ing out for a mo­ment and de­cid­ing whether they are good or bad only af­ter they have a chance to think,’’ Abra­hams said.

Some of the hon­orees tend to­wards the spu­ri­ous: French re­searcher Marc­An­toine Fardin’s 2014 study ‘‘Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liq­uid?’’ was in­spired by in­ter­net pho­tos of cats tucked into glasses, buck­ets and sinks.

Eco­nomics win­ners Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer con­ducted an ex­per­i­ment that found prob­lem gam­blers were likely to place higher bets af­ter han­dling croc­o­diles, as their brains had mis­in­ter­preted the ex­cite­ment of hold­ing a dan­ger­ous an­i­mal as a sign they were on a lucky streak.

A multi­na­tional team of six re­searchers won the Peace Prize for the 2005 pa­per ‘‘Didgeri­doo Play­ing as Al­ter­na­tive Treat­ment for Ob­struc­tive Sleep Ap­nea Syn­drome’’.

The con­clu­sion the wind in­stru­ment might be of some ben­e­fit was based not its dron­ing tone, but rather that daily prac­tice in­volved much blow­ing, and might strengthen the up­per res­pi­ra­tory tract, mak­ing breath­ing eas­ier. — Reuters

PHOTO: REUTERS

Vic­tory clawed . . . Marc­An­toine Fardin ac­cepts the Ig No­bel prize for Physics for his study ‘‘Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liq­uid’’, at the Ig No­bel Prize Cer­e­mony at Har­vard Univer­sity yes­ter­day.

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