Ig Nobel Prize winners honoured
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
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.