The craziest science projects get well deserved awards...
The Ig Nobel prizes are to science what the Darwin awards are to evolution except for the fact most Ig Nobel laureates are alive to receive their awards. Or at least are assumed to be, its hard to tell with people involved in some branches of science.
In recent years prizes have gone to:
the inventor of a centrifuge for assisting pregnant women to give birth. This thing spun preprandial mothers so fast their babies were born believing Tony Blair actually was a pretty straight sort of guy. Other than that it is not clear how the device was supposed to assist in the birthing experience;
the team of researchers whose efforts resulted in the publication of a six page specification for making a cup of tea.
This year the Ig Nobel prize for medicine goes to a British scientist whose experiments and observations have proved that swallowing swords can cause sore throats. His surprisingly detailed study reveals medical facts that take it way beyond the "no shit Sherlock," category. For example sword swallowers most likely to suffer from "sword throat" (scientist-type joke there) are beginners, people who try to swallow several swords at once and people who try to swallow curved Cavalry swords.
Coughing can be disastrous for people who have swords shoved down their gullet too and the study cites the case of a sword swallowing belly dancer whose involuntary contraction of the lower abs when a punter reached out and pushed money inside her G-string caused lacerations of the oesophagus.
Other winners this year include the team at the U.S.A.F. Wright Laboratory at Dayton Ohio whose R & D boys developed a chemical weapon that rendered combatants sexually irresistible to the enemy. I guess the idea is the opposing force, when sprayed with the stuff, will be overcome with lust and throw themselves on the allies bayonets (oops, pardon!) My UK based Boggart Blog reported that story back in June.
Another prize that went to a deserving recipient was in the field of linguistics. A Spanish linguistics profesor has carried out a study that reveals rats can sometimes (NOTE: only sometimes) not tell if a human being is speaking Japanese backwards or speaking Dutch backwards.
Serac gnikcuf ydobyna ekil. I wonder if a rat would recognise somebody writing English sarcasm backwards?
You might think all this proves scientists are not all sad acts who need to get out more, that many in fact have a whacky, off the wall sense of humour. If only. Unfortunately there is nothing tongue in cheek about these projects, (except for the sad incident of the sword swallower who severed his tongue), they are carried out in all seriousness and are funded by serious money.
Overall they prove many scientists have a very shaky grip on reality. Once again, no shit Sherlock.