THE LIST of 2002 Ig Nobel Prize winners has been announced and, as usual, includes some pretty offbeat research, probably not the type that will attract major research grants or earn an A-rating from the NRF, but enough to make us laugh – and think – which is the real reason behind them, say the organisers.
The prizes were handed out at a gala ceremony on October 3 at that august centre of research and learning, Harvard University. Among the fÃªted research that could not be ignored were:
- a project on the courtship behaviour of ostriches towards humans under farming conditions in Britain (biology award);
- a study of the demonstration of the exponential decay law using (hic) beer froth (physics award);
- a comprehensive survey of human belly button lint (BBL), with notes on the effects of innie and outie belly buttons (interdisciplinary research);
- a four-legged periodic table table (chemistry award);
- a look at the effects of pre-existing inappropriate highlighting on reading comprehension (literature award);
- a computer-based, automatic dog-to-human language translation device, dubbed the Bow-Lingual (this got a peace award);
- an invention for a machine to wash dogs and cats (hygiene award);
- an adaptation for the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world (economics prize);
- an â€œexcruciatingly balancedâ€ study of scrotal asymmetry in man in ancient sculpture (medicine award).
According to researchers in the navel lint study, you're more likely to have BBL if you're male, older, hairy and have an innie.
Their study revealed that there may be a correlation between lots of BBL and top-loading washing machines (which tend to be rough on clothes, like the kind you might find in caravan parks or laundromats). Front-loading machines are thought to produce less BBL.
Let's face it, this is vital information. It might just save you a lot of anxiety when you're next faced with the weighty decision: to load from the top or from the side?
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