Ig Nobels awarded for zany side of serious science

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New York: Scientists behind studies on brain activity in dead fish and photos of chimpanzee butts were among dozens honored with the tongue-in-cheek Ig Nobel awards Thursday.

The 22nd annual edition of the Nobel prize spoof, held at Boston’s uber-prestigious Harvard University, also distinguished the researchers behind a study proving that “leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower seem smaller.”

The prize, created to reward “research that makes people laugh and then think,” according to the organizers’ website, invites real Nobel laureates to confer honors on serious scientists for work that is generally only unintentionally funny.

This year’s Neuroscience prize, for example, went to an American team “for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.”

A study proved that “leaning to the left makes the Eiffel Tower seem smaller”. © AFP

Other prizes of note: the Fluid Dynamics prize, to a US-Russian-Canadian team “for studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks while carrying a cup of coffee;” and the Anatomy prize to a Dutch-US team “for discovering that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees individually from seeing photographs of their rear ends.”

Companies and governments are also eligible for the prize, and this year’s Peace Prize was awarded to a Russian company “for converting old Russian ammunition into new diamonds.”

The US government, at least its General Accountability Office, was also honored, with the Literature prize “for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.”

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