What’s the most useless thing you can think of? The stereotypical chocolate teapot? Katie Price? Parliament? How about a research project into whether named cows produce more milk than unnamed cows, or whether it’s better to be bashed about the head with an empty glass bottle or a full one?
This week saw the unveiling of the winners of the not-particularly highly coveted Ig-Nobel prize, the scientific award ceremony that honours discoveries which make people laugh first and think second, like when a former sexual partner informs you they’ve got chlamydia.
Anyway, there were multiple recipients of these most absurd of scientific awards. The Ig-Noble prize for Physics went to Katherine Whitcome of the University of Texas for determining why pregnant women do not tip over, which gave me an idea for a new game – it’s similar to cow tipping but… actually nevermind.
Californian Donald Unger won the Ig-Nobel prize for Medicine after spending 60 years cracking the knuckles of his left hand, but not his right hand, in order to determine whether knuckle-cracking causes arthritis. It doesn’t, so feel free to get your crack on – though I warn you that apparently it is quite moreish (Peep Show reference go!).
By far the most bizarre winner of this year, however, was Elena Bodner of Chicago (anybody noticing a trend here?) for inventing a bra that can be converted into a gas-mask during an emergency. The category this Ig-Nobel nominee was included in was named Public Health, which I have the distinct suspicion they may have entirely made up the night before. On the other hand, I suppose this invention may come in useful in the bedroom if you have a particularly flatulent partner, if used alongside a pair of socks that can be converted into earplugs.
You may think I’m being slightly cynical about all this, and I must admit that the existence of such an award ceremony (in its nineteenth year, I might add) does make me wonder about the steady decline of the human race as we all wander around wearing air-conditioned underpants and shoes that turn into cutlery while the world slowly microwaves itself like a massive baked potato and incurable cancers eat the internal organs of hundreds of people on a daily basis. Then again, what’s the point of living if you can’t have the odd ludicrously pointless and inordinately expensive giggle now and again?