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Other winners include the inventor of the karaoke machine, the man who patented the "comb-over" for covering the head of bald men and a student who investigated the danger of eating food that has fallen on the floor. The 10 winners of the 2004 Ig-Nobel prizes - which celebrate the bizarre, weird, funny and improbable elements of genuine scientific inquiry - received their awards last night at a ceremony at Harvard University in Boston.
Marc Abrahams, who conceived the awards 14 years ago, said that the "Igs" are given to studies or inventions judged to have done most in making people laugh and then think. Mr Abrahams, who publishes the Journal of Improbable Research, said the prizes honour the "whipped cream of humanity", or those thinkers who are either eccentrically brilliant or brilliantly eccentric.
The medicine prize was won by Steven Stack of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and James Gundlach of Auburn University in Alabama, who published an investigation into the effect of country music on suicide. The study found that country music, with its emphasis on marital discord, alcoholism and social alienation, can be linked with an increased suicide rate.
"The results of a multiple regression analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate," the two researchers found.
A Chicago high school student, Jillian Clarke, became the youngest person to win an Ig-Nobel when she won the public health award for investigating the "five-second rule" about whether it is safe to eat food that has dropped on the floor. "We first surveyed 100 people to see if they were familiar with the five-second rule, and if so, have they ever applied it and if they ever applied it what foods would they feel comfortable eating after floor contact," she said. Further work revealed what type of food - sticky or dry - and floor coverings - smooth or rough -were most likely to contaminate dropped food.
The psychology prize went to Daniel Simons of Illinois University and Christopher Chabris of Harvard, who demonstrated that when people paid close attention to one thing they can be made to overlook anything going on nearby, including a man dressed in a gorilla suit.
The Coca-Cola company takes the chemistry prize for using advanced technology to convert liquid from the river Thames into Dasani, the "mineral" water that had to be withdrawn for precautionary reasons
The American Nudist Research Library at Kissimmee in Florida wins the literature prize for preserving a cheeky slice of history so that everyone can enjoy seeing it
The biology prize goes to a team including Robert Batty of Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory in Oban who demonstrated the ability of herrings to communicate by releasing bubbles of gas from their intestines
Inventor of the Karaoke
Daisuke Inoue, of Hyogo in Japan, won the peace prize for inventing the Karaoke sing-along machine which provides an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other
Donald Smith and his late father, Frank, from Florida, win the engineering prize for patenting the "comb-over", the clever technique of covering a bald spot by pulling hair over it from the side of the head, as practised by Bobby Charlton and Neil Kinnock
Read full story at:
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/sci ... ory=567654
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It was actually funnier than that, it was London tap water provided by Thames water. not water from the river Thames. The laughter was so loud it hads to be withdrawn.