Thursday night was the silliest night in scientists' calendars, and with winners including a man who wore prosthetic extensions to live among a herd of goats in the Alps for several days, this year's Ig Nobel awards did not disappoint. In front of a rowdy crowd, real Nobel winners handed out the awards to those who had the year's oddest research. Winners also received $10 trillion—in a single Zimbabwean banknote (US value: less than $1). Some highlights from the annual ceremony at Harvard University, which was presented by the Annals of Improbable Research:
- "Goat man" Tom Thwaites wore his goat legs to the awards ceremony .He tells the BBC that he gained a "goat buddy" during his time in the Alps—but there were some tense moments. "I was just sort of walking around, you know, chewing grass, and just looked up and then suddenly realized that everyone else had stopped chewing and there was this tension which I hadn't kind of noticed before and then one or two of the goats started tossing their horns around and I think I was about to get in a fight," he says. Thwaites shared the biology prize with Charles Foster, another Brit who has spent time living in the wild as, among other things, a badger, an otter, and a fox.
- Science reports that the medicine prize went to a team of neurologists and psychologists, who, with the help of video cameras, mirrors, and volunteers injected with a chemical that causes a mild itch, discovered that scratching the left side of your body will relieve an itch on the right side if you're looking in a mirror at the time.
- A Japanese team won the perception prize with a study published as "Perceived Size and Perceived Distance of Targets Viewed From Between the Legs: Evidence for Proprioceptive Theory." Their research involved bending over and looking at things from between their legs to see if they looked any different.
- Egyptian urologist Ahmed Shafik was posthumously awarded the reproduction prize for his research on how wearing trousers of polyester, cotton, or wool affected the sex lives of rats. The rats that wore polyester had the biggest drop in sexual activity, notes the Guardian.
- This year's Ig Nobel in chemistry went to Volkswagen, for "solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested."
(Previous Ig Nobels have gone to scientists who swallowed parboiled dead shrews
and a researcher who allowed bees to sting every part of his anatomy