Frisky fruit bats scoop Ig Nobel prize

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The winners of this year's Ig Nobel awards have been announced, demonstrating once again that the public is much more interested in fornicating fruit bats than cures for cancer.

The awards, presented by the Annals of Improbable Research journal, took place last night in Harvard.

The biology prize went to Gareth Jones at Bristol University and his colleagues, who demonstrated that female short-nosed fruit bats who gave their partners oral sex tended to get more bedroom action afterwards - plus ca change, say we.

The medicine prize was awarded to a team at the University of Amsterdam, whihc found that repeated roller-coaster rides alleviate the symptoms of asthma; a finding that will no doubt increase the incidence of wheezing in hopeful ten-year-olds worldwide.

Meanwhile, Lianne Parkin from the University of Otago must be well-pleased to receive an Ig Nobel for her research demonstrating that people are less likely to slip on ice if they wear their socks outside their shoes. She's not likely to be winning any fashion awards, after all.

And the peace prize goes to Richard Stephens at Keele University, who whacked subjects' thumbs with hammers to demonstrate that swearing relieves pain. Public health went to Manuel Barbeito, for demonstrating that microbes cling to beards.

London's Institute of Zoology walked off with the engineering prize for its creation of a remote-controlled helicopter designed to gather whale snot; and an Oxford University-Japanese team got the transportation prize for using porrige oats and slime mould to model an effective railway network.

And the great and good weren't forgotten: proving that, actually, water and oil can mix won the chemistry prize for MIT's Eric Adams - and BP. Meanwhile, a bunch of bankers from Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and elsewhere hooked the economics prize for finding new ways to invest money that "maximise financial gain and minimise financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof."

Finally, the management prize went to a team at the University of Catania which showed mathematically that companies work more efficiently if staff are promoted at random.

Dunno about the novelty of that one, though - the principle seems to have been applied everywhere I've ever worked...