The Corner

And the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for Public Health Goes To . . .

Elena Bodnar for her design of a brassiere that, in an emergency, can convert into not one but two gas masks: one for the wearer, and a spare for an onlooker in need.

Bodnar’s subsequent demonstration upon acceptance involved the retrieval of two examples of her invention from under her dress, which were summarily disassembled before the crowd and affixed to several Nobel laureates tapped as volunteers, including 2008 Economics Nobel winner Paul Krugman.

In case you didn’t know, every year, around this time, the Ig Nobel Prize winners are announced. According to this article in Tonic:

With full deference to their mission to recognize “research that makes people laugh and then think,” the 2009 Ig Nobel awards ceremony, broadcast live on the Web from Harvard University’s Sanders Theater, made a place on a stage filled with actual Nobel Laureates for a new crop of folks who, whether having intended it or not, managed to strike just the right blend of serious inquiry with unbridled silliness.

My favorites from the

Veterinary medicine: Dr. Catherine Douglas and Dr. Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, UK, for showing that cows who have names give more milk than cows that are nameless.

Chemistry: Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for creating diamonds from liquid — specifically from tequila.

Physics: Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati, Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard University, and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas for analytically determining why pregnant women don’t tip over.

Mathematics: Gideon Gono, governor of Zimbabwe’s Reserve Bank, for giving people a simple, everyday way to cope with a wide range of numbers — from very small to very big — by having his bank print bank notes with denominations ranging from 1 cent to 1 hundred trillion dollars.

Thanks to Jennifer Zambone for the pointer.

Veronique de Rugy — Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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