NZ Herald/AP: Gas mask bra among Ig Nobel prize winning ideas

The winners of the annual Ig Nobel prize have been announced, and include amongst them the inventor of a bra which can be converted into two gas masks, the finding that naming cows helps them produce more milk, and creating diamonds out of tequila.

The prizes, awarded every year around the same time as the Nobel prizes, are intended as a mirror to their more serious counterpart, with Nobel prize winners handing out the prizes.  The awards are a tribute to research that often seems frivolous, but can also be very practical.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Peter Rowlinson and colleague Catherine Douglas of the University of Newcastle in England won Ig Nobels for showing that Bessie and Buttercup give more milk than cows without names.

“Rowlinson explained that naming cows was just one aspect of their research that showed that when humans are nice to animals, the animals return the affection.

“For their study, they petted, groomed and named one group of heifers and acted neutrally toward another group.

“”Then we followed their performance once they calved the first time and entered the dairy herd, and essentially we found that their behaviour in terms of entry into the parlour was improved, they were less likely to kick when they were first introduced to the milking machine and there was an improvement in milk yield,” of one to two litres.

“Not much for one cow, but it adds up in large herds, Rowlinson said.”