September 15, 2017 - 13:08 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods. Now a scientific paper arguing that the feline species may indeed transcend some of the usual physical boundaries has been recognised with one of science’s most sought-after accolades: an Ig Nobel prize, The Guardian says.
The theoretical treatise, entitled On the Rheology of Cats, argues that cats can technically be regarded as simultaneously solid and liquid due to their uncanny ability to adopt the shape of their container.
The annual awards ceremony for research that “first makes you laugh, then makes you think” took place at Harvard University on Thursday, September 15 evening, with three bona fide Nobel laureates, including the British-born economist Oliver Hart, on hand to distribute prizes.
The 10 awards included the peace prize, given to a Swiss team for their discovery that taking up the didgeridoo reduces snoring and the economics prize, which went to an investigation into how contact with a live crocodile affects a person’s willingness to gamble. James Heathcote, a GP from Kent, received the anatomy prize for solving the long-standing mystery of why old men have such big ears (they don’t keep growing, gravity stretches them).
The ceremony also recognised a Swiss team for showing, in a randomised controlled trial, that didgeridoo playing reduces snoring and eases the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnoea. This could be due to the improving effect on tongue muscles and the reduction of “fat pads” in the throat.
Milo Puhan, a professor of public health and epidemiology at the University of Zurich and first author of the work, argues that the didgeridoo is “not worse than any other instrument”.
Puhan said he was honoured to be a recipient, noting that some past Ig Nobel winners have subsequently upgraded to Nobel laureate status. “The president of my university was very excited about it,” he added.
Other recipients include the French neuroscientists who were the first to identify the brain circuits that underpin a hatred for cheese. The brain imaging study, in which people were asked to smell cheddar, goats’ cheese and gruyère while lying in an MRI scanner, pinpointed a region called the basal ganglia as the neural epicentre of cheese disgust.
The Harvard ceremony will also reward the observation by Italian scientists that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart in pictures and the discovery of a female penis and male vagina in a Brazilian cave insect.