Science

Cats might be liquid & vaginal music is booming

By Kitty Knowles 18 September 2017
Summary

Welcome to the brilliant bizarre science awards.

Scientists bravely explore the unknown in the quest for truth.

But the annual Ig Nobel Prize celebrate a specific kind of research: ‘achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think’.

This year the awards, which cover science, medicine, and technology, featured some very unusual experiments indeed.

Among other things, these found that your love of crocodiles might make you gamble, and musical vaginas could be the next big thing.

Oh, and that cats might be liquid.

(But you knew that already).

Our favourite honourees

With 10 prizes awarded to scientists across fields including fluid dynamics, biology and peace, the winner of the physics prize is sure to catch the attention of cat lovers.

Marc-Antoine Fardin of the Université de Lyon took home the award for his paper, On the rheology of cats, in which he asked: “Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?”

The study, which acknowledges that cats appear solid, noted that they also flow to fill different containers, like bowls or sinks.

Sadly Fardin was unable to draw any outright conclusion: “The wetting and general tribology of cats has not progressed enough to give a definitive answer to the capillary dependence of the feline relaxation time,” he writes.

Bangers for baby

Having already introduced you to Bloomlife, the world’s first pregnancy wearable, you’ll already be familiar with the idea that digital devices can help pregnant mums and babies stay healthy.

This year’s Obstetrics prize however, went to a group of researchers with a distinctly musical vibe (Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte).

Their studies show that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played inside a mother’s vagina than outside of the body on the mother’s belly.

It’s with this in mind their Babypod business has been born – a speaker designed to turn the vagina into the best prenatal gig venue ever (for a mere €149.95).

Never smile at a crocodile

It gets even wilder in the world of gambling, with another of our favourite winners taking home the Economics prize for an experiment involving crocodiles (yes, really).

Scientists Matthew Rockloff and Nancy Greer set out to analyse how contact with a live crocodile affects a person’s willingness to bet.

Those who enjoyed holding a crocodile were more likely to gamble recklessly after, while those who felt distressed were more likely to place more reserved bets.

We also learned that playing the didgeridoo could help stop you snoring, and that male ears grow in size at an average rate of 0.22mm a year.

Who doesn’t love brilliantly bizarre science?

See the full list of Ig Nobel prize winners here

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