Cows with names give more milk than nameless cows – and other winning research

The  Ig Nobel Prizes were handed out today. These awards are for “achievements that first make people laugh, then make them think”.

There were a few food and drink-related achievements among the winners:

* The winners in the Veterinary Medicine category were Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University (UK). Their research showed that cows who have names give more milk than cows that don’t have names!

* The Peace Prize went to Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern (Switzerland) for determining whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle. (The answer? Empties are sturdier than full bottles, you really don’t want to be hit on the head with either because both can fracture your skull!)

* Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga and Victor M. Castaño of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México won the Chemistry Prize for creating diamonds from liquid. Tequila, to be specific!

* The Biology Prize was awarded to Fumiaki Taguchi, Song Guofu and Zhang Guanglei of Kitasato University Graduate School of Medical Sciences (Japan) for demonstrating that bacteria extracted from panda feces can reduce the amount of kitchen garbage by more than 90%.

As for non-food related research, these were my favourites:

* The Physics Prize went to Katherine K. Whitcome of the University of Cincinnati (USA) Daniel E. Lieberman of Harvard University (USA) and Liza J. Shapiro of the University of Texas (USA) for figuring out why pregnant women don’t tip over.

* Public Health Prize: Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago (USA) for inventing a bra that can be converted into a pair of gas masks in an emergency! One for the original bra wearer, the other for someone in need.

For more information on these and the other winners, visit the Ig Prizes’ website.

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