Just Because You Can… (Part 1)

…does not mean one actually should. However…

While the Chaps are always appreciative of Great Leaps Forward, they also appreciate Great Leaps Sideways, or in some cases Great Standings Still. So it is with a sigh of relief from the other, more depressing technological high-jinks around at present that the Chaps greet the newest Ig Nobel Prizes. Or, as they style themselves, research that could not, and probably should not, be repeated.

There is also a Journal of Irreproducible Results–

but such things seems to have gone worryingly mainstream of late.

Where were we? Oh yes, the Ig Nobels, associated with the Annals of Improbable Research.

The annual awards ceremony for research that “first makes you laugh, then makes you think” took place at Harvard University… 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 winner, with a sideways glance no doubt at the existence or non-existence of Schrodinger’s Cat —

— posited the suggestion that cats may be considered to be at any time in one of two states — solid or liquid.

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. “If you take a timelapse of a glacier on several years you will unmistakably see it flow down the mountain,” he said. “For cats, the same principle holds. If you are observing a cat on a time larger than its relaxation time, it will be soft and adapt to its container, like a liquid would.”

An argument not easily disputed, nor easily forgotten.

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.

And with that the Chaps can say with a degree of certainty that this probably fulfills our obligatory quota of cute cat pictures.

At least for a while.