Last, but not least, there are the Ig Nobel awards. These come with little cash, but much cachet, and reward those research projects that 'first make people laugh, and then make them think'" - Nature
Last night I took part in the Ig Nobel Prizes events at London's Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). As always, it was a sterling event hosted by the Ig Nobel's founder, Marc Abrahams. Here he is organising the timekeepers for the event (each speaker had only five minutes and was prompted to be punctual by a bell ringing once a minute).
The event kicked off with Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe talking about her research into poultry cognition or 'Do hens have friends?'
We then heard from my QI and Museum of Curiosity colleague, Dan Schreiber. Dan talked about research for TV and radio shows and some of the strange pathways it has taken us down, including the search for Shackleton's newspaper advert and the curious world of academic warfare.
Dr Charlotte Burn from the Royal Veterinary College then told us all about her research into canine tail chasing; particularly the problem of us humans finding it endearing when, for many dogs, it may actually be an indicator of a medical of psychological problem. The bottom line is - if your dog does it a lot, talk to a vet.
Final speaker of the night was the never less than entertaining Professor Chris McManus who took us into the wonderful world of scrotal asymmetry. Thankfully without a practical demonstration.
The evening ended, as all Ig Nobels do, with a spirited group reading (led by me) of some wretched poetry. Tonight, as we were surrounded by engineers, it was perfectly fitting for us all to recite William Topaz McGonagall's epic Tay Bridge Disaster, probably the only poem ever to rhyme 'buttresses' with 'confesses'.
A fantastic evening - can't wait for the next one. And the good news for you? You can watch the entire hour (and a bit) long show here. Free!
And if you want to hear some REALLY bad poetry, you can watch this 12 minute long podcast that I did last year: