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Artificial dog's testicle wins Ig Nobel Prize

Scientific bo**ocks honoured

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Gregg A. Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri has secured this year's Ig Nobel Prize for Medicine for his artificial replacement testicles for dogs - aka "Neuticles" - which are "available in three sizes, and three degrees of firmness". Sadly, the laureat was unable to travel to last night's awards ceremony at Harvard's Sanders Theatre to collect his award in person, but nonetheless made his acceptance speech via videotape.

Yup, it's that time of the year again when boffins at the cutting edge of research are rewarded for pushing back the envelope of scientific endeavour in ten categories. The Peace gong went to Claire Rind and Peter Simmons of the UK's Newcastle University for heroically "electrically monitoring the activity of a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected highlights from the movie Star Wars" (read the fascinating "Orthopteran DCMD Neuron: A Reevaluation of Responses to Moving Objects" right here), while Edward Cussler of the University of Minnesota and Brian Gettelfinger of the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin were crowned chemistry supremos for answering the "longstanding scientific question": can people swim faster in syrup or in water?

We're not entirely sure that Cussler and Gettelfinger shouldn't have actually topped the Fluid Dynamics category, but that particular honour went to Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow of International University Bremen, Germany and the University of Oulu , Finland and Jozsef Gal of Loránd Eötvös University, Hungary, for "using basic principles of physics to calculate the pressure that builds up inside a penguin", as detailed in their report (PDF) entitled "Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh - Calculations on Avian Defaecation."

Readers will have to visit the Ig Nobel prize site themselves to gain an insight as to how "The Significance of Mr. Richard Buckley’s Exploding Trousers: Reflections on an Aspect of Technological Change in New Zealand Dairy-Farming between the World Wars" and "A Survey of Frog Odorous Secretions, Their Possible Functions and Phylogenetic Significance" have redefined the scientific research paradigm, but we'll conclude by noting that Nigerian 419ers have finally got the recognition they so richly deserve with a Literature Ig Nobel Prize for "creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters - General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others - each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them."

Splendid stuff. Full details on the 2005 Ig Nobel winners are available right here. Enjoy. ®

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