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Fruit bat fellatio team crowned Ig Nobel laureate

Whale snot gathering helicopter also honoured

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A crack Sino-British team of scientists last night deservedly secured an Ig Nobel for demonstrating that fellatio in fruit bats prolongs copulation time.

A proud Gareth Jones of Blighty's Bristol Uni was on hand at the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony at Harvard's Sanders Theatre to accept the coveted biology award.

This year's shindig further demonstrated that the UK is at the cutting edge of improbable research by honouring Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse and Agnes Rocha-Gosselin of the Zoological Society of London for "perfecting a method to collect whale snot, using a remote-control helicopter".*

Agreeably, Richard Stephens of Keele University also soaked up some applause as he accepted the peace gong for confirming what Reg readers have known for years - that swearing relieves pain.

This bevy of Brit boffins rubbed shoulders with the planet's unlikely science elite, including NZ's Lianne Parkin, Sheila Williams and Patricia Priest, who walked away with the physics prize for "demonstrating that, on icy footpaths in wintertime, people slip and fall less often if they wear socks on the outside of their shoes".

The biggest props of the night, though, were reserved for Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Ryo Kobayashi and Atsushi Tero, who back in 2008 won an Ig Nobel for proving that slime moulds can solve puzzles, and now have a second for their trophy cabinet for "using slime mold to determine the optimal routes for railroad tracks".

We hasten to add that Britain is not falling behind in vital slime mould research, and our own Dan Bebber and Mark Fricker played a vital role in presenting Rules for Biologically Inspired Adaptive Network Design to an astounded world.

Sadly, the night's celebrations were somewhat dampened by the absence of "the executives and directors of Goldman Sachs, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Magnetar", who didn't turn up to collect the economics Nobel for "creating and promoting new ways to invest money - ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof".

There's more on this year's winners right here. ®

Bootnote

* Credit where credit's due: Diane Gendron of Mexico's Instituto Politecnico Nacional also had a hand in the cetacean mucus harvesting chopper.

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