Man who lived like a Goat honoured

  | James Innes

Man who lived like a Goat honoured

The 26th Ig Nobles – an annual spoof awards for quirky scientific achievement - have just been held at Harvard University. Sponsored by the science humour magazine, Annals of Improbable Research, the awards look to celebrate the wild and wacky achievements in the name of science.

The winners received nearly $10 trillion in cash prizes – although, unfortunately for them, this was in the form of Zimbabwean currency, which is almost worthless. However, fun was very much the order of the day at the ceremony which was attended by four real Nobel laureates and featured a paper airplane race.

This year’s worthy winners included the Swede, Fredrick Sjoberg, who has published 3 volumes about collecting hoverflies on the remote island where he lives. There was also room for a posthumous award to Egyptian professor Ahmed Shafik, for his ground breaking work dressing rats in pants in order to study their sex lives.

Meanwhile, the Brits were determined not to be outdone. Charles Foster, a fellow at Oxford University, spent months mimicking the lives of various animals – a badger, an otter, a fox, a deer and a bird. His subsequent book, “Being a Beast” recounted his experiences, which included living like a badger in a Welsh hole, rummaging through London rubbish bins whilst posing as a fox, and being tracked by bloodhounds through the Scottish countryside whilst learning to live like a deer. “I was hunted down quite quickly”, he said.

Then there was Thomas Thwaite, who, fed up with the stress of everyday life in London, decided to live as a goat - for 3 days - in the Swiss Alps.  He applied for a university grant to study goat psychology, obtained fake prosthetic goat legs from a clinic in Manchester, as well as a fake goat stomach which would digest grass before it reached his real stomach.

Life as a goat though turned out to be harder than he thought. “I suffered quite a lot as a goat, because of the slope. I was constantly falling over, and, of course, I had to eat grass”. “The goats didn’t seem to like me very much; sometimes I thought they were really going to try and attract me”.

Achievements such as this have really raised the bar for next year’s nominees.

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