Thursday, October 15, 2009

Off Topic: the Ig Nobel Prizes

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a story on another set of awards that is given out at this time every year, the Ig Nobel awards, which, as writer Gary Rotstein notes: "recognize ridiculous research":

The Ig Nobels may sound a tad silly, but there is a kernel of practicality in each, best demonstrated by this year's Public Health Prize. It went to Elena Bodnar of Chicago and partners, for an invention that might have sold like hotcakes -- or at least like a Wonder Bra -- at the Oakland street demonstrations during the G-20 summit.

Ms. Bodnar is a Ukraine native who has studied the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, during which people nearby were sickened by inhaling poisoned air. If only they'd worn brassieres capable of being converted to face masks, so many who were affected could have been protected.

That's the theory, at least, of Ms. Bodnar's U.S. patent No. 7255627, titled a "Garment Device Convertible to One or More Facemasks." During an emergency, her version of a brassiere is capable of becoming a pair of masks used by both the bra wearer and a fortunate bystander of her choosing. Best of all, the bra size doesn't even matter.

"You have to be prepared all the time, at any place, at any moment," she said, sounding just like a Boy Scout, though Boy Scouts don't usually wear bras. (A number of their Scoutmasters might, however.)

I am sure there is a market out there somewhere.

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