How well can a human being digest a shrew when they swallow it whole? Which is the most popular toilet cubicle in an Antarctic Research station? Judged by facial appearance alone do you look more like a Bob or a Tim? And what’s the effect of a mobile phone on a rabbit’s sex life?
These are all topics which have been the subject of serious research resulting in published scientific papers. And they’ve been collected together by Adam’s guest at this week’s Science Café. Marc Abrahams is a man whose mission is to make people laugh… and then make them think.
Boston-based Marc is founder of the magazine and blog The Annals of Improbable Research and of the annual Ig Nobel Prizes. These prestigious awards reward research which has fulfilled the criteria of making people laugh then think. Many of the scientists who are awarded an Ig Nobel are initially surprised to discover that other people think their research is funny but very few of them turn down the prize when they’ve offered it!
Marc is also a columnist for the Guardian newspaper and author of several books on improbable research. He’s in the UK to give a series of talks about improbable research and the Ig Nobel Prizes, including one at the Swansea Science Café on Wednesday 27th March.
Adam’s conversation with Marc covers topics as diverse as what the human digestive system does to a shrew; an analysis of the forces required to drag sheep over various surfaces; the Ig Nobel Prize winner who also won a Nobel Prize; and a very badly behaved duck!
'This is Improbable' by Marc Abrahams. 316pp. Published by OneWorld Publications