Thursday 8 December 2016

Bleat that - acting the goat earns researcher spoof Nobel award

Published 23/09/2016 | 02:36

Thomas Thwaites, left, accepts the Ig Nobel prize in biology from 2007 economics laureate Eric Maskin at Harvard University (AP)
Thomas Thwaites, left, accepts the Ig Nobel prize in biology from 2007 economics laureate Eric Maskin at Harvard University (AP)

A British man who lived as a goat for three days is among the winners of this year's Ig Nobel prizes for scientific research.

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Thomas Thwaites designed prosthetic limbs that allowed him to walk on all fours and graze with goats on a farm in the Alps.

He published his research in a book entitled GoatMan: How I Took A Holiday From Being Human and his work was recognised at the annual awards, parodying the Nobel Prizes, which are given out for the most unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research.

Mr Thwaites, wearing his prosthetic limbs, said the award was a "huge honour" as he collected the prize at a ceremony at Harvard University in the US.

He said: "I got tired of all the worry and the pain of being a human and so I decided I would take a holiday from it all and become a goat."

Mr Thwaites shared the biology prize with another British author, Charles Foster, who also spent time living as a variety of animals.

His work, Being A Beast, saw him take on the perspective of a badger, an otter, a fox, a red deer and a swift.

Mr Foster, a fellow at the University of Oxford, told the audience: "We have five glorious senses. Normally we use only one of them - vision. It's a very distorting lens because it's linked to our cognition. That means we get only about 20% of the information that we can squeeze out this extraordinary world.

"Animals, by and large, do a good deal better.

"In an attempt to see woods as the really are without that distorting lens of vision and cognition, I tried to follow five non-human species; badgers, foxes, otters, red deer and ridiculously swifts.

"It increased my understanding of what their landscape is really like rather than landscapes coloured by our colonial impressions of what those landscapes should be like.

"It also generated in me a good deal of empathy for these animals and we can do with a little more of that."

Volkswagen also got an honourable mention, winning the chemistry prize for "solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromagnetically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested".

The German car manufacturer was embroiled in a scandal after it emerged millions of its vehicles were fitted with software known as defeat devices to cheat emissions tests.

Press Association

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