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Strange IgNobel Awards Honor 'Dead' Man, Murphy's Law

IgNobel Awards honor 'dead' man, Murphy's Law

An Indian who was officially dead for 18 years and the scientists who invented Murphy's law were among the winners of this year's IgNobel Prizes.

The awards a spoof on the Nobel Prizes are celebrated annually in Boston to honor achievements that "cannot or should not be reproduced."

They are presented by science humor magazine 'Annals of Improbable Research' and several groups at Harvard and Radcliffe universities.

This year's peace laureate is Lal Bihari, a shopkeeper from Uttar Pradesh in India. Government documents list Bihari, who lives in Azamgarh, 130 miles southeast of Lucknow, as being dead since 1976.

The IgNobel committee awarded him the prize "for a triple accomplishment: First, for leading an active life even though he has been declared legally dead; second, for waging a lively posthumous campaign against bureaucratic inertia and greedy relatives; and third, for creating the Association of Dead People."

He discovered that thousands of other Indians had suffered the same fate. But it was apparently a scam in which officials are bribed to declare landowners dead so their property can be "inherited."

The engineering prize went to three scientists the late Edward A Murphy Jr, the late John Paul Staff and George Nichols for formulating Murphy's Law in 1949.

This law states: "If anything can go wrong, it will."

The economics award went to the people of Liechtenstein. This tiny European nation was cited "for making it possible to rent the entire country for corporate conventions, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and other gatherings."

A team from University College London won the medicine prize. They discovered that the brains of London cabbies are bigger than those of ordinary mortals. Brain scans revealed the black cab drivers have more grey matter than usual in the hippocampus that portion of the brain that deals with navigation as a result of doing "the knowledge."

The physics prize went to a group of Australian scientists for a report entitled "An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces."

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