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The Gecko: 10 October, 2003

The Gecko: 10 October, 2003

BBC News recently reported the following:

A "dead man" has been honoured at the annual IgNobels. A spoof on the real

Nobel Prizes, the Igs aim to recognise achievements which "cannot, or should

not, be reproduced".

Lal Bihari of Uttar Pradesh [India] won the "peace prize" for his 18-year

effort to try to prove he is alive and kicking. Some corrupt officials had been bribed

to declare him dead so his property could be "inherited" by others.

Bihari, who lives in Azamgarh, southeast of Lucknow, was listed as deceased in 1976.

He found thousands of other Indians in the same plight and led a "posthumous"

campaign to tackle the issue, even creating the Association of Dead People to press

the authorities into action.

He was invited to pick up his Ig at the awards ceremony at the Sanders Theatre at

Harvard University, US-but it seems his "uncertain" status prevented him

from doing so.

"The Indian Government, which didn't recognize his life, gave him a passport,"

Marc Abrahams, the organiser of the IgNobels, said. "But the American government,

the paragon of efficiency and helpfulness, won't give him a visa.

"You would expect a man who comes back from the dead would get a little extra

help."

The complete list of winners:

* Engineering : To John Paul Stapp, Edward A Murphy, Jr (both posthumous) and George

Nichols giving birth in 1949 to Murphy's Law, the basic engineering principle that

"If anything can go wrong, it will".

* Physics: The Australian team that produced a report on An Analysis Of The Forces

Required To Drag Sheep Over Various Surfaces.

* Psychology: The Italian and US researchers for their report: Politicians' Uniquely

Simple Personalities.

* Chemistry: A Japanese researcher who investigated why a bronze statue in the city

of Kanazawa did not attract pigeons.

* Literature: John Trinkaus for a collection of studies including one that contained

data on the percentage of young people who wore baseball caps with the peak facing

to the rear rather than to the front.

* Economics: Karl Schwarzler and the nation of Liechtenstein for making it possible

to rent the entire country for corporate conventions, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and

other gatherings.

* Interdisciplinary research: A Stockholm University team for its report: Chickens

Prefer Beautiful Humans.

* Biology: C W Moeliker from the Netherlands for documenting the first scientifically

recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.

* Medicine: The University College London team for showing the hippocampus of taxi

drivers is bigger than in the general population.

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