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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
In praise of apostrophes
A British man who launched a campaign to save the apostrophe has been awarded an IgNobel Prize.

The IgNobels, an annual spoof on the Nobel Prizes, recognise some of the more improbable contributions to research and discovery.

John Richards, a retired journalist, was honoured for his "efforts to protect, promote and defend the differences between plural and possessive".

Mr Richards scours shops and businesses in his home town of Boston, Lincolnshire, in search of missing and misplaced apostrophes.

His newly-formed Apostrophe Protection Society has so far persuaded the local library to remove offending punctuation from its "CD's" sign.

The IgNobels were awarded at a less-than-solemn ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre on Thursday night.

Other research singled out for praise included:

  • Medicine: A paper on injuries due to falling coconuts
  • Physics: Solution to why shower curtains billow inwards
  • Biology: The invention of airtight underpants with a special charcoal filter to remove bad smells
  • Technology: For patenting the wheel in the year 2001 (and the Australian Patent Office for granting the patent)
  • Public Health: A survey of nose picking among adolescents
  • Psychology: An ecological study of glee in small groups of preschool children.
  • Peace: For creating the amusement park known as "Stalin World"
Last year, the peace award went to the Royal Navy for saving live ammunition by making sailors shout "Bang!" on training exercises.

And in 1999, a Bristol University scientist, Len Fisher, won the IgNobel for physics for his technique for dunking a biscuit without making a mess at the bottom of a cup of tea or coffee.

See also:

06 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
In praise of floating frogs
04 Oct 99 | Sci/Tech
Brits take the biscuit
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