Page last updated at 23:52 GMT, Thursday, 1 October 2009 00:52 UK

Gas mask bra traps Ig Nobel prize

By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

Sketch of gas mask bra
The bra converts into a mask for the wearer and one for a needy bystander

Designers of a bra that turns into gas masks and a team who found that named cows produce more milk were among the winners of the 2009 Ig Nobel prizes.

The aim of the awards is to honour achievements that "first make people laugh and then make them think".

The peace prize went to a Swiss research team who determined whether it is better to be hit over the head with a full or empty bottle of beer.

The ceremony was organised by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research.

Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson from the agriculture, food and rural development department of Newcastle University were the only UK recipients.

Cathernie Douglas and baby Flora
Catherine Douglas was "thrilled" with her award

Dr Douglas, who was unable to attend the ceremony held at Harvard University in Cambridge, US, told BBC News that she was "thrilled" to have been selected and was a "big fan of the Ig Nobel awards".

She said that discovering cows with names were more prolific milk-producers emerged during research into improving dairy cow welfare.

The overall aim of the study was to reduce stress and fear by improving "the human-animal relationship".

"[This research] showed that the majority of UK dairy farmers are caring individuals who