Each September since 1991, the scientific community have gathered to celebrate the obscure, strange and sometimes just the pure weird. Organised by the Annals of improbable research, the Ig Nobel awards recognizes that while some discoveries may at first appear trivial, you can never quite know where they might one day lead.
Dreaming is a kind of mental state or altered state of consciousness which occurs during sleep. Often, they involve fictitious events that are organized into a loose story. They show that our brains are capable of generating entire worlds that are disconnected, but often draw inspiration from our waking environment. They have fascinated mankind since time immemorial and much has been speculated about their origins and purpose. Early accounts account of dreams from as far as 5000 years in Mesopotamia, set in clay tablets. Like many other things, they also have been subject to the fundamental human need to find a meaning in things that they don’t understand by inventing one. As such many ancient civilisations treated them as a means by which the future and prophesies can be communicated.
Twins, good for minor characters in creepy horror films and known for the special bond that they’re supposed share. But what exactly is the difference between identical and non-identical twins I hear you say. Well, let’s get down to the science.
Your fingerprints are unique. They are yours, and yours alone. They can open doors, unlock your phone, let you into a country, or even just into a theme park. They are your personal identifier. Although there are many uses for fingerprints, perhaps the one which has most captured the public’s imagination is their use in forensic science. After all, how many criminals in stories wouldn’t have been caught without a careless fingerprint left at the scene. Because of this, it is quite fitting that this is also one of its first recorded uses.
Picture the scenario:
You pull up to deserted T-junction in your brand new Mini Cooper. After a cursory glance in each direction, there doesn’t seem to be anything there. But then again, you’ve driven this way hundreds of times and nothings ever there. You slowly ease into the middle of the junction. Suddenly the glint of another car’s windshield enters your peripheral vision. There’s a screech of tortured rubber but it’s too late. Time goes into slow motion as the two vehicles approach at what seems a glacial speed. Everything goes black. When you open your eyes again, the world is full of twisted metal. Your head feels like the morning after a heavy night with Orsen Welles and there’s smoke rising from under the hood. You’re battered and bruised, but alive. What’s the first thing that goes through your head?
Lab coats. That thing you wear when you’re trying to look sciency because there are cameras around or the lab is a bit nippy. However, when you line up for your first of many coffees of the day, the casual observer may see something different. Possibly as a result of all the chemical stains, or maybe because of the splatters of blood, it will probably be assumed you’ve been dumpster diving in the hospital trash and stolen an MDs coat.