What happens when you gather together a group of scientists and writers about science, ask them to talk for two minutes on a topic they know nothing about and constantly interrupt them with duck quacks?

You get the Ig Nobel’s After Dark event – a preview of the much larger Tour that will turn up next week at Imperial College as part of a national tour.

As I am sure you already know, the Ig Nobels are a spoof of the more sombre Nobel prizes and are awarded to actual scientific papers that “make you laugh, then make you think”.

Being an After Dark event, the topics were of a rather more adult nature than would appear at the main show – which resulted in short discussions on topics as varied as Fellatio By Fruitbats, Penile length to feet size comparisons, rectal massage to stop hiccups and ending with the infamous homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.

Hence also the persistent use of duck quacks throughout the evening as a substitute for a clock timer.

An impressive demonstration of how to remove a bra without taking off your top in a topic about using bras as gas masks was fortunately not followed by a similar display in the subsequent talk on how far a penguin can shoot its poo.

As usual with the Igs, silly topics delivered in silly voices with silly questions from an audience being lubricated by alcohol from the bar.

In other words, perfect science.

Horrifically though, we were all asked to preview an event that will be taking place at the Dundee show – and read out a short except from a poem.

The Tay Bridge Disaster is a poem written in 1880 by the Scottish poet William McGonagall, who has been widely acclaimed as the worst poet in British history, and the full poem will be read by his grave in Dundee next week.

In a desperate attempt to get back to science, it’s worth noting that the Kirkaldy museum of materials testing is in Southwark, and its fame came from the work it did following the Tay Bridge disaster.

Fortunately, Ig Nobel founder, Marc Abrahams declared last night’s event a success and promises more of them in the future.

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