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Ig Nobel prize winner: A bra that offers support AND life support

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What women need are more bras that offer not just support, but life support. A while back I wrote about a sports bra that monitors your heart rate. Now there’s a bra with more immediate life-saving potential.

This bra turns into 2 gas masks. One for you, one for a friend.

Behind this at-first-glance-ridiculous invention is a seriously unpleasant event: the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine, usually described as the worst-ever. Scientist Elena Bodnar, formerly of Ukraine, the new bra’s inventor, says her design could have kept people from breathing in deadly Iodine-131. This radioisotope was a major contributor to the rise in cancer and other health effects among people in the vicinity. (Thanks to Elizabeth Anderson Moore, who blogs at cnet.)

Bodnar was one of the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes. The Ig Nobels are an annual comic-kaze and always one of the highlights of the year in science. The Ig Nobels honor scientific achievements “that first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

The photo shows Bodnar demonstrating her bra to three real Nobel laureates. All are wearing her creation, which comes in pink and black. That’s the high-profile economist and columnist Paul Krugman on the far right–not his usual position.

Another of this year’s Ig Nobel winners is anthropologist Liza Shapiro, who developed a theory about why pregnant women don’t tip over: Women’s back curves are anatomically different from men’s. It’s an evolutionary adaptation to upright posture and the need to carry a fetus out in front instead of underneath.

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