Blue eyed cat

Solid or liquid - or both? PICTURE: Pacto Visual/Unsplash.

It's Ig Nobel time when awards are given out for research that "makes people laugh and then [hopefully] think". This year's winners include a study looking at whether a cat can be both a solid and a liquid (Physics Prize), how the regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring (Peace Prize) and a joint Australian-US research project looking at "how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble" (Economics Prize). Others among the 10 winners include a UK study on why old men have big ears (Anatomy Prize) and a joint UK-French project which used advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese (Medicine Prize). The prizes, organised by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research, have been awarded for 27 years.

You may not have read much about it but the country of Belarus is apparently at war with the neighbouring nation of Veyshnoria. Veyshnoria, however, doesn't really exist - it was one of three made up as part of military exercises and had a role which saw it seek to invade Belarus and sow discord between Belarus and Russia. Veyshnoria has apparently captured the attention of Belarusians, however, and taken on a life of its own complete with a flag, history, a satirical Twitter account for its foreign ministry and even, at one stage, its own Wikipedia page.

Amidst the stories of destruction in the wake of Hurricane Irma comes a brighter moment. Photographer Randy Lathrop was on an early morning bike ride in Florida on 11th September when he stumbled across a wooden dugout canoe that had been washed up by the storm. He reportedly contacted the Florida Division of Historical Resources about the find and was told it could be up to several hundred years old. The department is now conducting tests in a "safe place".