Cutting edge studies on artificial dogs' testicles, locusts which watch Star Wars and penguin defaecation have been honoured with Ig Nobel awards.The spoof prizes reward scientific achievements which "cannot, or should not, be reproduced".

Four genuine Nobel prize winners presented the much-coveted awards in a ceremony at Harvard University, US.

A study called Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh - Calculations on Avian Defaecation was honoured with an award.

Authors Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow, of the International University Bremen, and Jozsef Gal, of Lorand Eotvos University in Hungary, were unable to obtain visas to pick up their Fluid Dynamics prize.

"Let's hope it had nothing to do with the explosive nature of our work," Mr Meyer-Rochow said.

The Ig Nobel awards were founded in 1991 by science magazine editor Marc Abrahams to shed light on some of the bizarre projects being embarked upon by researchers across the globe.

"Some of the projects were staggering," said Mr Abrahams. "It made you laugh and then it made you think, and from the beginning that's what this has been about."

Ig Nobel winners

Medicine - Gregg Miller from the US for his invention of Neuticles - rubber replacement testicles for neutered dogs that are available in varying sizes and degrees of firmness. "Considering my parents thought I was an idiot when I was a kid, this is a great honour," said Mr Miller.

Peace - A UK team for their pioneering research into the activity of locusts' brain cells while the insects watched clips from the Star Wars films.

Physics - John Maidstone from Australia for his part in an experiment that began in 1927 in which a glob of black tar drips through a funnel every nine years. Mr Maidstone shared the prize with a late colleague who died sometime after the second drop.

Biology - The University of Adelaide for "painstakingly smelling and cataloguing the peculiar odours produced by 131 different species of frogs when the frogs were feeling stressed".

Chemistry - A University of Minnesota team who set out to prove whether people can swim faster in water or sugar syrup.

Economics - A Massachusetts inventor who designed an alarm clock that runs away and hides when it goes off.

Nutrition - A Japanese researcher who photographed and analysed every meal he had consumed during a period of 34 years.

Literature - The many Nigerians who introduced millions of e-mail users to a "cast of rich characters... each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled".

Agricultural History - A study entitled The Significance of Mr Richard Buckley's Exploding Trousers: Reflections on an Aspect of Technological Change in New Zealand Dairy-Farming between the World Wars.

Fluid Dynamics - Pressures Produced When Penguins Pooh - Calculations on Avian Defaecation.

BBC News