This year's Ig Nobles winners have been announced, and Dr. Elena Bodnar has won for her bra that converts into a pair of gas masks — one for the wearer, the other for a friend. It sounds silly, but Bodnar, a Ukraine native who now lives in Chicago, started her medical career studying the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster.
If people had had cheap, readily available gas masks in the first hours after the disaster, she said, they may have avoided breathing in iodine-131, which causes radiation sickness.
The bra-turned-gas masks could have also been useful during the 2001 terrorist attacks, and for women caught outside during the dust storms that recently enveloped Sydney, she said.
"You have to be prepared all the time, at any place, at any moment, and practically every woman wears a bra," she said, noting that a bra cup, no matter what size, is the perfect shape to fit over the human mouth and nose.
Her patented devices also look pretty, no different from a conventional bra, she added.