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Introducing the bra that is meant to be taken off

The Annals of Improbable Research is at it again, making way for Nobel Prize season with its Ig Nobels--ideas that "cannot or should not be repeated." But this year, one of them should.

The gas mask bra is one of the winners at the 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony.
Elena Bodnar

This week the Annals of Improbable Research hosted its 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. As CNET News' Elinor Mills wrote, this year was no less ignoble than the previous 18, with such delightful discoveries as applications for panda poo and observations from a lifetime of knuckle cracking.

Except for one award: the gas mask bra, which, while ridiculous and hilarious at face value, has far more going on below the, er, neckline.

Elena Bodnar, who lives in Chicago, got her start as a scientist in Ukraine, when she witnessed the devastating effects of the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in 1986. She noticed, among other things, that women were wearing bras that may have been lacy but were certainly not life-saving.

At the ceremony, Bodnar demonstrated her invention, which she said could have prevented people from breathing in Iodine-131 in the wake of Chernobyl. She graciously gave pink bras (each of which can turn into two gas masks) to actual Nobel laureates (yes, even the men, who now have the option to enjoy the bras without shame--not to mention any likely real effect--in the privacy of their own homes).

The bra's patent abstract, which also includes an attempt to make "positionable" a word, somehow manages to be as boring as other patent abstracts:

A bra garment comprising: a plurality of detachable cup sections, each of the cup sections having: (a) a filter device; (b) a first portion positionable adjacent to a first central area of a user's chest; (c) a second portion positionable adjacent to a second outer area of the user's chest adjacent to an underarm; and (d) a valve device.

And for all the women out there who are worried about whether their cup size is too big or small to turn into effective gas masks: size, according to Bodnar, doesn't matter.