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Ten Years Ago and Again at AAAS: The Emergency Bra

Monday, February 8th, 2021

Ten years ago, an emergency defense against airborne viruses (and much else) starred in the Improbable Research session at the Annual Meeting of the AAAS (Association for the Advancement of Science), held that year (2011) in Washington, DC. Johnathan Gitlin wrote about it—and took part in the event—for Ars Technica:

At this point, forgetting the adage that the journalist should never become part of the story, your author somehow ended up on stage. To provide some context, in 2009, Dr. Elena Bodnar, a Ukrainian physician, won the Public Health Prize for inventing a bra that can turn into a pair of emergency face masks, one for the wearer of the brassiere and one for a lucky bystander. We had been shown video footage of the 2009 ceremony, with a first amused, then slightly shocked-looking pair of Nobel laureates (Paul Krugman, Economics 2008; Wolfgang Ketterle, Physics, 2001) being used as demonstration models, as Dr. Bodnar removed her invention which she was wearing it at the time, and attached it to their faces. Dr. Bodnar then whipped out another bra, one half of which was then strapped to Orhan Parmuk (Literature, 2006).

As you can see from the photograph above, I helped model Dr. Bodnar’s invention, an example of which had been brought along.

That Prize-winning Brassiere, Then and Now

Here is the video to which he refers. It shows Dr. Bodnar accepting her prize— and giving the first public demonstration of her invention—at the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University.

Dr. Bodnar went on to perfect her design, and formed a company that now sells the invention, under the brand name Emergency Bra, worldwide.

This Year, at the AAAS Annual Meeting

The emergency bra has played a role at pretty much every AAAS Annual Meeting since 2010. The bra mask, and its inventor, will make a new appearance this year, in the Improbable Research session, on Thursday, February 11, from 2:15-3:15 pm, at the 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting, which is all happening online.

Historic video of the Emergency Bra, at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony

Friday, May 1st, 2020

This video shows the awarding of the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for medicine to Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander. Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle, Paul Krugman, and Orhan Pamuk assisted Dr. Bodnar in giving the first public demonstration of how the bra works.

A bra that falls off when you clap your hands (new patent)

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Inventor (and IP / patent lawyer) Michael Mansour Ahmadshahi Ph.D., Esq. has just been granted a US patent for his ‘Signal-activated lingerie’ which incorporates a remotely activated (un)fastener “causing the lingerie to fall off from the wearer’s body” when it receives the appropriate signal. The patent document explains :

“Lingerie, such as bras which are worn by females, have a fastening mechanism, such as a hook-type fastener, which is difficult to open, especially for the male counterpart. A bra according to the present invention could be made using a signal-activated fastener such that the female’s boyfriend or husband could clap his hand and the bra would automatically open.”

As described, the invention may also incorporate voice-recognition technology so that only a previously-authorized operator’s voice will activate it.

Notes:

[1] For those wondering whether the technology could/should also apply to male undergarments – the patent document doesn’t specifically mention them. But it does note that the invention can also be configured to remotely operate belts and trousers.

[2] According to the invention’s website, it’s soon to be launched as a product.

“We are a high-end lingerie company offering specially-designed one-piece lingerie. These lingerie DO NOT use biometrics.

We do, however, have a patented technology which uses biometric signals to unfasten the lingerie remotely. We hope to bring it to you soon! “

[3] The 2009 Ig Nobel Health Prize was awarded to Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander. See U.S. patent 7255627 for a “Garment Device Convertible to One or More Facemasks.”

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

Scientist who uplifted a frog did not support the Chinese brassiere

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

News reports say that Andre Geim (who won an Ig Nobel physics prize for using magnets to levitate a frog, and then won a Nobel physics prize for discovering how to obtain and study the virtually-two-dimensional form of carbon known as “graphene“) — discovered that a Chinese brassiere manufacturer is falsely claiming that he, Andre Geim, endorsed the power of their brassieres.

The Times report begins:

Busted! Makers of miracle bra faked support of Nobel winner Sir Andre Geim

Graphene scientists are used to dealing with exciting claims. The material’s superconductivity could revolutionise electronics and its super-strength could transform aircraft construction. Few industries appear safe from disruption.

Even so Andre Geim, who won a Nobel prize for its discovery, was surprised to hear graphene underwear could renew sexual vigour and enlarge breasts. He was particularly surprised because, when he read about the claims, they were endorsed by one Professor Andre Geim, from the University of Manchester….. Shengquan insists underwear made of graphene boosts breast size and sex lives….

The South China Morning Post carries this headline on its report:

‘I’m not advertising underwear’: UK Nobel laureate in ‘fake claims’ row with Chinese firm

(Thanks to Davide Castelvecchi for bringing this to our attention.)

NOTE: So far as we are aware, the Shengquan bra is not connected in any way with the Emergency Bra (a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.), whose inventor, Elena Bodnar, was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for public health….

Van Der Waals bra (new patent)

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

“[…] brassieres (primarily strapless brassieres and but also those with straps), dresses, swimsuits, socks, tops and other articles of clothing (or the like) have a tendency to fall down or off […]”

– explains a new (Aug 2016) US patent. The novel methodology for holding them up makes use of intermolecular electrostatic attractive forces known as Van Der Waals forces, which are provided by specially constructed silicone patches with microscopic hair-like structures known as setae (analogous to those found on geckos’ feet).

GeckTeck_bra

The invention is assigned to Kellie K apparel LLC, and is currently marketed as GeckTeck™ See: US patent 9,402,424, ‘Brassiere’  awarded to inventor Dr. Anthony Roy of Los Angeles, California. Here he is, along with colleague Dr. Jessica Pfeilsticker who explains the technological aspects of the invention.

Also see: The 2009 Ig Nobel Public Health Prize: Awarded to Dr. Elena N. Bodnar, Raphael C. Lee, and Sandra Marijan of Chicago, Illinois, USA, for inventing a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks, one for the brassiere wearer and one to be given to some needy bystander.

 

Improbable Research