When life gets unbearably stressful, most of us opt for a vacation that relieves us of the worries of day-to-day life.
Thomas Thwaites, a UK-based designer, decided to take that a step further and take a break from being a human entirely. He became a goat — or at least he tried to, through some pretty extreme measures.
And now he has an Ig Nobel Award to show for it. The Ig Nobels, not to be confused with the actual Nobel Prizes, are designed to recognize achievements and studiesthat "first make people laugh then make them think." Thwaites won the biology award alongside Charles Foster, who also lived as a number of different animals.
With the help of a team of researchers and the financial support of London-based biomedical research group Wellcome Trust, Thwaites built himself a suit to achieve goat status and cross the Alps, all of which he chronicled in his book, "GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being a Human."
For Thwaites, the project wasn't just a physical adventure. It was a psychological one, too.
"I started thinking of the project as kind of this investigation into what present-day science and technology could do to help me achieve what I think is this ancient human desire of becoming more like an animal," Thwaites told Business Insider.
Here's what the experiment was like:
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This is Thomas Thwaites. He's a designer. You might know him from his TED Talk about building a toaster from scratch. Last year, he decided that he wanted to take a break from being a human.
At first, Thwaites wanted to try being an elephant. Its size, he thought, would make it easier to transition from a two-legged person to a four-legged animal. But he changed his plan after speaking with a shaman who said that he'd connect better to his environment if he chose to become a goat.
Next, Thwaites went about discovering how to be a goat. He spoke to goat behavioral experts to find out how and what goats think. After finding out that activity in several parts of his brain distinguish him from a goat, he met with a neuroscientist at University College London to try and hack a system for temporarily shutting those parts off, particularly the Broca's area, which is related to speech. To Thwaites' dismay, the technology to turn off a person's ability to understand language isn't there yet. So, Thwaites decided to focus on the physical aspects of becoming a goat.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider