The Ig Nobel Prizes are a parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October — around the time the recipients of the genuine Nobel Prizes are announced — for ten achievements that "first make people laugh, and then make them think." Organized by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), they are presented by a group that includes genuine Nobel Laureates at a ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theater.
The awards are sometimes veiled criticism, as in the two awards given for homeopathy research, prizes in "science education" to Kansas and Colorado state boards of education for their stance regarding the teaching of evolution, and the prize awarded to Social Text after the Sokal Affair. Most often, however, they draw attention to scientific articles that have some humorous or unexpected aspect. Examples range from the discovery that the presence of humans tends to sexually arouse ostriches, to the statement that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements to be the location of Hell, to research on the "five-second rule," a tongue-in-cheek belief that food dropped on the floor won't become contaminated if it is picked up within five seconds.
In Russian, the name is usually translated as "Шнобелевская премия" (Shnobel Prize).
Throwing paper airplanes onto the stage was a long-standing tradition at the Ig Nobels, changed at the 2006 ceremony because of "security concerns." In past years, physics professor Roy Glauber has swept the stage clean of the airplanes as the official "Keeper of the Broom". In 2005, Glauber could not attend the awards as he was traveling to Stockholm to claim a genuine Nobel Prize in Physics.
The "Parade of Ignitaries" brings various supporting groups into the hall. At the 1997 ceremonies, a team of "cryogenic sex researchers" distributed a pamphlet titled "Safe Sex at Four Kelvin". Delegates from the Museum of Bad Art are often on hand to display some pieces from their collection, showing that bad art and bad science go hand in hand.
Actor Russell Johnson, known for his portrayal of The Professor on the TV series Gilligan's Island, once participated in the award presentation ceremony as "The Professor Emeritus of Gilligan's Island".
Two books have been published as of 2006 with write ups on some of the winners: The Ig Nobel Prize (2002, US paperback ISBN 0-452-28573-9, UK paperback ISBN 0-7528-4261-7) and The Ig Nobel Prize 2 (2005, US hardcover ISBN 0-525-94912-7, UK hardcover ISBN 0-7528-6461-0) which was later retitled The Man Who Tried to Clone Himself (ISBN 0-452-28772-3).
Lame ducks make longwinded exits; Retired and defeated lawmakers didn't mince words in crafting their lengthy goodbye speeches, which ran the gamut, from funny to poignant.(NEWS)
Dec 09, 2006; Byline: Margaret Talev Washington, D.C. -- As an era of Republican control of Congress wound down toward adjournment this week,...