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Life on Mars ?
Rosalind Franklin and the Discovery of Double Helix

Good Bye Dolly
On Stonehenge
The Loss of Columbia
IG Nobel 2002
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West Nile Virus
Asteroid Impact?
Molecule Hunt
Tuxedo Park
Ancient Trade Routes
Pop Singer to Fly In Space
Great Ideas

The Universe in a Nutshell
Copenhagen, the Play
Count of Monte Cristo
Nobel Prize 2001
John Nash
Kernel Methods

Ig-Nobel Prize
Einstein's Brain
Space Turism
Floating City
Mir's Blast
Great Books
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In the mind of:
Serial Killers
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Are we aliens?
Studying ET
Pattern Analysis
Early Vibrators
and Hysteria
among us
Book: Darwin
Book: Russell

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The Darwin Awards
by Wendy Northcutt





Each year, at a gala ceremony in Harvard's Sanders Theatre, ten Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded for "achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced." The Prizes are physically handed to the winners by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates. 1200 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the winners step forward to accept their Prizes.

The ten prizes are given to people who have done remarkably goofy things -- some of them admirable, some perhaps otherwise.
The Igs are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.

Some examples ?

  • Anders Barheim and Hogne Sandvik (Ig Nobel Biology Prize, 1996), who discovered that sour cream stimulates the appetite of leaches, but that beer intoxicates the creatures and garlic often kills them.
  • The 1993 Ig Nobel Literature Prize has been awarded to 976 cowinners who coauthored a paper that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine (vol. 329, no. 10): their paper was remarkable for having 100 times as many authors as pages !!
  • Peter Fong's experiment in which he fed Prozac to clams (Ig Nobel Biology Prize, 1998).
  • Robert Matthews's explication of whether buttered toast always falls on the buttered side (Ig Nobel Physics Prize, 1996).
  • Harold Hillman's report on "The Possible Pain Experienced during Execution by Different Methods" (Ig Nobel Peace Prize, 1997).
  • Airtight Underwear (2001) — Under-Ease, airtight underwear with a charcoal flatulence filter. Buck Weimer, a psychotherapist from Pueblo, Colo., says he was inspired six years ago, after a huge Thanksgiving dinner, when his bedroom got a little gassy. "I don't mind the jokes," Weimer says, but folks like his wife, who suffers from inflammatory bowel syndrome, can really benefit from Under-Ease.
  • Jerald Bain and Kerry Siminoski's examination of "The Relationship among Height, Penile Length, and Foot Size" (Ig Nobel Statistics Prize, 1998).
  • Jacques Benveniste (Ig Nobel Chemistry Prize, 1991 and 1998) and his discoveries that water molecules remember things and that the memories can be transmitted over telephone lines.
  • Louis Kervran (Ig Nobel Physics Prize, 1993) and his discovery that the calcium in chickens' eggshells is created by a process of cold fusion.
  • Shigeru Watanabe, Junko Sakamoto, and Masumi Wakita (Ig Nobel Psychology Prize, 1995) and their achievement in training pigeons to discriminate between the paintings of Picasso and those of Monet.
  • Richard Seed (Ig Nobel Economics Prize, 1997) and his plan to clone himself and other human beings.
  • Intimate Zipper Injuries (1993) Three doctors at a Navy Hospital in San Diego received their Ig Nobel for a 1990 research report, "Acute Management of the Zipper-Entrapped Penis." Unless you've had such an injury, you'll never know the importance of such research. Moreover, our boys in the Navy deserve all the protection we can afford.
  • The Wheel (2001) — Yes the wheel! Last year, John Keogh of Australia patented it. Actually, he patented the "Circular Transportation Device" to demonstrate that, perhaps, there are some problems with patent laws.

The Igs are organized by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), and co-sponsored by: the Harvard Computer Society; the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association; the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students. A book is now available with the best of Improbable Research.

The Best of Annals of Improbable Research
by Abrahams Marc, Marc Abrahams (Editor)

"Science is too human, too much fun, and too important not to laugh at it." The Annals of Improbable Research (and its predecessor, the Journal of Irreproducible Results) has been making fun of science and scientists for... Read more



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