Improbable research is research that makes people laugh and then think.

Improbable Research is the name of our organization. We collect (and sometimes conduct) improbable research. We publish a magazine called the Annals of Improbable Research, and we administer the Ig Nobel Prizes.

Things We Do

Our publications and activities include:

Why We Do It

Our goal is to make people laugh, then make them think. We also hope to spur people's curiosity, and to raise the question: How do you decide what's important and what's not, and what's real and what's not — in science and everywhere else?

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but, 'That's funny..." Isaac Asimov

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." Sherlock Holmes

The Magazine

The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) is a six-issues-a-year magazine published in e-book form, and also (still!) published on genuine paper. It's packed with genuine, improbable research culled from more than 20,000 science, medical, technical and academic journals. We also publish original research, and some concoctions.

Here are some classic articles. Every issue includes our Teachers Guide. If you'd like to submit an article or a letter for publication, please do.

The Ig Nobel Prizes

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people laugh, and then make them think. The winners come to a gala ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre, and then give public lectures at MIT.

Who We Are

Staff: Our staff is tiny: Editor Marc Abrahams, European Bureau Chief Kees Moeliker, General Manager David Kessler, Improbable Facilitator Katherine Griffin, and other improbable individuals. Mostly, Improbable Research is a vast, happy, open conspiracy of many volunteers (scientists, journalists, teachers, students, and all sorts of other people) in many countries.

Editorial Board: Our editorial board consists of fifty-odd eminent scientists, doctors, etc. from aroundthe world, including several Nobel Prize winners and a convicted felon.

Improbable Research is produced by the people who founded and organize the annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. (We are also the very same people who from 1955-1994 founded and edited the Journal of Irreproducible Results. In 1994, when the Journal's publisher decided to abandon the magazine, we decided to abandon that publisher. Unable to get use of the old name, we started a brand new publication — the Annals of Improbable Research. And yes, we are AIRheads.)

Offices: Improbable Research is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. In 2006 the Improbable Research European Bureau opened in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Phil Campbell debates Fiona Barclay
VIDEO: Watch an Improbable show in London (click on the picture). The image here shows Nature editor-in-chief Philip Campbell and chemist Fiona Barclay going finger-to-nose during the Great Inertia Debate, a featured (though brief) part of the show at Imperial College London, March 2007.

What Others Say

Our press clippings are numerous. Dip in for some enjoyable reading. Here is a tiny sampling: Tages Anzeiger, ABC News, Times of London, El Pais, Wired, Banque des Savoirs, Nature Network, The Age, CBS Sunday Morning News [with video], Wired News, The California Tech, El Commercio, The Times Higher Education Supplement, Sport et Vie, The Wall Street Journal, The Star, The Rocky Mountain News, Universum, Journal of the American Medical Association, Alternet, MSNBC, USA Today, CNN [with video], Shargh, Velcro City Tourist Board, ..., and many more.