About Marc Abrahams

Marc Abrahams writes about research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK.

Marc Abrahams
(Photo by David Kessler)

He is editor and co-founder of the magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), host and main writer of the Improbable Research weekly podcast (distributed by CBS), and author of This is Improbable Too and other books. He edits and writes much of the web site and blog www.improbable.com, and for thirteen years wrote a column (called "Improbable Research") for The Guardian newspaper.

Marc is the father and Master of Ceremonies of the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, honoring achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK. The Prizes are handed out by genuine Nobel Laureates at a gala ceremony held each autumn at Harvard University and broadcast on the internet and on National Public Radio.

The Washington Post called Marc "the nation's guru of academic grunge." The Journal of the American Medical Association called him "the Puck of Science." He has been called many other things.

Marc speaks regularly at meetings, conferences, conventions, and other gatherings, and presents an annual Improbable Research tour of the UK, Denmark, Sweden, and elsewhere each spring. He presents a special show every year at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

In addition to editing the magazine, Marc writes a monthly newsletter called mini-AIR and a daily blog. He also writes columns for other magazines, and has written the librettos for nineteen science mini-operas that premiered as part of the Ig Nobel Prize ceremonies.

Marc and several Ig Nobel Prize winners are the heroes in a manga Young Jump Magazine, Japan's most popular manga magazine. The Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony has also been the subject of several documentaries. Marc explains the essence of the Ig Nobel Prizes in this PBS NewsHour Weekend interview.

The Improbable Research editorial board of more than 50 distinguished scientists includes many Nobel Laureates, several Ig Nobel Prize winners, IQ record holder Marilyn Vos Savant, and a convicted felon.

Marc also writes for other publications, on science, technology, medicine, and other topics. He is or has been a regular columnist for several magazines, including: Cómo Ves (in Mexico), The Harvard Business Review, Zeitwissen (in Germany), Le Scienze (in Italy), Etiqueta Negra (in Peru), the technology magazine Embedded Systems Design, and the engineering magazine Design News, and was the back-page humor columnist for the late, lamented computer magazine Byte. He has also been a commentator for ABC-TV's World News Now and National Public Radio's "Science Friday" program.

Marc is author of the books The Ig Nobel Prizes, The Man Who Cloned Himself, Why Chickens Prefer Beautiful Humans, This Is Improbable, This is Improbable Too, The Ig Nobel Cookbook, volume 1 (co-authored with Corky White and Gus Rancatore). He edited (and wrote much of) the science humor anthologies The Best of Annals of Improbable Research and Sex As a Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble (and other improbabilities). These also appear in numerous translations (of which his favorite is Der Einfluss von Erdnussbutter auf die Erdrotation).

From 1990-1994, Marc was the editor of the Journal of Irreproducible Results. In 1994, after the magazine's publisher decided to abandon the magazine, the founders and entire editorial staff (1955-1994) of the Journal abandoned the publisher, and immediately created AIR.

Marc has a degree in applied mathematics from Harvard College, spent several years developing optical character recognition computer systems (including a reading machine for the blind) at Kurzweil Computer Products, and later founded Wisdom Simulators, a creator of educational software.

Marc is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study called "Marc Abrahams: Annals of an Improbable Entrepreneur."

He is married to psychologist Robin Abrahams, who writes the "Miss Conduct" advice column for the Boston Globe Magazine.

[NOTE: Marc described how it all began, in an essay for The Guardian.]


Marc and many kangaroos

Marc on the cover of a manga

Marc (second from right) the day after the August, 2004 show at the University of Tasmania. (Photo: Wayne Goninon)

Marc and several Ig Nobel Prize winners are the heroes in a two-episode (1, 2) manga in Japan's Young Jump magazine.