Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

In the midst of important things: SVT’s Ig Nobel snippets

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

This year, Swedish live TV coverage of Nobel Week is spiced with (unrelated but delightful) Ig Nobel snippets.

Interspersed in their traditional dignified, lengthy coverage of the grand Nobel Week events in Stockholm, the Swedish television network SVT is broadcasting bits of something rather different, unrelated, and delightful-if-not-exactly-pertinent: brief reports about several of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize winners.

Take a look at part of it. Click this link (or the image below) to go to SVT’s web site. An Ig Nobel segment begins around the 27 minute point in the recording:


Arisia: Nominate a reader for our Jan. 17th event

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014


Calling all Arisia fen: Improbable Research will return to Arisia on January 17, 2015 and we’re asking the fen to help us find the best people to present some of our research papers.

What qualities should the person you nominate have to be a reader at this event?

  • Charismatic stage presence
  • A good speaking voice
  • Able to read clearly into a microphone
  • Not easily rattled when asked strange questions about a research paper they have only just read themselves
  • (and most importantly) Attending Arisia on Saturday Jan 17, 2015

The event at Arisia will include a number of brief, dramatic readings from studies and patents that have won an Ig Nobel prize. Shortly before this event begins, we supply our Readers a selection of papers to choose between.

James Bacon, illuminated by Human Spotlight, Dr. Jim Bredt (photo by D. Kessler)

Do you know someone who should be illuminated by The Human Spotlight? (photo by D. Kessler)

They choose one, and then find the portions of it they want to read – or present in some other dramatic manner – to the audience.

Each presentation will be 2 minutes long, after which the Reader may (if they wish) entertain questions from the audience. In answering these questions, they may draw from the paper or from their personal experience. They may surmise or deflect, but they must not lie.


If you know people like this then please go to our nomination page and tell us that they would be good readers for this Ig-Arisia event.

If you would like to know people like this, then head to our nomination page to see who has already been nominated.

We encourage you to nominate attendees, staff, vendors, or other unexpected people who would do a good job (see the list of qualities, above).

Sharp look at Iggy fluid-dynamics

Monday, December 8th, 2014

24/7 Lectures get their own webpage

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Since 2001, the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony has included the 24/7 Lectures, in which some of the world’s top thinkers each explained a concept in two ways:

First, a complete, technical description in 24 seconds, and then, a clear summary that anyone can understand in 7 words.

Now all the 24/7 Lectures are collected, together in one place.

You can see the lecture texts, as well as notes, a link to the video of each lecture, and the a count of the actual number of words used in the clear 7-word summary.

24/7 Lecturers: Benoit Mandelbrot (fractals), Rebecca German (morphology), Carol Greider (telomeres), and Richard Jakowski (purring).

24/7 Lecturers: Benoit Mandelbrot (fractals), Rebecca German (morphology), Carol Greider (telomeres), and Richard Jakowski (purring).

There have been over 60 Lectures since this program began in 2001. The lecturers have included Nobel Laureates, Professors, Authors, and Inventors. The List of topics explained in 24 seconds and then in 7 words has included Statistics, Dark Matter, Income Inequality, Vaginal pH, Genius, Cryptography, The Genome, and The Possibility of Arsenic Based Life In Our Universe.

“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge.” - Book of Proverbs
“Long life should be longer. Speech should be short.” - Dr. Yoshiro Nakamats

The webpage also includes a precursor to the 24/7 Lectures: The Heisenberg Certainty Lectures. These lectures, a featured part of most of the early Ig Nobel Prize ceremonies, were each 30 seconds long, written and performed by many Nobel Laureates. Each Heisenberg Certainty lecturer could talk about whatever they wanted — but were strictly limited to those 30 seconds. The time limit was enforced by referee John Barrett. The ranks of Heisenberg Certainty Lectures included Car Talk hosts Tom & Ray Magliozzi, the president of Bijan Fragrances, the chair of the Harvard Astronomy Department, and other luminaries.

Referee and V-Chip Monitor look on while Nobel Laureate William Lipscomb gives his 2008 Lecture

Referee & V-Chip Monitor audit Nobel Laureate William Lipscomb’s 24/7 Lecture, at the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony.

Ig Nobel day-after-Thanksgiving broadcast on Science Friday

Friday, November 28th, 2014

Spread the word, please! Today, Friday, November 28, the Science Friday radio program will broadcast its specially edited highlights from the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. It’s SciFri’s 23rd annual broadcast (SciFri began this day-after-Thanksgiving tradition in 1992, the Ig Nobel ceremony’s second year).

Listen to it on a public radio station, if you’re near one, or on the Internet. (Science Friday is broadcast as two separate, hour-long programs. The Ig Nobel broadcast comprises the entire first hour.)

The photos below, by Mike Benveniste, show the paper airplane deluge, a tiny, traditional part of the epic ceremony:



BONUS: Science Friday again asked journalist Carmen Nobel (yes, that is her name) to visit the Ig Nobel after-party. Nobel’s writeup, on the Science Friday site, is called “Who’s Got the Biscotti? Mingling at the Ig Nobel Awards After-Party“.

BONUS: Download your own copies of IgBill, the printed program for the 2014 ceremony, and the 2014 ceremony poster.

BONUS: From SciFri archives, here’s last year (2013)’s Ig Nobel broadcast.

BONUS: The special Ig Nobel 2013 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research