About the 2000 Ig™ Nobel Prize Ceremony, and related events


The 2000 Ig™ Nobel Prize Ceremony

WHEN & WHERE: The 10th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was held on Thursday evening, October 5, 2000, at Harvard University's Sanders Theater.

WHAT: Ten new Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded. The winners paid their own way to come. The prizes were handed to them by a group of genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel Laureates.

TELECAST AND RADIO: The ceremony was telecast live in the net. Click below to watch recorded video on YouTube. (Click here to see the opera libretto.)

The ceremony was recorded also for later broadcast on NPR's "Science Friday" program.

THEME: Every year, the ceremony has a new theme. (The theme pertains to some of the goings-on at the ceremony, but not necessarily to any of the year's prize-winning achievements). This year's theme was INTELLIGENCE.

ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: In addition to the awarding of the Prizes, the ceremony was jam-packed with a variety of momentously inconsequential events. Chief among them:

  • The Great Intelligence Debate, to determine which of the debaters is the smartest person in the world. Participants included top scientists, politicians, musicians, etc. Here is the rundown:

    • Ray Kurzweil - "inventor of the reading machine for the blind, and the Kurzweil Music Synthesizer, author, and philosopher"
      vs.
      Paul Berman -- "The smartest Harvard undergraduate, selected as such in a random drawing"

      Michael Baume, "Australian Consul General, and philosopher"
      vs.
      Osman M. Bakr -- "The smartest MIT undergraduate, selected as such in a random drawing"

      Jerome Lettvin, "MIT biologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, and philosopher"
      vs.
      Ten members of MENSA, "the international society for people with high IQs"

      Dean Kamen, "inventor of the IBOT personal motion device, founder of the national robotics competition for high school students, and philosopher."
      vs.
      A team of three Nobel laureates

      Jamil Mahuad -- "former president of the Nation of Ecuador, and philosopher."
      vs.
      Leonid Hambro - "former principal pianist of the New York Philharmonic, former touring partner of Vicor Borge, and philosopher."

    • Each round pitted one individual against another
    • Each round lasted thirty (30) seconds; the time limit was enforced by professional referee John Barrett.
    • In each round, both debaters had to talk at the same time
    • Each round was be scored by the Nobel Laureates, who held aloft cards that inicated the IQ of the winner
    • The winner was a nine-year-old girl who was introduced into the competiton at the last moment.
  • "The Brain Food Opera," a new mini-opera performed by professional opera singers and Nobel Laureates
  • Appearances by past Ig winners Don Featherstone (creator of the plastic pink flamingo) and Hyok-Ho Kwon (inventor of the self-perfuming business suit).
  • The Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest. Nobel Laureate Rich Roberts was this year's prize.
  • Gala Entrance Parade of the Audience Delegations
  • A special pre-ceremony micro-concert by pianist Leonid Hambro and behind-the-back violinist Stephen Provine
  • Public premiere of the slide show "Professor Lipscomb's Secret Mission"
  • A profusion of Duck® brand Bubble Wrap®

Ig-Related Events

In the days immediately following the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, there will be two related events:
  • The IG MEDICAL LECTURES at Harvard School of Public Health on Friday, October 6, 2 pm., Snyder Auditorium, HSPH, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston. No tickets needed -- but seating is limited. (K-12 groups wishing to reserve seats please telephone 617-491-4437)
    • Public lectures, with juicy techno-medical details, by the new Ig Nobel Prize winners in the fields of:
      • Biology
      • Medicine
      • Physics
      • Public Health
  • The IG INFORMAL LECTURES at MIT, on Saturday afternoon, October 7. 1:00 pm. room 26-100. No tickets needed -- but seating is limited. (K-12 groups wishing to reserve seats please telephone 617-491-4437)
    • Several of the new Ig Nobel Prize winners will explain, to the best of their abilities, why they did what they did. Appearing will be the winners in the fields of:
      • Computer Science
      • Biology
      • Medicine
      • Physics
      • Public Health
    • A mini-lecture by 1999 Ig Nobel Prize winner Hyuk-Ho Kwon, inventor of the self-perfuming business suit.
    • Several participants from Thursday night's Great Intelligence Debate will explain why Thursday's debate result was wrong.
    • Special one-time-only Great Intelligence Death-Match Debate:
      • Osman M. Bakr -- "The smartest MIT undergraduate, selected as such in a random drawing"
      • vs.
      • Paul Berman -- "The smartest Harvard undergraduate, selected as such in a random drawing"
    • A very special music/science/humor mini-concert by pianist Leonid Hambro

NOTE: Camille Paglia and Ed Koch agreed not to appear at this year's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. They lived up to their word.