Ig Nobel Prize Tour of the UK 2005

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2005 Ig™ Nobel Tour of the UK

(The photos below were taken by Ig Nobel Prize winner Kees Moeliker, unless otherwise noted. Also see some photos taken by an audience member in Oxford.)

Audience members in Warrington.

See below for schedule details and some entertaining accounts

(Click here for further EVENT DETAILS)

WHEN: March, 2005

WHERE: Oxford, Nottingham, Warrington, London, London

WHY: To celebrate National Science Week

WHO & WHAT: Marc Abrahams (organizer of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and editor of the Annals of Improbable Research) and guests, including:

  • Ig Nobel Prize winners (and their peers) -- They explained what they did and (when/where possible) why
  • The Atkins Diet Opera -- Attractive, perfectly-nourished singers performed the complete mini-opera.
  • Project Cuppa -- Scientists demonstrated their rituals for preparing tea and/or coffee
  • The Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists (LFHCfS) -- appearances by members and their hair
  • Marc Abrahams explains the concept of Miss Sweetie Poo -- the eight-year-old girl who persuades speakers not to exceed their alloted time at the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony.

    Here are several entertaining accounts (many written by the incomparable Donald MacLeod) that appeared in The Guardian :

  • [preview] "The 2005 Ig Nobel Tour," February 11, 2005
  • [preview] "Cup of tea, everyone?" March 1, 2005
  • [preview] "Atkins: the Opera, and other ignoble ideas," March 6, 2005
  • "Necrophilia among ducks ruffles research feathers," March 8, 2005
  • "Farting fish fingered," March 11, 2005
  • "Randy rock doves join party with the dead,": March 14, 2005
  • "Sexy yawns," March 16, 2005
  • "Ancient Greeks balls it up," March 17, 2005
  • "Marc Abrahams' tour diary," March 22, 2005

  • CO-SPONSORED BY: The Guardian and the British Association for the Advancement of Science.

    For further info about the tour, see The Guardian's Ig Tour site and the BA's Ig Tour site.


    The performance, in the Warrington show, of the mini-opera "The Atkins Diet Opera" by members of the Manchester University Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

    HIGHLIGHTS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS: 2004, 2003.


    Ig Nobel 2005 UK Tour Events

    OXFORD, Friday, 11 March, 8:00 PM
    Martin Wood Lecture Theatre, part of the Physics Department (adjacent to the Clarendon Laboratory on Parks Road at the corner with Keble Road), University of Oxford.
    TICKETS: Tickets are free and you can turn up on the night, but MUST book in advance to guarantee a seat on 0207 019 4963 or email <[email protected]>. In your email, please provide name, & number of tickets required.

    WARRINGTON, CHESHIRE: Monday, 14 March, 7:00 PM
    CCLRC Daresbury Laboratory, Keckwick Lane, Daresbury, nearr Warrington.
    TICKETS: Tickets are free, but please book in advance on 01925 603488 or email <[email protected]>.

    Kees Moeliker shows the curious behavior of mallard ducks that he noticed one day at work. His subsequent writeup of the event has attracted much attention from the interational science community, and from duck enthusiasts of many kinds. Photo: Marc Abrahams.

    NOTTINGHAM, Tuesday, 15 March, 7:00 PM
    John Clare Lecture Theatre 6, Clifton Campus, Clifton Lane (A453), Nottingham Trent University.
    TICKETS: First come, first serve, pay on the door, £5 or £4.00 students and BA members

    LONDON, Wednesday, 16 March, 7:30 PM
    Dana Centre, 165 Queen's Gate, South Kensington.

    LIVE GUARDIAN WEB CHAT, Thursday, 17 March, 3:00 PM (And you can post questions in advance!)
    With Marc Abrahams
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/talk.

    LONDON, Thursday, 17 March, 6:30 PM
    The Guardian Newsroom. 60 Farringdon Road (directly opposite the main Guardian building at 119 Farringdon Road).
    TICKETS: This event is free but places must be booked by calling 020 7019 4938 or emailing <[email protected]>

    And also...

    • National Science Week Launch event, Thursday, 10 March: (by invitation only)
    • And who knows what else...

    Winners and Friends on the Tour

    Ben Wilson explains how and why he and his colleagues discovered a most unexpected means by which herrings apparently exchange information.

    Here are some of the Ig Nobel Prize winners, and other distinguished persons, who appeared in one or more of the Tour events. .

  • ROBERT BATTY (Ig Nobel Biology Prize winner, 2004). The discovery that herrings apparently communicate by farting.
  • CHRIS McMANUS (Ig Nobel Medicine Prize winner, 2002 and 2003 Aventis Prize winner). Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and in Ancient Sculpture
  • KEES MOELIKER (Ig Nobel Biology Prize winner, 2003), The First Scientifically Recorded Case of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Duck
  • WOLTER SEUNTJENS. A comprehensive study of the Hidden Sexuality of the Human Yawn.
  • PEK VAN ANDEL (Ig Nobel Medicine Prize winner, 2000). The first MRI pictures taken of a couple's sexual organs while those organs were in use.
  • BEN WILSON (Ig Nobel Biology Prize winner, 2004). The discovery that herrings apparently communicate by farting
  • Click here for a preview of half of Kees Moeliker's talk (He will also discuss a new discovery).

    Project Cuppa

    At Nottingham Trent University immediately following the show, Ig Nobel Medicine Prize winner Pek Van Andel (right) and a security guard discuss a fine point of the anatomy of bulls. Dr. Van Andel initiated the discussion by walking into the guard's office, handing him the objects visible here (in the guard's hand), and saying "I bet you don't know what these are." Photo: Marc Abrahams.

    Project Cuppa is our attempt to collect the best scientists' best rituals for preparing tea or coffee.

    If you want to (and can) demonstrate your Project Cuppa entry on stage at one of the Ig-Nobel-Tour-of-the-UK events, here's what to do.

    Please bring yourself, your favorite teacup or coffee cup, and any other props you might need (you may not need any, as we will provide a blackboard and chalk). Show up a good 30 minutes before the start of the show.

    If there are too many Project Cuppa demonstrators at any one show, we will make a virtue of it. In such case, we will choose a small number to do demos, and invite everyone else to invite each other out for a cuppa.

    Click here for a preview of Project Cuppa.

    Additional photos

    The performance of "The Atkins Diet Opera" at the Guardian Newsroom, in London.

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    Pek Van Andel explaining,with brio, how and why his team in Groningen took the first MRI pictures of a couple's reproductive organs while those organs were in use.

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    Sarah and Alice Redmond perform "The Atkins Diet Opera" at the Dana Centre show, in London.

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    Ig Nobel Medicine Prize winner Chris McManus demonstrates his personal coffee preparation ritual.He then explained, but did not fully demonstrate, the scrotal asymmetry work (comparing that phenomenon in man and ancient sculpture) that won him an Ig.

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    Ig Nobel Biology Prize winner Bob Batty elucidates the beauty and wonder -- especially the wonder -- of herring communication.

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    Wolter Seuntjens spent two decades completing his Ph.D. thesis about the erotic aspects of yawning.

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    The Guardian

    British Association for the Advancement of Science

    The book:

    The other book: