The 2009 Ig® Nobel Prize Ceremony and Lectures
2009 Ig Nobel chemistry prize winners Miguel Apátiga (dark jacket) and Javier Morales (light jacket) conclude their one-minute acceptance speech in timely fashion, thanks to a reminder from eight-year-old Miss Sweetie Poo. (The scientists placed the hat on Miss Sweetie Poo's head in response to her reminder.) Apátiga, Morales and Victor Castano were honored for creating diamonds from liquid — specifically from tequila. At right, several of the nine Nobel laureates who handed out the prizes and shook hands with the winners.
- The Winners
- Nearly-Complete List of Ignitaries
- Premiere of "The Big Bank Opera"
- Downloadable Poster
- Ig Informal Lectures
Previous years' details / Press contacts
Sanders Theater, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Boston Squeezebox Ensemble concert:
in the lobby — 6:45
Penny-Wise Guys risk cabaret concert: in
the theater — 7:15 pm.
Ceremony proper begins at 7:30 pm.
Click for a map and directions, or to learn how to pahk your cah near Hahvud Yahd.
The 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony introduced ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners. The winners traveled to the ceremony, at their own expense, from several continents. The Prizes were handed to them by a group of genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel Laureates, assisted by a large number of assorted Ig personnel, all before a perpetually standing-room only audience. The ceremony included many other delights—see details below.
(A full report, with action photos, appears in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. Click here to see details and video of last year's (2008) ceremony, here to see the Improbable Research special issue about that ceremony. And for a journalist's view of the ceremony, read Steve Nadis's firsthand account.)
WEBCAST: After several exciting glitches, VIDEO of the ceremony is now online, in one part on YouTube (embedded below) or in four parts on Vimeo:
Part 1: Pre-show Risk Cabaret Concert by The Penny-wise Guys, and the
very, very beginning of the ceremony.
Part 2: Lots of introductions. Several past winners return. Benoit Mandelbrot's keynote address.
Part 3: Awarding of several prizes. First 2 acts of the mini-opera. The 24/7 Lectures.
Part 4: Awarding of the rest of the prizes. Win-a-Date contest. Thrilling conclusion of the mini-opera.
|Special thanks to these supporters — they helped make the ceremony possible:|
Theme: The theme of this year's ceremony is: RISK.
(The theme pertains to some of the goings-on at the ceremony, though not necessarily to any of the year's prize-winning achievements).
In addition to the awarding of the Prizes, the ceremony included a variety of momentously inconsequential events:
- Keynote Address (60 seconds long): Benoit Mandelbrot on the topic: RISK.
- The Big Bank Opera: World premiere of
this 4-act mini-opera starring Maria
Ferrante and Ben
Sears, and pianist Branden
Grimmett, conducted by David
Stylish bankers in a swanky Wall Street bar explained the explosive
rise and fall of big banking and big bankers.
[VIDEO: Watch edited video of the premiere: Act 1; Act 2; Act 3; Act 4]
[LIBRETTO: The libretto is published in the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.
- Risk Cabaret Pre-Concert: A special pre-ceremony concert (began at 7:15 pm) starring The Penny-Wise Guys (Nick Carstoiu, Michael Ricca, Neara Russell, and a little big band) presenting juicy cabaret songs about risk, reward, and Bernie Madoff.
- Pre--pre-show Boston Squeezebox Ensemble concert in lobby
at 6:45 pm), led by Thomas
[VIDEO: See a few moments of their performance here].
- The Nobel laureates who physically handed the Ig Nobel Prizes
to the new winners:
- Rich Roberts (physiology or medicine, 1993)
- Wolfgang Ketterle (physics, 2001)
- Dudley Herschbach (chemistry, 1986)
- Paul Krugman (economics, 2008)
- Roy Glauber (physics, 2005)
- Frank Wilczek (physics, 2004)
- Martin Chalfie (chemistry, 2008)
- Orhan Pamuk (literature 2006)
- William Lipscomb (chemistry, 1976)
- The 24/7 Lectures, in which several of the world's
top thinkers explained his or her subject twice:
FIRST: a complete technical description in TWENTY-FOUR (24) SECONDS*
AND THEN: a clear summary that anyone can understand, in SEVEN (7) WORDS.
The lecturers and their topics:
- Wade Adams, director of the Richard E. Smalley Institute
for Nanoscale Science & Technology, at Rice University.
- Stephen Wolfram,
creator of Wolfram Alpha and of Mathematica, and author of the book
A New Kind of Science.
Krugman, Professor of Economics and International Affairs
at Princeton University, and 2008 Nobel laureate in economics.
J. Anderson, Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology and Microbiology
at Boston University School of Medicine, and 2008 Ig Nobel Medicine
- Wade Adams, director of the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science & Technology, at Rice University.
- The Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest
- Karen Hopkin, creator of the Studmuffins of Science Calendar
- Returning Ig Nobel Prize winners:
- Don Featherstone (creation of the plastic pink flamingo)
- Deborah Anderson (effectiveness of Coca-Cola as a spermicide)
- Francis Fesmire (digital rectal massage as cure for intractable hiccups)
- Rebecca Waber (high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine)
- Dan Meyer (swordswallowing and its side effects)
- Gala Introduction of the Audience Delegations
- All speeches were brief, and thus especially delightful
- The Minordomos (Genevieve Reynolds, Julia Lunetta, James Mahoney, Anna Eliseeva, Zack Fisher, Peaco Todd, Randall (XKCD) Munroe [absent because of illness] and Danielle Streifthau) made most things run smoothly on stage.
- The V-Chip Monitor, Prominent New York Attorney William J. Maloney, guarded against offensive words, sounds, thoughts, or imaginings.
- Portions of the ceremony were simultaneously translated into several languages, in a manner most pleasing.
- The Traditional "Welcome, Welcome" Speech
- The Traditional "Goodbye, Goodbye" Speech
- Other wondrous things
Click on the image at right for a downloadable 2009 Ig Nobel Ceremony Poster in spiffy PDF format.
The Poster is a great way to increase Ig Nobel awareness among friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and complete strangers.
Two days after the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, a related event:
Click here for a downloadable PDF
of the Informal Lectures flyer.
The Ig Informal Lectures
Saturday, Oct 3, 2009, 1:00 pm.
MIT Building 10, Room 250
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge
(Click here for a map and directions)
FREE ADMISSION -- but seating is limited
A half-afternoon of improbably funny, informative, brief (5 minutes each, plus a few questions & answers with the audience), high-spirited public lectures, in which the new Ig Nobel Prize winners (and a few past winners, too) attempt to explain what they did, and why they did it.
This free event is organized in cooperation with the MIT Press Bookstore.
All Ig Nobel Prizes activities are organized by the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). The ceremony is co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association (HRSFA), the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students (SPS), the Harvard Computer Society, and the book The Man Who Tried to Clone Himself, published by Plume Books, New York, ISBN 0452287723.
The Ig Informal Lectures are co-sponsored by the MIT Press Bookstore.
About the Ceremony:
Annals of Improbable Research editor Marc Abrahams (+1) 617-491-4437
Improbable admin Lisa Birk
[On October 1, the day of the ceremony, if you can't reach anyone at Improbable Research, please instead call the Harvard News Office, (+1) 617-495-1585]