This PBS NewsHour Weekend video explains the essence of the Ig Nobel Prizes.
"The Stinker", the official mascot of the Ig Nobel Prizes.
The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.
Every September, in a gala ceremony in Harvard's Sanders Theatre, 1100 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the new winners step forward to accept their Prizes. These are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates.
The 25th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony will happen on Thursday, September 17, 2015. Tickets will go on sale, exclusively from the Harvard Box Office, in early July. (We will announce details when that time draws nearer.)
The 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony happened on Thursday, September 18, 2014. The ceremony was webcast live, here and on many major and minor news and science sites. There were webcast-watching parties and related events around the world. Videos of past ceremonies are archived on our YouTube channel and in the web pages devoted to each individual ceremony year. Our blog chronicles some of the subsequent developments.
"Last, but not least, there are the Ig Nobel awards. These come with little cash, but much cachet, and reward those research projects that 'first make people laugh, and then make them think'" — Nature
"It's like the weirdest f-ing thing that you'll ever go to... it's a collection of, like, actual Nobel Prize winners giving away prizes to real scientists for doing f'd-up things... it's awesome."— Amanda Palmer
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Who organizes the Ig Nobel Prizes?
The Ig Nobel Prizes are organized by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research. The ceremony is co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students and the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association. Find out about other Ignitaries and VIPs here.
Who has won this prize?
We have awarded 10 prizes each year since 1991. Our winners page contains a complete list for your perusal.
How do I find out about past years?
Our Ig Archive page collects details, videos, and links from our past ceremonies.
How do I find out about this year?
We have a page devoted to this year's ceremony.
What about the Ig Informal Lectures?
Winners are given only 60 seconds to explain themselves during the prize ceremony, so the following Saturday we give them considerably more time, plus a projector, so they can explain themselves and their research more fully, and discuss details with the audience..
Can I nominate someone for an Ig Nobel prize?
Of course! For details on how the nomination process works, please read here.
Has anyone ever turned down this award?
We try to contact chosen winners in advance, privately, to offer the prize and give them the option to decline the honor. If someone declines, we simply, privately withdraw the offer. Happily, nearly everyone who is offered an Ig Nobel Prize decides to accept, and also decides to come be part of the ceremony.
Are you ridiculing science?
No. We are honoring achievements that make people laugh, then think. Good achievements can also be odd, funny, and even absurd; So can bad achievements. A lot of good science gets attacked because of its absurdity. A lot of bad science gets revered despite its absurdity.
Are those real Nobel Laureates handing out the prizes?
Yes. At every Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, several Nobel Laureates physically hand out the prizes, and participate in the ceremony in other ways.
How can I get involved with next year's ceremony?
If you have five (5) or more tickets to the Ig Nobel ceremony, your group can choose to be an Official Audience Delegation and thus be officially celebrated during the event. To register as a Delegation, first obtain tickets from the Harvard Box Office. Then register with Grand Panjandrum of the Delegations Louise Sacco: (+1) 781-444-6757. The deadline for delegation registration is the Friday before each year's ceremony, but tickets usually sell out much sooner.
If you or your organization are comfortable publicly demonstrating both a love of science and a sense of humor, we are always happy to consider volunteers, sponsors, and supporters. For more information on this, please contact us at [email protected] or (+1) 617-491-4437.
Do you have a page collecting press coverage about the Igs?
Indeed we do! How wonderful that you asked! Our Press Clips page collects the best instances of other people talking about us.
What if I would like to read about the Ig Nobels in book format?
There are several books about the Ig Nobel Prizes and several of these have been translated into other languages.
What if I'd like to see the Ig Nobels live, but can't make it to Cambridge?
You can watch the live broadcast each year on our website, and you can watch videos of past ceremonies anytime. We present other events throughout the year and around the world that (we hope) make people laugh and then think. Find a list of our upcoming events (including the annual Ig Nobel Tour of the UK).
Is there a pattern in the prizes you have awarded?
We judge nomination based on whether first make us laugh, and then make us think. No other pattern is intended. But after so many years, it is possible that some interesting statistics and correlations exist. The company, Silk created an interactive database of Ig Nobel Prize Winners to help you with that. And 2010 Ig Nobel Management Prize winner Andrea Rapisarda, working independently in Italy, made an app of Ig Nobel Prize winners that is available for free on iTunes.
Viliumas Malinauskus, founder of Stalin World, accepting the 2001 Ig Nobel Peace Prize. Photo: Caroline Coffman.
2004 Ig Nobel Peace Prize winner Daisuke Inoue -- the inventor of karaoke -- is serenaded by Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach (left), Richard Roberts and William Lipscomb, and by Studmuffins of Science creator Dr. Karen Hopkin. Listen to NPR's report.
The Japanese public TV network NHK created this documentary about the Igs in 2002. Click above to watch.
The Ukrainian INTER TV network sent a crew to the 2010 ceremony. Click on the image (above) to see their report.
Dutch filmmaker Bahram Sadeghi made six mini-documentaries, each about a different Ig Nobel Prize winner. Click the image above to watch the first in the series.
Andy Jordan of the Wall Street Journal attended the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, and brought his videocamera. Click the image above to watch his report.
CBS News profiled the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize winners. Click the image above to watch.
2009 Ig Nobel Public Health Prize winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention — a brassiere that, in an emergency, can be converted into a pair of protective face masks — assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle, Orhan Pamuk, and Paul Krugman. Click the image above to watch.
The Russian network NTV traveled the world to interview Ig Nobel Prize winners. Their ten-minute report was originally broadcast in December 2007. The image here shows an NTV reporter visiting the (Literature Prize-winning) Nudist Research Library in Kissimmee, Florida.
WCVB's Chronicle program did a five-minute introduction to the Ig in 2009. Click the image above to watch it.