The 1998 Ig ® Nobel Prize Ceremony

A (mostly) fresh crop of Ig Nobel Laureates was crowned at the Eighth First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, on October 8, 1998, at Harvard University's Sanders Theater. Four genuine Nobel Laureates, joined by a capacity crowd of 1200 and countless listeners and viewers via radio and the Internet, honored the winners for achievements "that cannot or should not be reproduced".

The event was produced by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research.

It was co-sponsored by Manco, official supplier of Duck® Tape to the Ig Nobel Prizes, the Harvard Computer Society, the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, and the magnificent book "The Best of Annals of Improbable Research", Marc Abrahams editor, published by W. H. Freeman, ISBN 0716730944, priced reasonably at 14.95.

Listen to a recording: A specially edited version of the ceremony was broadcast on November 27, 1998 on National Public Radio's "Science Friday with Ira Flatow" program. It is archived on Science Friday's web site.

The 1998 Winners


Troy Hurtubise, of North Bay, Ontario, for developing, and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears. 


Peter Fong of Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for contributing to the happiness of clams by giving them Prozac. ["Induction and Potentiation of Parturition in Fingernail Clams (Sphaerium striatinum) by Selective Serotonin Re- Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)," Peter F. Fong, Peter T. Huminski, and Lynette M. D'urso, "Journal of Experimental Zoology, vol. 280, 1998, pp. 260-64.] 


Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee of India and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan for their aggressively peaceful explosions of atomic bombs. 


Jacques Benveniste of France for his homeopathic discovery that not only does water have memory, but that the information can be transmitted over telephone lines and the Internet. [NOTE: Benveniste also won the 1991 Ig Nobel Chemistry Prize.] ["Transatlantic Transfer of Digitized Antigen Signal by Telephone Link," J. Benveniste, P. Jurgens, W. Hsueh and J. Aissa, "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology - Program and abstracts of papers to be presented during scientific sessions AAAAI/AAI.CIS Joint Meeting February 21-26, 1997."] 


Dolores Krieger, Professor Emerita, New York University, "for demonstrating the merits of therapeutic touch, a method by which nurses manipulate the energy fields of ailing patients by carefully avoiding physical contact with those patients." 


Jerald Bain of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto and Kerry Siminoski of the University of Alberta for their carefully measured report, "The Relationship Among Height, Penile Length, and Foot Size." [The paper was published in "Annals of Sex Research," vol. 6, no. 3, 1993, pp. 231-5.] 


Deepak Chopra of The Chopra Center for Well Being, La Jolla, California, for his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it applies to life, liberty, and the pursuit of economic happiness. [Deepak Chopra's books " "Quantum Healing," "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind," etc. and] 


Richard Seed of Chicago for his efforts to stoke up the world economy by cloning himself and other human beings.


To Patient Y and to his doctors, Caroline Mills, Meirion Llewelyn, David Kelly, and Peter Holt, of Royal Gwent Hospital, in Newport, Wales, for the cautionary medical report, "A Man Who Pricked His Finger and Smelled Putrid for 5 Years." REFERENCE: The paper was published in "The Lancet," vol. 348, November 9, 1996, p. 1282. 


Dr. Mara Sidoli of Washington, DC, for her illuminating report, "Farting as a Defence Against Unspeakable Dread." REFERENCE: "Farting as a Defence Against Unspeakable Dread," Mara Sidoli, "Journal of Analytical Psychology," vol. 41, no. 2, 1996, pp. 165-78.

Laureates' FeetPHOTO, RIGHT -- Nobel Laureates (left to right) Dudley Herschbach, William Lipscomb, and Richard Roberts wear gigantic shoes in tribute to the 1998 Ig Nobel Statistics Prize winners. Nobel Laureate Sheldon Glashow can be seen in the distance at left as he rushes to join his colleagues. Harvard Physics professor Roy Glauber serenely sweeps paper airplanes from the stage. [Photo by Eric Workman]

A Few Highlights

A splendiferous abundance of duct tape reflected the theme of this year's ceremony. The scientifical substance was all over the stage, in the air, and on the persons of participants and audience alike. A duct tape fashion show demonstrated the versatility of the adhesive, as did the revelation that Safety Engineering Prize Winner Troy Hurtubise's bear suit contained over a mile of the stuff. The world's largest roll of duct tape--which contains a staggering five and a half miles of the magical substance--greeted visitors to Memorial Hall.

The world premiere and final performance of the mini-opera "La Forza del Duct Tape" narrated the sad tale of the inventor of duct tape. Here is the complete libretto.

The lone discordant (if poetic) note was struct by Max Sherman, the Lawrence Berkeley researcher who discovered that duct tape may not be ideally suited for wrapping heat ducts.

Keynote speaker and Safety Engineering Prize Winner Troy Hurtubise spoke on the importance of seemingly bizarre inventions, as his bear suit [see the documentary film "Project Grizzly."] held center stage. At the Ig Lectures the next day, Troy unveiled the plans for his next generation suit.

The other keynote speaker, eleven year-old Emily Rosa, forgave the prize committee for not awarding her an Ig, noting that her work debunking therapeutic touch [see JAMA, 4/1/98] should not andcannot be reproduced, and is therefore ineligible.


The FeatherstonesPHOTO,RIGHT -- 1996 Ig Nobel Prizewinner Don Featherstone (creator of the plasticpink flamingo) and his wife Nancy model their new creations during theduct tape fashion show that was part of the '98 Ig Ceremony. 1998 Ig NobelPrize winner Troy Hurtubise's grizzly-bear-proof suit of armor is at right,on a handtruck. [Photo by Eric Workman]