The 1999 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony
The 1999 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony
WHEN & WHERE: The 9th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was held on Thursday evening, September 30, 1999, at Harvard University's Sanders Theater.
WHY: The Igs are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative, and spur people's interest in science.
WHAT: The annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony honors individuals whose achievements "cannot or should not be reproduced." Ten prizes are given to people who have done remarkably goofy things -- some of them admirable, some perhaps otherwise. At the ceremony, 1200 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the winners step forward to accept their Prizes. The Prizes are physically handed to the winners by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel Laureates.
AND WHAT'S MORE: The ceremony was jam-packed with a variety of momentously inconsequential events, including:
- Len Fisher, discoverer of the optimal way to dunk a biscuit
- Mimi Koehl, hairy-little-appendage-researching U-Cal Berkeley biologist and MacArthur award winner
- Dudley Herschbach, 1986 Nobel Chemistry Laureate
- JoAnn Manson , Professor at Harvard Medical School, and Chief of Preventive Medicine at Brigham & Women's Hospital
- Jenna Caldwell, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences, U-Alaska Fairbanks
- Eric Schulman, author of A Briefer History of Time
- 16-year-old Kate Eppers, Salem (MA) High School
- Erik Kramer, Massachusetts Division of Abandoned Property
the world premiere of The Seedy Opera, a mini-opera based on the legend of human cloning pioneer (and 1998 Ig winner) Richard Seed, starring Millennial diva Margot Button, Biotechnological tenor Matthew Campbell, and the Nobel Laureates
the 30-second Heisenberg Certainty Lectures delivered by:
the Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest, in which one lucky audience member won Sheldon Glashow
a tribute to the concept of HEREDITY (featuring descendants of famous scientists) and dazzling micro-lectures on Heredity by
Nobel Laureates Sheldon Glashow, Dudley Herschbach, William Lipscomb, Robert Wilson, et al.
The world premiere of "Professor Lipscomb Makes a Cup of Tea"
anti-grizzly-bear-suit-inventor (and 1998 Ig winner) Troy Hurtubise
12-year old science hero Emily Rosa
one Majordomo, four Minordomos, one V-Chip Monitor -- and 8-year-old Miss Sweetie-Poo, who ensured that all speeches were kept brief
and lots more.
WHENCE: The event was inflicted on you by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR).
It is co-sponsored by:
The 1999 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
PHYSICS: Dr. Len Fisher of Bath, England and Sydney, Australia for calculating the optimal way to dunk a biscuit.
Professor Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck of the University of East Anglia, England, and Belgium, for calculating how to make a teapot spout that does not drip.
LITERATURE: The British Standards Institution for its six-page specification (BS-6008) of the proper way to make a cup of tea.
SCIENCE EDUCATION: The Kansas State Board of Education and the Colorado State Board of Education, for mandating that children should not believe in Darwin's theory of evolution any more than they believe in Newton's theory of gravitation, Faraday's and Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism, or Pasteur's theory that germs cause disease.
MEDICINE: Dr. Arvid Vatle of Stord, Norway, for carefully collecting, classifying, and contemplating which kinds of containers his patients chose when submitting urine samples. (REFERENCE: "Unyttig om urinprøver," Arvid Vatle, Tidsskift for Den norske laegeforening [The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association], no. 8, March 20, 1999, p. 1178.)
CHEMISTRY: Takeshi Makino, president of The Safety Detective Agency in Osaka, Japan, for his involvement with S-Check, an infidelity detection spray that wives can apply to their husbands' underwear.
MANAGED HEALTH CARE: The late George and Charlotte Blonsky of New York City and San Jose, California, for inventing a device (US Patent #3,216,423) to aid women in giving birth -- the woman is strapped onto a circular table, and the table is then rotated at high speed.
See the Ceremony (Video)
Musical suggestion: Beforehand, print out the words to The Seedy Opera, and have them on hand during the telecast.
Get yourself some popcorn and paper airplanes, then click below to see video of the 1999 Ig ceremony.
A specially edited version of the ceremony was broadcast on National Public Radio's "Science Friday with Ira Flatow" program on November 26, 1999. (This is a longstanding traditionóthe day after American (but not Canadian!) Thanksgiving!)
You can an archive of that broadcast and previous years' broadcasts on the SciFri web site!
A related event:
The Ig Informal Lectures --
happened on Saturday, Oct 2, 1999
What: Six of the new Ig Nobel Prize winners attempted -- successfully! -- to explain their work. Each of these Ig Lectures was approximately 20 minutes long. (Two other new winners were at the Thursday night ceremony, but had to scoot home the next day.) The afternoon included:
talks by SIX of the new Ig Nobel Prize winners (two other winners were at the Thursday night Prize ceremony, but had to scoot home the following morning); and...
12-year-old Emily Rosa told about Evolution in Kansas and in her home state of Colorado, and elsewhere
1998 Ig winner Troy Hurtubise revealed his new new MAJOR TECHNICAL BREAKTHROUGH n bulletproof armor
the original cast of The Seedy Opera performed selected portions thereof
Where: MIT's Wong Auditorium.
A related event:
Ig Nobel Medical Seminar --
happened on Monday, October 4, 1999
What: DR. ARVID VATLE, winner of the 1999 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine, gave a special seminar at Harvard Medical School. Click here to see the text of Dr. Vatle's talk.
Where: Carrie Hall, Brigham & Women's Hospital
Print it, and post it in strategic places, please!
Artistic credits: The poster was designed by Keith Clark. The Ig 99 logo (the "Hereditary Stinker") was created by Peaco Todd, modifying the traditional "Stinker" design by Lois Malone.