What Is Improbable Research?


Improbable research is research that makes people laugh and then think.

We collect improbable research. Real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere. Research that's maybe good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless.

Things We Do

We do many things, all related:

Why We Do It

Our goal is to make people LAUGH, then THINK. We also hope to spur people's curiosity, and to raise the question: How do you decide what's important and what's not, and what's real and what's not — in science and everywhere else?

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but, 'That's funny..." Isaac Asimov

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." Sherlock Holmes

The Magazine

The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) is a six-issues-a-year magazine, spotlighting genuine, improbable research culled from the entire world. We also publish original improbable research.

The Ig Nobel Prizes

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people laugh, and then make them think. The winners come to a gala ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre, and then give public lectures at MIT.

Events

We produce the annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, the annual Ig Nobel EuroTours, and other events—See our Events Calendar.

Improbable Research Talks

If you need need a truly intriguing talk to enliven your meeting, museum, or group—about research on almost any subject—we can probably supply it.

Marc Abrahams (founder of the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, and editor of the Annals of Improbable Research), numerous Ig Nobel Prize winners, and many other scientists and other researchers, have enlivened countless meetings, conferences, universities, companies, TED Talks, etc.

Who We Are

Staff: Our staff is tiny: Editor and Co-Founder Marc Abrahams, European Bureau Chief Kees Moeliker, General Manager David Kessler, and a few other improbable individuals. Yet our gang is vast—Improbable Research is a vast, happy, open collaboration of many volunteers (scientists, journalists, teachers, students, and all sorts of other people) in many countries).

Editorial Board: Our editorial board consists of fifty-odd eminent scientists, doctors, etc. from aroundthe world, including several Nobel Prize winners and a convicted felon.

Improbable Research is produced by the people who founded and organize the annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. (We are also the very same people who from 1955-1994 founded and edited the Journal of Irreproducible Results. In 1994, when the Journal's publisher decided to abandon the magazine, we decided to abandon that publisher. Unable to get use of the old name, we started a brand new publication — the Annals of Improbable Research. And yes, we are AIRheads.)

Offices: Improbable Research is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. In 2006 the Improbable Research European Bureau opened in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Phil Campbell debates Fiona Barclay
VIDEO: Watch an Improbable show in London (click on the picture). The image here shows Nature editor-in-chief Philip Campbell and chemist Fiona Barclay going finger-to-nose during the Great Inertia Debate, a featured (though brief) part of the show at Imperial College London, March 2007.

What Others Say

Our press clippings are numerous. Dip in for some enjoyable reading.