Donate to the Igs

Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

Ig Nobel Prizes in The New Yorker Crossword Puzzle

Friday, April 9th, 2021

The Ig Nobel Prizes have again wandered into a crossword puzzle, this time as a clue in the April 5, 2021 puzzle in The New Yorker. The clue for one of the across words is:

17 Item whose slipperiness was the subject of a 2014 Ig Nobel Prize-winning study

By our lazy count, this is the fourth time the Ig Nobel Prizes have appeared in a major crossword puzzle (if there is such a thing as a major crossword puzzle) in an English-language publication. The Week used it in their puzzle on October 19, 2015. The New York Times used it in their puzzle on December 20, 2020. The Wall Street Journal used it in their puzzle January 23, 2021

The Igs have also been an answer on the Jeopardy! TV program eight times or so.

(Thanks to Miriam Bloom for bringing this to our attention.)

Usefulness, for Teachers, of Ig Nobel Prizes

Tuesday, April 6th, 2021

Here’s yet another use of the Ig Nobel Prizes as a teaching tool:

Vibrating an Earthworm [Ig Informal Lecture]

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

Here is the Ig Informal Lecture by the winners of the 2020 Ig Nobel Physics Prize.

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK. In the Ig Informal Lectures, some days after the ceremony, the new Ig Nobel Prize winners attempt to explain what they did, and why they did it. [In non-pandemic years, the lectures happen at MIT, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, two days after the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. But in the pandemic year 2020, it’s all happening online.]

The 2020 Ig Nobel Prize for Acoustics was awarded to Ivan Maksymov and Andrey Pototsky, for determining, experimentally, what happens to the shape of a living earthworm when one vibrates the earthworm at high frequency. They documented that research, in this study:

Unleashing the Lectures

We are releasing The Ig Informal Lectures, one at a time, here on, and on YouTube.

Prize Winner’s New Book About Death and Taxes and Follies

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021

Joel Slemrod, who was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize for demonstrating a relationship between death and taxes, has a new book coming out.

The book is Rebellion, Rascals, and Revenue: Tax Follies and Wisdom through the Ages Hardcover, by Michael Keen and Joel Slemrod, published by Princeton University Press (scheduled publication date April 6, 2021).

The 2001 Ig Nobel Prize for economics was awarded to Joel Slemrod and Wojciech Kopczuk, for their conclusion that people find a way to postpone their deaths if that would qualify them for a lower rate on the inheritance tax.

They documented that research, in the study ”Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity,” National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper No. W8158, March 2001.

Two Historic Brassiere-to-Face-Mask Innovations

Tuesday, March 16th, 2021

Dr. Elena Bodnar‘s 2009 Ig Nobel Prize-winning Emergency Bra may be the most spectacular and fashionable instance of brassiere design and protective-face-mask design intersecting. But it is not the first.

The 3M company’s N95 mask grew from an-early-1960s bra-cup design by Sara Little Turnbull, according to reports (“How One Woman Inspired The Design For The N95 Mask” and “N95“) by National Public Radio. (Thanks to Dominick Dunlop for bringing this to our attention.)

Here’s video of Dr. Bodnar giving the first public demonstration (assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle, Orhan Pamuk, and Paul Krugman) of her invention, at the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University:

Here is some technical detail from Dr. Bodnar’s patent:

Improbable Research