Archive for 'Ig Nobel'

Put a spin on it: Whirling babies then, and adults in the future

Friday, August 16th, 2019

Compare and contrast, if you will, this press release from the University of Colorado: “Artificial gravity breaks free from science fiction

…and the Ig Nobel Prize-winning patent by George and Charlotte Blonsky: “Apparatus for facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force

A nice appreciation (what could go wrong?) of Murphy and Stapp

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

The Today I Found Out blog has a nice appreciation of two—really three—people who shared an Ig Nobel Prize for (probably) giving Murphy’s Law it’s name. The appreciation is called “WHO WAS ‘MURPHY’ IN ‘MURPHY’S LAW’ AND THE AMAZING DR. JOHN PAUL STAPP WHO GAVE US THE EXPRESSION.”

The 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for engineering was awarded to the late John Paul Stapp, the late Edward A. Murphy, Jr., and George Nichols, for jointly giving birth in 1949 to Murphy’s Law, the basic engineering principle that “If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, someone will do it “(or, in other words: “If anything can go wrong, it will”).

By pretty much all accounts, John Stapp was the central figure. That’s him, undergoing extreme decelleration in a rocket-powered sled, in this series of photos:

At the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University, the prize presentation involved: Author Nick T. Spark , on behalf of John Paul Stapp’s widow, Lilly; (2) Edward Murphy’s Edward A. Murphy III, on behalf of his late father; and (3) George Nichols, via audio tape. You can watch video of that historic happening.

For a deep and fun exploration of the history (and slight mystery, still) behind that, see “The Fastest Man on Earth,” Nick T. Spark, Annals of Improbable Research, vol. 9, no. 5, Sept/Oct 2003. Spark expanded that long article into a delightful book called A History of Murphy’s Law.

Here’s a US Air Force documentary film about some of John Stapp’s work:



One month from today: The 29th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony

Monday, August 12th, 2019

The 29th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony will happen one month from today—on Thursday, September 12, 2019—at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University.

Some (but not a lot of) TICKETS are still available from the Harvard Box Office.

Ten new Ig Nobel Prize winners will be revealed. Their prizes will be handed to them by a gaggle of bemused Nobel laureates.

The theme of this year’s ceremony (though not necessarily of the things that win prizes) is HABITS. The ceremony will include the premiere of the mini-opera “Creatures of Habit,” about a visit to the (fictional, alas) Museum of Bad Habits.

The ceremony will be webcast live, as it has been every year since 1995. (Webcasting was more or less invented for that year’s ceremony. Our broadcast engineer in the early years was none other than Robert T. Morris).

Prize-winning underwear that traps bad smells

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

A quick video visit with the winner of the 2001 Ig Nobel Prize for biology:



Ig Nobel ceremony TICKETS go on sale TODAY

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

Tickets for the 29th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony go on sale today—Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at NOON (US eastern time)—exclusively from the Harvard Box Office.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!