Improbable Research


The Ig® Nobel Prizes Archive

Highlights, programs, photos, videos, operas, and more from past Ig Nobel Prize Ceremonies,
dating back to 1991.




Baham Sadeghi produced a series of six mini-movies, each featuring a different Ig Nobel Prize winner.





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Watch video of Ig Nobel Ceremonies dating back to 1995:

2017 : 2016 : 2015
2014 : 2013 : 2012 : 2011 : 2010 : 2009
2008 : 2007 : 2006 : 2005 : 2004 : 2003
2002 : 2001 : 2000 : 1999 : 1996 : 1995



Each year's ceremony has its own page, from 1997:

2017 : 2016 : 2015
2014 : 2013 : 2012 : 2011 : 2010 : 2009
2008 : 2007 : 2006 : 2005 : 2004 : 2003
2002 : 2001 : 2000 : 1999 : 1998 : 1997





Some eyewitness accounts and press clippings:

Recent : 2013 : 2012 : 2011 : 2010 : 2009 : 2008
2007 : 2006 : 2005 : 2004 : 2003
2002 : 2001 : 2000 : 1999-1994




Science Friday Broadcasts

Every year since 1994, NPR's Science Friday program has broadcast a specially-edited version of that year's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on the day after Thanksgiving. Listen to those shows:

2014
2013 : 2012 : 2011 : 2010 : 2009
2008 : 2007 : 2006 : 2005 : 2004
2003 : 2002 : 2001 : 2000 : 1999
1998 : 1997 : 1996 : 1995 : 1994




The 24/7 Lectures

The 24/7 Lectures began in 2001 and continue with more and more experts describing their specialties - first in 24 seconds, and then in 7 words. Before theses, there were the Heisenberg Certainty Lectures.

You'll find them all together into one 24/7 Lectures page.




The Operas

Every Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony since 1996 has included a new mini-opera, performed by professional opera singers (with Nobel Laureates acting in supporting roles). These mini-operas honor the tradition of the classic Bugs Bunny cartoons "What's Opera, Doc?" and "Rabbit of Seville"— each mini-opera is a pasticcio that marries a brand new story & words to beloved old music (from operas, popular songs, etc.).

  • 2018: "The Broken Heart Opera" [will premiere during the 2018 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony]—PLOT: Children curious to know 'How can you mend a broken heart?' decide that the best way is to first build a heart, then break it, then mend it. They try to do exactly that.
  • 2017: "The Incompetence Opera" [libretto (PDF)]—PLOT: A stranger, a cocky psychologist, walks into a crowded bar. He insists on explaining the Peter Principle (in any organization, people rise to their own level of incompetence) and the Dunning-Kruger effect (incompetent people don't realize they are incompetent).
  • 2016:  "The Last Second" [libretto (PDF)]—PLOT: Officials in charge of synchronizing the world's clocks realize that if they insert an extra second (an unannounced leap second) at the end of the year, they can commit prodigious financial crimes.
  • 2015:  "The Best Life" [libretto (PDF)]—PLOT: Promoters collect one of every species of life, to stage an internationally broadcast ceremony to declare which species is The Best Form of Life. Gathered all together in one giant room, the creatures want to eat and/or have sex with each other, and do. The event promoters survive, and are hauled into a courtroom packed with hungry lawyers.
  • 2014:  "What's Eating You?" [libretto (PDF)]—PLOT: A wealthy couple buy up all the farmland on earth, intending to manufacture special nutrient pills that will let them live forever. After many years,all other humans have died, and the couple runs out of pills. The bacteria in the rich couple's guts happily expect to outlive them.
  • 2013:  "The Blonsky Device" [libretto (PDF)]—PLOT: A lightly fictionalized version of the story of George and Charlotte Blonsky, inventors of a device (US patent #3,216,423) to assist women in giving birth by using centrifugal force.
  • 2012:  "The Intelligent Designer and The Universe"  [libretto (PDF)]—PLOT: The world's wealthiest man, who in his youth won the 'Mr. Universe' competition, has died. His will specifies that all the money be used to 'make a beautiful, beautiful dress for the Universe.' The world's top dress designer attempts to carry out that wish.
  • 2011:  "Chemist in a Coffee Shop"  [libretto (PDF)]—PLOT: Baristas and customers in a coffee shop obsess over the chemistry of their favorite beverage.
  • 2010:  "The Bacterial Opera"  [libretto (PDF), video]—PLOT: Gallileococcus, a brilliant bacterium who lives on a woman's tooth, uses his biofilm to make a telescope and see far out into the universe. The bacteria begin building a scaffold, so they can climb up, and boldly go explore the universe. But the woman awakes and, apocalyptically for the bacteria, brushes and flosses her teeth.
  • 2009:  "The Big Bank Opera"  [libretto (PDF), video: Act 1 Act 2 Act 3 Act 4]—PLOT: Swanky bankers celebrate themselves, the history of money, and the out-of-this-world rise of big banks. The big banks crash to earth. The bankers vituperate, with swank.
  • 2008:  "Redundancy, Again"  [libretto]—PLOT: Industrialist twin brothers fire everyone whose job in anyway overlaps anyone else's job. However, whenever even one employee quits, the entire operation grinds to a halt, because no one knows anyone else's job. Then consultants recommend, again and again, that the brothers institute redundancy.
  • 2007:  "Chicken Versus Egg"  [libretto]—PLOT: Mother/daughter tensions grow ever worse as a hen sits on an egg, as the egg hatches, and as the daughter chick herself contemplates motherhood.
  • 2006:  "Inertia Makes The World Go Around"  [libretto (PDF)—PLOT: A tale of budding romance, involving a boy, a dog, and two sisters, one of whom is always at rest, the other always in motion.
  • 2005:  "The Count of Infinity"  [libretto (PDF)]—PLOT: The Countess of Infinity, who has OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), hires an attractive accountant to help her count each and every object in the land of Infinity. They struggle with the magnitude of the task, and with incipient love.
  • 2004:  "The Atkins Diet Opera"  [libretto (PDF)]—PLOT: Dr. Atkins, observing cats munch on birds, invents the perfect diet regimen: eat only meat. Then, after becoming famous and rich, Dr. Atkins finds a way to top himself: he invents the Coffee Diet.
  • 2003:  "Atom and Eve"  [libretto]—PLOT: Eve, a chemist, falls madly in love with little Atom, who is an oxygen atom. Atom reciprocates the feeling.The lovers, who live on such different scales, yearn to consummate their love. Eve decides to use laser beams to create a giant Bose-Einstein condensate, thus bringing Atom up to size. Sort of.
  • 2002:  "The Jargon Opera"  [libretto]—PLOT: Delegates to the International Jargon Conference struggle to find understanding. They find it. They understand that they want to kill each other. They realize that the only thing that can save them, and save humanity, is harmonious misunderstanding.
  • 2001:  "The Wedding Complex"  [libretto]—PLOT: Scientists try to use their knowledge and social skills to plan the wedding of two colleagues. [NOTE: The premiere performance culminated with the actual wedding, on stage, televised worldwide, of two NASA scientists.]
  • 2000:  "The Brain Food Opera"  [libretto]—PLOT: A man and woman want to be the most intelligent couple on earth. But they disagree on how to go about it. HE insists they should eat nothing but fish. SHE insists on brains — and nothing but. Unfortunately, the brains SHE eats came from mad cows, and she contracts Mad Cow Disease. The fish HE eats were contaminated with mercury, and he comes down with Mad Hatter's Disease. The couple, who are mad for each other, create the world's next great diet fad food: Fish Brains!
  • 1999:  "The Seedy Opera"  [libretto]—PLOT—In the hills of Chicago, there dwells a brilliant, lonely shepherd named Richard Seed. One day, he makes a scientific breakthrough — he discovers how to clone sheep. And clone himself. Maidens in New Zealand, having heard the news, come to Chicago and kiss the sheep, magically transforming those sheep into handsome scientists. The lovers form a corporation to clone zillions of copies of Richard Seed, for sale as soldiers to armies of every nation.
  • 1998:  "La Forza Del Duct Tape"  [libretto]—PLOT: The inventor of duct tape undergoes tragedy, as venture capitalists duct tape him to a chair and steal his patent rights.The world's most famous reporter arrives, adding a televised capstone of ruination to the world's most terrible technological tragedy.
  • 1997:  "Il Kaboom Grosso"  [libretto]—PLOT: One day, God decides to quit smoking, but he wants to have one last cigar. The cigar explodes in a big bang, creating the universe. Beautiful galaxies form... but disturbing rumors say those galaxies are missing some of the gravitational mass necessary to maintain their shapes. The galaxies try to solve the mystery of the missing mass. They succeed.
  • 1996:  "Lament Del Cockroach"  [libretto]—PLOT: A mysterious object is heading toward the earth, threatening everyone with extinction. All the insects are desperate to mate with the one species they think could survive ANYTHING — the cockroaches. But there are only two cockroaches left, both females, and they resist the romantic overtures. The object — a meteorite from Mars —descends, killing the cockroaches. All the other insects are unharmed; they celebrate with a new burst of song, dance, and evolution.

Yuu can watch the premiere performance of each opera, in the video of that year's Ig Nobel Prize ceremony.



The Annals of Improbable Research

Every year, one issue of the Annals of Improbable Research magazine is devoted to coverage of that year's Ig winners and the associated Ceremony.




Books

There are several books (in several languages) about the Ig Nobel Prizes with copiously juicy details about the winners.

Find these in The Improbable Store





Troy Hurtubise displays his Prize 1998 winner Troy Hurtubise holds aloft his Ig Nobel Prize. Troy returned to the 1999 ceremony, and gave one of the Ig lectures two days later.
Emily Rosa keynote address 11-year old Emily Rosa, the youngest person ever to publish a research paper in a major medical journal, delivered a keynote address at the '98 Ig ceremony, as Nobellian William Lipscomb looked on. Emily returned to the 1999 ceremony, and gave one of the 1999 Ig Lectures two days later.
authority figures Among those who helped honor the 1998 winners were (left to right) Nobel Laureates Sheldon Glashow and Dudley Herschbach, magician/science observer James ("the Amazing") Randi, Harvard Physics Professor Roy Glauber, Nobellian Richard Roberts, and referee John Barrett.

 

Many people say memorable things about the Ig Nobels. Here are some from the good old days. (For more recent items, see the Press Clips pages.)
Irish Times, Le Parisienne, Japan Times, Vetenskaps-Nyheter [video], La Vanguardia, Chemical & Engineering News, Cosmic Log, Psychological Science, Yale News, The Homer Tribune, Popular Mechanics, City of Vilnius, The Daily Edge, Ars Technica, Niagara This Week, Central European University, Financial Times[AUDIO], Die Zeit, Huffington Post, Maclean's, Computerworld, Daily Telegraph, RTT News, BBC News [VIDEO], Pour la Science, Observator [Romania, with VIDEO], The Hindu, Time, Time Machine LA-7-TV [VIDEO], Gulf News, Irish Times, Economic Times (and another editorial), The Independent, The Street, INTER TV Ukraine [VIDEO], Dagens Nyheter, Business Daily, New Europe, Reader's Digest, Maxim, Dagbladet, Jeopardy!, BMJ, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Tages Anzeiger, Innovation Finance Observer [1 and 2], Clarin,San Diego Union-Tribune, KCAL-TV [video and video], Financieel Dagblad, Ping Pong Top [video], Dundee Courier, Science Life, ABC Radio National [video and, quite differently, audio], Gizomodo, Financial Times, Have I Got News for You [video], Japan Times, Ukraine Weekly Mirror, Mass High Tech, Nos por Ca [video], JoongAng, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The World [AUDIO], AOL News, Wall Street Journal [VIDEO], Chronicle [VIDEO], MSNBC [VIDEO], Reader's Digest, Nature Network, Der Spiegel, Live Science, ABC News [video], The Street, Times of India, Extreme Surprise [video], Popular Mechanics, How Things Work, Polityka, La Repubblica, Vancouver Sun, Livemint, Channel 4 News [video], Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, TG2 [Italy, with video], NOWNews [Taiwan, with video], La Recherche, Novayagazeta, Nature News, Montreal Gazette, China Youth Daily, L'Expression, El Nacional, Wall Street Journal, The Heights, FNN [Japan, with video], Network World, Upstreet, CBS News Sunday Morning [with video], MSN [in two parts: 1 and 2], ACS Chemical Biology, Associated Press, NTV [Russia, with video], Popular Science, El Spectador, The Age, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,Quest, New Scientist, Muy Interesante Junior, Nashua Telegraph, Montreal Gazette, Discovery Channel's Daily Planet [video report], The Sun, Noordelicht, Etiqueta Negra, National Business Review, The Sentinel, Agence France Presse, Wired News, Nature, BBC, Gulf News, Cambridge Chronicle, Shanghai Daily, Montreal Gazette, Blogcritics, CNN [with video], The Diamondback, Asahi Shimbun, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Financial Times, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner, The Washington Post, The Guardian, China Central Television [20-minute video report], Russkii Newsweek(1, 2, 3, 4), Asia-Pacific Perspectives, The Today Show, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Guardian, The Daily Yomiuri, Asahi Shimbun, CBS News (video and commentary), the New Zealand Herald, The New York Stringer, The New Indian Express, the BBC, and The Times of London, and more. Some thoughts, recent, recent, slightly less recent and otherwise, about the Igs, about some of the winners, about what they may have done, maybe. Science magazine ponders "How big a help is an Ig?"

Personal reminiscences of some participants:
Andre Geim in his official Nobel interview on the day he won a Nobel Prize in physics, ten years after winning an Ig Nobel Prize in physics, and on NPR [AUDIO] and The Guardian [AUDIO], Karl Halvor Teigen [VIDEO], Hideki Tanemura, part of the Wasabi Alarm invention team (and some business colleagues), Anna Wilkinson, Peter Snyder [VIDEO], Mirjam Tuk [AUDIO], Kate Clancy, Andrea Rapisarda, Elena Bodnar, Natasha Rosenberg [the original Miss Sweetie Poo], Miguel Apatiga, Dan Simons, Chittaranjan Andrade, Fumiaki Taguchi (1 and 2), Stephan Bolliger [audio], Elena Bodnar [video, newspaper, newspaper]. Paul Krugman, Peaco Todd, Robert Matthews, Steve Nadis, Dan Ariely and Francis Fesmire [video], Chuang-Ye Hong [video], Glenda Browne, Paul&Storm and Benoit Mandelbrot [video], Snively, Peter Barss, Francis Fesmire, Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow, Ramesh Balasubramaniam, Yukio Hirose, Kees Moeliker(a large PDF file), Kees Moeliker (again), Mark Benecke, Theodore Gray [with video] , Annalee Newitz, Max Sherman, Michael Berry, Buck Weimer, Ig Nobel newlyweds Lisa and Will, the Boston Mensa delegation, Ida Sabelis, Arnd Leike [with video], Lawrence Nyveen, Arvid Vatle, Karl Kruszelnicki, Gordon McNaughton.