The 1997 Ig ® Nobel PrizeCeremony
PHOTO, RIGHT -- Lois Malone, escorted by Ig Nobel Majordomo Gary Dryfoos,prepares to deliver the traditional "Welcome, Welcome" speech.
The 1997 Ig Nobel Prize CeremonyA new crop of Ig Nobel Prizewinners was honored at the Seventh First AnnualIg Nobel Prize Ceremony, held before a paper-airplane-throwing selloutcrowd of 1200 in Harvard University's Sanders Theatre on October 9, 1997.A good-natured spoof of science and the Nobel Prizes, the ceremony honorspeople whose achievements "cannot or should not be reproduced."
The 1997 Igs was seen by more people than ever before due to our liveinternet broadcast. The event was also recorded, and a special editedbroadcaston National Public Radio. The RealAudioversion of the broadcast is now available!
The event was presented by The Annalsof Improbable Research (which has been described as "the MAD Magazineof science"). It was co-sponsored by the Harvard-RadcliffeScience Fiction Association, the HarvardComputer Society, and the brand new book "TheBest of Annals of Improbable Research", Marc Abrahams editor, publishedby W. H. Freeman, ISBN 0716730944, priced reasonably at 14.95.
PHOTO,RIGHT -- In the mini-opera "Il Grosso Kaboom," a lovely immense galaxy(played by mezzo-soprano Margot Button) complains, to the music of Puccini,that certain other galaxies are gossiping about her. According to rumor,her shape is "much too perfect," and there must be some "missingmass" that holds her together.
The 1997 Winners:
- T. Yagyu and his colleagues from the University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland,from Kansai Medical University in Osaka, Japan, and from Neuroscience TechnologyResearch in Prague, Czech Republic, for measuring people's brainwave patternswhile they chewed different flavors of gum. [Published as "Chewing gumflavor affects measures of global complexity of multichannel EEG," T. Yagyu,et al., "Neuropsychobiology," vol. 35, 1997, pp. 46-50.]
- Mark Hostetlerof the University of Florida, for his scholarly book, "ThatGunk on Your Car", which identifies the insect splats that appear onautomobile window. [The book is published by Ten Speed Press.]
- Richard Hoaglandof New Jersey, for identifying artificial features on the moon and on Mars,including a human face on Mars and ten-mile high buildings on the far sideof the moon. [For details, see "The Monuments of Mars : A City on the Edgeof Forever,"by Richard C. Hoagland,North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA,1996.]
- Sanford Wallace, president of Cyber Promotions of Philadelphia -- neitherrain nor sleet nor dark of night have stayed this self-appointed courierfrom delivering electronic junk mail to all the world. Those wishing tosend congratulatory notes can address them to: Cyber Promotions, 1255 PassmoreSt Philadelphia, PA 19111 USA.
- John Bockris of Texas A&M University, for his wide- ranging achievementsin cold fusion, in the transmutation of base elements into gold, and inthe electrochemical incineration of domestic rubbish.
- Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips and Yoav Rosenberg of Israel, and Michael Drosninof the United States, for their hairsplitting statistical discovery thatthe bible contains a secret, hidden code. [Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg,'soriginal research was published as "Equidistant Letter Sequences in theBook of Genesis," Statistical Science, Vol. 9, No. 3, 1994, pp. 429- 38.Drosnin's popular book, "The Bible Code," was published by Simon &Schuster.]
- Carl J. Charnetski and Francis X. Brennan, Jr. of Wilkes University, andJames F. Harrison of Muzak Ltd. in Seattle, Washington, for their discoverythat listeningto elevator Muzak stimulates immunoblobulin A (IgA) production, andthus may help prevent the common cold.
- Akihiro Yokoi of Wiz Company in Chiba, Japan and Aki Maita of Bandai Companyin Tokyo, the father and mother of Tamagotchi, for diverting millions ofperson-hours of work into the husbandry of virtual pets.
- Harold Hillman of the University of Surrey, England for his lovingly renderedand ultimately peaceful report "The Possible Pain Experienced During Executionby Different Methods." [Published in "Perception 1993," vol 22, pp. 745-53.]
- Bernard Vonnegut of the State University of Albany, for his revealing report,"Chicken Plucking as Measure of Tornado Wind Speed." [Published in "Weatherwise,"October 1975, p. 217.]
PHOTO, RIGHT -- In the denoument of the mini-opera, welearn that the universe is held together by billions and billions of teeny,tiny subatomic particles -- neutrinos, to be specific. The heroic neutrinosare played by (left to right) Nobel Laureates Richard Roberts, Dudley Herschbach,Robert Wilson, and William Lipscomb.
PHOTO, RIGHT -- One of the Heisenberg Certainty Lectureswas delivered jointly by Roberts, Herschbach, Wilson, and Lipscomb. Theyexceeded the 30-second time limit, and were ejected by referee John Barrett.
Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, William Lipscomb, Richard Roberts, andRobert Wilson handed the prizes to the winners, and were active in manyother ways. Lipscomb was given away in a Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-LaureateContest. Plaster casts of the left feet of Lipscomb and Herschbach, andalso that of fellow Nobel Laureate Walter Gilbert, were auctioned off forthe benefit of the Cambridge public schools science programs. All the laureates,and Reverend Peter Gomes of Harvard, joined soprano Margot Button and BaritoneBenjamin Sears in the world premiere of a new mini-opera ("IlKaboom Grosso") about the big bang.
Following in a long tradition of proud Ig Nobel Prize winners,EntomologyPrize Winner Mark Hostetler travelled to Harvard to accept his Prize.The other winners could not, or would not, be present.
Meteorology Prize Winner Bernard Vonnegut(the older brother of novelist Kurt Vonnegut) passed away in the springof 1997; however, his son Peter came to the ceremony to accept the prizein his name.
PHOTO, RIGHT -- Dudley Herschbach and scientist/supermodel Symmetraperform a cymbalic duet. Reverend Peter Gomes (seated) , of Harvard's MemorialChurch, prepares for his starring role, a bit later in the evening, inAct 1 of "Il Grosso Kaboom." In that mini-opera, Gomes fulfilled a lifelongambition to smoke a cigar with God.