Ig Nobel Prize

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The Ig Nobel Prizes are a parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early fall — a week or two before the recipients of the genuine Nobel Prizes are announced — for ten achievements that "cannot, or should not, be reproduced". Sponsored by the scientific humor journal Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), they are presented by genuine Nobel Laureates at a ceremony in Harvard University's Sanders Theatre.

The first Ig Nobels were awarded in 1991. The awards are sometimes veiled criticism — as in the two awards given for homeopathy research — but more often drawn attention to scientific articles that have some funny or unexpected aspect. Examples range from the discovery that the presence of humans tends to sexually arouse ostriches, to the statement that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements to be the location of Hell, to research on the "five-second rule," a tongue-in-cheek belief that food dropped on the floor won't become contaminated if it is picked up within five seconds.

The name is a pun on the word "ignoble" and the name Nobel Prize. The official pronunciation used during the ceremony is "ig no-BELL", not "ig-noble", but this distinction eludes many people.

The ceremony is followed a few days later by the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT, in which laureates have opportunity to explain their achievements and their relevance to the general public.

The annual ceremony is co-sponsored by the Harvard Computer Society, the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students.

With the exception of three prizes in the first year (see Administratium, Josiah Carberry, and Paul DeFanti), and the archeology one in 1992 (see Meyrieres Cave), all Ig Nobel Prizes have been for genuine achievements.

Contents

Tours and outreach

Unlike the Darwin Awards, whose aim is strictly to entertain, the aim of the Ig Nobel is also to arouse public interest in science. AIR Editor Marc Abrahams describes the awards as being designed "to make you laugh, and then to make you think."

The ceremony is recorded and broadcast on National Public Radio and is shown live over the Internet. Two books have been published as of 2004 with writeups on some of the winners: ISBN 0-75285-150-0 (hardback) and ISBN 0-75284-261-7 (paperback).

The Ig Nobel Tour performed shows in Britain during National Science Week; it has also traveled to other countries, including Australia.

Criticism

In 1995, Sir Robert May, the chief scientific advisor to the British government, requested that the organizers no longer award Ig Nobel prizes to British scientists, claiming that the awards risked bringing "genuine" experiments into ridicule. May was roundly criticized by the British press, and his request was ignored.

Prize categories

Prizes have been awarded annually since 1991 for achievements in many categories. They include the Nobel Prize areas of physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, literature, and peace but also other categories such as public health, engineering, biology, and interdisciplinary research.

See also

External links

es:Premio Ig Nobel eo:Ig-Nobel-Premio fr:Prix Ig Nobel ko:이그노벨 상 it:Premio Ig Nobel nl:Ig Nobel prijs ja:イグノーベル賞 ru:Шнобелевская премия

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