Campus & Community

Don’t IgNore it! It’s Ig Nobel time again

2 min read

The never-before-seen, the never-before-heard, the never-before-endured mini-opera “Inertia Makes the World Go Around” will be the centerpiece of this year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony. The event, which takes place on Oct. 5 at Sanders Theatre, honors original scientific research from around the globe that distinguishes itself through … well, that achieves a certain … well … that is recognized eventually by the Ig Nobel awards. Or as one scribe put it, research will be honored for achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.

Amid colorful costumes, silly cheers, sincere jeers, brickbats, bricks, bats, and clouds of paper airplanes, the winners will have their awards presented to them by actual Nobel laureates with time on their hands. This year’s presenters include Roy Glauber (physics, 2005); Dudley Herschbach (chemistry, 1986); the International Atomic Energy Agency, represented by spokesperson Melissa Fleming (peace, 2005); William Lipscomb (chemistry, 1976); Richard Roberts (physiology or medicine, 2003); and Frank Wilczek (physics, 2004).

Last year’s Ig Nobel prize winners included the inventor of an alarm clock that runs away and hides repeatedly; the writer of the scholarly study, “The Significance of Mr. Richard Buckley’s Exploding Trousers”; and the researchers who determined whether people swim faster in syrup than in water. Previous Igs honored a centrifugal-force birthing machine that spins pregnant women at high speed; Britain’s official six-page specification for how to make a cup of tea; the Australian patent (granted in 2001) for the wheel; and the inventor of karaoke.

This year’s gala evening celebrates inertia and will include, in addition to the awarding of the Ig Nobel Prizes, the following events:

• “Inertia Makes the World Go Around,” a new mini-opera about two sisters, one who is at rest and tends to stay at rest, the other who is in motion and tends to stay that way. It will star opera singers Margot Button and Gina Beck, and the Nobel laureates.

• The “24/7 Lectures,” in which several of the world’s top thinkers each explain their subjects twice – first in 24 seconds, then in seven words.

• The Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest

• The Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony is organized by the science humor magazine ‘Annals of Improbable Research’ (AIR), in cooperation with several Harvard student groups.