The Ig Nobel Prize
The Sixth First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was held on Thursday evening, October 3, 1996 (by the Gregorian calendar), at Harvard's Sanders Theater. Prizes were handed out by genuine Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, William Lipscomb and others. A good-natured spoof of science and the Nobel Prizes, the ceremony honors people whose achievements "cannot or should not be reproduced."
- Anders Baerheim and Hogne Sandvik of the University of Bergen, Norway, for their tasty and tasteful report, Effect of Ale, Garlic, and Soured Cream on the Appetite of Leeches. [The report was published in "British Medical Journal," vol. 309, Dec 24-31, 1994, p. 1689.] Drs. Baerheim and Sandvik sent a videotaped acceptance speech, and watched the ceremony live on the Internet.
- James Johnston of R.J. Reynolds, Joseph Taddeo of U.S. Tobaccco, Andrew Tisch of Lorillard, William Campbell of Philip Morris, and the late Thomas E. Sandefur, Jr., chairman of Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co. for their unshakable discovery, as testified to the US Congress, that nicotine is not addictive.
- Robert Matthews of Aston University, England, for his studies of Murphy's Law, and especially for demonstrating that toast has a bias towards falling buttered-side down. [The report, "Tumbling toast, Murphy's Law and the fundamental constants" was published in "European Journal of Physics," vol.16, no.4, July 18, 1995, p. 172-6.] Professor Matthews sent an audiotaped acceptance speech.
- Jacques Chirac, President of France, for commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Hiroshima with atomic bomb tests in the Pacific.
- PUBLIC HEALTH
- Ellen Kleist of Nuuk, Greenland and Harald Moi of Oslo, Norway, for their cautionary medical report "Transmission of Gonorrhea Through an Inflatable Doll." [The report was published in "Genitourinary Medicine," vol. 69, no. 4, Aug. 1993, p. 322.] Dr. Moi traveled from Oslo to Cambridge -- at his own expense -- to accept the Prize. While in Massachusetts also delivered a lecture at Harvard Medical School about his achievement.
- George Goble of Purdue University, for his blistering world record time for igniting a barbeque grill-three seconds, using charcoal and liquid oxygen. Professor Goble's colleague Joe Cychosz traveled to Cambridge to accept the Prize.
- Chonosuke Okamura of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory in Nagoya, Japan, for discovering the fossils of dinosaurs, horses, dragons, princesses, and more than 1000 other extinct "mini-species," each of which is less than 1/100 of an inch in length. [For details see the series "Reports of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory," published by the Okamura Fossil Laboratory in Nagoya, Japan during the 1970's and 1980's.]
- The editors of the journal "Social Text," for eagerly publishing research that they could not understand, that the author said was meaningless, and which claimed that reality does not exist. [The paper was "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity," Alan Sokal, "Social Text," Spring/Summer 1996, pp. 217-252.]
- Dr. Robert J. Genco of the University of Buffalo for his discovery that "financial strain is a risk indicator for destructive periodontal disease."
- Don Featherstone of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, for his ornamentally evolutionary invention, the plastic pink flamingo. Mr. Featherstone is traveled to Cambridge to accept the Prize.