APS News

Improbable Researchers Gather for 1995 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

Five Nobel Laureates, aided by children, scuba divers and a marching band, gathered at Harvard University on October 6 for the 1995 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, honoring people whose achievements "cannot or should not be reproduced." The Igs are presented each October by the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), which describes itself as "the journal of inflated research and personalities." This year's ceremony was co-sponsored by the Harvard Computer Society and by Tangents, the Harvard-Radcliffe mathematical bulletin.

The prizes were handed out by Nobel Laureates Sheldon Glashow (Physics '79), Dudley Herschbach (Chemistry '86), William Lipscomb (Chemistry '76), Joseph Murray (Physiology or Medicine '90) and Richard Roberts (Physiology or Medicine '93). Later in the evening, Herschbach was given away in the Win-a-Date-with-a-Nobel-Laureate contest. He also delivered one of the 30-second Heisenberg Certainty Lectures, along with Roberts, Tom and Ray Magliozzi of National Public Radio's "Car Talk" program, and Robert Kirshner, who chairs Harvard's Astronomy Department and is known by some as the "David Letterman of Astronomy."

In keeping with the DNA theme of this year's ceremony, the five Nobel Laureates paid tribute to deoxyribonucleic acid by collaborating to read a poem in the style of Dr. Seuss, "DNA and Green Eggs and Ham," and joined with the Nicola Hawkins Dance Company in the world premiere of "The Interpretive Dance of the Nucleotides." Robert Lopez, who won a 1994 Ig Nobel Prize for experimentally placing cat ear mites into his own ear, delivered the keynote address, Dare To Be Bold.

The ceremony was televised live around the world via the Internet, with assistance from AIR editorial board member Robert T. Morris, who developed a worm program that shut down the Internet several years ago, for which he was tried and convicted. It was also recorded for later broadcast on NPR's "Talk of Nation/Science Friday" program on the day after Thanksgiving.

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Barrett H. Ripin