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Improbable Researchers Gather for 1997 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

Some of the world's top scientists convened at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre for the 1996 Ig Nobel Prizes, presented at the Sixth First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, held October 3, 1996. The 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."

The event was reluctantly presented by The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) (which has been described as "the MAD Magazine of science"). The ceremony also featured the world premiere of "Lament Del Cockroach," a mini-opera for Nobel Laureates and mezzo-sopranos. The event was telecast live, worldwide, on the Internet, and recorded for later broadcast on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation/Science Friday" program, as well as the television network C-SPAN.

The 1996 honoree in physics was Robert Matthews of Aston University, England, for his studies of Murphy's Law, and especially for demonstrating that toast always falls on the buttered side. Other awards include: Peace-Jacques Chirac, President of France, for commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima with atomic tests in the pacific; Medicine-Tobacco company CEOs for their unshakable discovery, as testified to the U.S. Congress, that nicotine is not addictive; and in Art-Don Featherstone for the plastic pink flamingo. Additional information on the studies cited or on the ceremony itself can be obtained by sending email and/or visiting the AIR web site.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin