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Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science

2001 Ig Nobel Prizes

The 2001 Ig Nobel Prizes, presented for achievements that "cannot or should not be reproduced," were awarded at Harvard's historic Sanders Theatre on October 4 before 1,200 spectators, in a ceremony filled with labcoats, opera singers, paper airplanes, nuptial paraphernalia, and Joseph Stalin masks.

The evening concluded with the wedding on stage of two scientists, Lisa Danielson and Will Stefanov, who are both geologists based at Arizona State University. The wedding ceremony was performed in sixty seconds and was preceded by the premiere of a new mini-opera ("The Wedding Complex") performed by professional opera singers and five Nobel Laureates. The event was produced by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), and co-sponsored by the Harvard Computer Society, the Harvard- Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students.

Here are the new winners:

MEDICINE: Peter Barss of McGill University, for his impactful medical report "Injuries Due to Falling Coconuts."

PHYSICS: David Schmidt of the University of Massachusetts for his partial solution to the question of why shower curtains billow inwards.

BIOLOGY: Buck Weimer of Pueblo, Colorado for inventing Under-Ease, airtight underwear with a replaceable charcoal filter that removes bad-smelling gases before they escape.

ECONOMICS: Joel Slemrod, of the University of Michigan Business School, and Wojciech Kopczuk, of University of British Columbia, for their conclusion that people would find a way to postpone their deaths if that would qualify them for a lower rate on the inheritance tax.

LITERATURE: John Richards of Boston, England, founder of The Apostrophe Protection Society, for his efforts to protect, promote, and defend the differences between plural and possessive.

PSYCHOLOGY: Lawrence W. Sherman of Miami University, Ohio, for his influential research report "An Ecological Study of Glee in Small Groups of Preschool Children."

ASTROPHYSICS: Dr. Jack and Rexella Van Impe of Jack Van Impe Ministries, Rochester Hills, Michigan, for their discovery that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements to be the location of Hell.

PEACE: Viliumas Malinauskus of Grutas, Lithuania, for creating the amusement park known as "Stalin World."

TECHNOLOGY: Awarded jointly to John Keogh of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, for patenting the wheel in the year 2001, and to the Australian Patent Office for granting him Innovation Patent #2001100012.

PUBLIC HEALTH: Chittaranjan Andrade and B. S. Srihari of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India, for their probing medical discovery that nose picking is a common activity among adolescents.

For more information, see http://www.improbable.com.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette