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The 2002 Ig Nobel Prizes

The 2002 Ig Nobel Prizes, presented for achievements that "cannot or should not be reproduced," were awarded at Harvard's historic Sanders Theatre in early October before 1200 spectators in a ceremony filled with lab coats, opera singers, paper airplanes, and a barking dog.

Seven of the ten new winners journeyed to Harvard-at their own expense-to accept their Prizes.

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.

The evening also featured numerous tributes to the evening's theme of "Jargon." Foremost were the 24/7 Seminars-lectures in which famous scientists explained their field of research, first in twenty-four (24) seconds, and then in seven (7) words.

The night also featured the premiere of a new mini-opera called "The Jargon Opera," which starred professional opera singers and the Nobel Laureates, and a pre-ceremony concert by the Brechtian-punk- physics band The Dresden Dolls.

Marc Abrahams, master of ceremonies (and editor of the Annals of Improbable Research) closed the ceremony with the traditional, "If you didn't win an Ig Nobel prize tonight-and especially if you did- better luck next year." For more information, see www.improbable.com.

And the winners are:

BIOLOGY. Norma E. Bubier, Charles G.M. Paxton, Phil Bowers, and D. Charles Deeming of the United Kingdom, for their report "Courtship Behaviour of Ostriches Towards Humans Under Farming Conditions in Britain."

PHYSICS. Arnd Leike of the University of Munich, for demonstrating that beer froth obeys the mathematical Law of Exponential Decay.

INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH. Karl Kruszelnicki of The University of Sydney, for performing a comprehensive survey of human belly button lint -who gets it, when, what color, and how much.

CHEMISTRY. Theo Gray of Wolfram Research, in Champaign, Illinois, for gathering many elements of the periodic table, and assembling them into the form of a four-legged periodic table.

MATHEMATICS. K.P. Sree-kumar and the late G. Nirmalan of Kerala Agricultural University, India, for their analytical report "Estimation of the Total Surface Area in Indian Elephants."

LITERATURE. Vicki L. Silvers of the University of Nevada-Reno and David S. Kreiner of Missouri State University, for their colorful report "The Effects of Pre-Existing Inappropriate Highlighting on Reading Comprehension."

PEACE. Keita Sato, President of Takara Co., Dr. Matsumi Suzuki, President of Japan Acoustic Lab, and Dr. Norio Kogure, Executive Director, Kogure Veterinary Hospital, for promoting peace and harmony between the species by inventing Bow-Lingual, a computer-based automatic dog-to-human language translation device.

HYGIENE. Eduardo Segura, of Lavakan de Aste, in Tarragona, Spain, for inventing a washing machine for cats and dogs.

ECONOMICS. The executives, corporate directors, and auditors of Enron, Lernaut & Hausbie [Belgium], Adelphia, Bank of Commerce and Credit International [Pakistan], Cendant, CMS Energy, Duke Energy, Dynegy, Gazprom [Russia], Global Crossing, HIH Insurance [Australia], Informix, Kmart, Maxwell Communications [UK], McKessonHBOC, Merrill Lynch, Merck, Peregrine Systems, Qwest Communications, Reliant Resources, Rent-Way, Rite Aid, Sunbeam, Tyco, Waste Management, WorldCom, Xerox, and Arthur Andersen, for adapting the mathematical concept of imaginary numbers for use in the business world. [NOTE: all companies are US-based unless otherwise noted].

MEDICINE. Chris McManus of University College London, for his excruciatingly balanced report, "Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and in Ancient Sculpture."

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette