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Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science

The 2004 Ig Nobel Prizes

The 2004 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded at Harvard University's historic Sanders Theatre before 1200 spectators.

The evening featured the 24/7—Lectures—in which famous thinkers 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 Atkins Diet Opera," which starred professional opera singers Wayne Hobbs, Margot Button, and Jane Tankersley, who were joined in the rousing conclusion by all of the scientists on stage. For more info see http://www.improbable.com/ig/2004/2004-details.html

Steven Stack of Wayne State University [Detroit, Michigan, USA] and James Gundlach of Auburn University [Auburn, Alabama, USA] for their published report "The Effect of Country Music on Suicide."

Ramesh Balasubramaniam of the University of Ottawa, and Michael Turvey of the University of Connecticut and Yale University, for exploring and explaining the dynamics of hula-hooping.

Public Health
Jillian Clarke of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences (and then Howard University, Washington, DC), for investigating the scientific validity of the Five-Second Rule about whether it's safe to eat food that's been dropped on the floor.

The Coca-Cola Company of Great Britain, for using advanced technology to convert liquid from the River Thames into Dasani, a transparent form of water, which for precautionary reasons has been made unavailable to consumers.

Donald J. Smith and his father, the late Frank J. Smith, of Orlando Florida, USA, for patenting the combover (US Patent #4,022,227).

The American Nudist Research Library of Kissimmee, Florida, USA, for preserving nudist history so that everyone can see it.

Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Christopher Chabris of Harvard University, for demonstrating that when people pay close attention to something, it's all too easy to overlook anything else—even a man in a gorilla suit.

The Vatican, for outsourcing prayers to India.

Daisuke Inoue of Hyogo, Japan, for inventing karaoke, thereby providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other.

Ben Wilson of the University of British Columbia, Lawrence Dill of Simon Fraser University [Canada], Robert Batty of the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Magnus Whalberg of the University of Aarhus [Denmark], and Hakan Westerberg of Sweden's National Board of Fisheries, for showing that herrings apparently communicate by farting.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette