The 1996 Ig Nobel Prize Winners are Awarded at Harvard

Oct. 3, 1996. (Cambridge, MA) Here are the winners of the 1996 Ig Nobel Prizes, presented at the Sixth First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, held at Sanders Theater, Harvard University on Thursday evening, 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 (which has been described as "the MAD Magazine of science"). This year it was co-sponsored by the Harvard Computer Society, Tangents (the Harvard-Radcliffe mathematical bulletin), and the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association.

This year's ceremony was embroiled in controversy -- Sir Robert May, the science advisor to the British government, had asked the organizers to stop giving Ig Nobel Prizes to Scientsits, even when the scientists consented to receive them. Nevertheless, this year's Ig Nobel roster included yet another prizewinner from England.

This year's ceremony also featured the world premiere of "Lament Del Cockroach," a mini-opera for Nobel Laureates and mezzo- sopranos.

The Ceremony was telecast live, worldwide, on the Internet. And, for the fourth time, the ceremony was recorded for later broadcast on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation / Science Friday" program and on the television network C-SPAN.

Here are the 1996 Ig Nobel Prize winners:

BIOLOGY Anders Baerheim and Hogne Sandvik of the University of Bergen, Norway, for their tasty and tasteful report, "Effect of Ale, Garlic, and Soured Cream on the Appetite of Leeches." [The report was published in "British Medical Journal," vol. 309, Dec 24-31, 1994, p. 1689.] Drs. Baerheim and Sandvik sent a videotaped acceptance speech, and watched the ceremony live on the Internet. [For more info: Dr. Anders Baerheim, Division of General Practice, University of Bergen, Ulriksdal 8C, N-5009 Bergen, Norway.]

MEDICINE James Johnston of R.J. Reynolds, Joseph Taddeo of U.S. Tobaccco, Andrew Tisch of Lorillard, William Campbell of Philip Morris, and the late Thomas E. Sandefur, Jr., chairman of Brown and Williamson Tobacco Co. for their unshakable discovery, as testified to the US Congress, that nicotine is not addictive.

PHYSICS 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. [The report, "Tumbling toast, Murphy's Law and the fundamental constants" was published in "European Journal of Physics," vol.16, no.4, July 18, 1995, p. 172-6.] Professor Matthews sent an audiotaped acceptance speech. [For more info: Prof. Robert Matthews, Dept. of Appl. Math. & Comput. Sci., Aston University, Birmingham, UK]

PEACE Jacques Chirac, President of France, for commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of Hiroshima with atomic bomb tests in the Pacific.

PUBLIC HEALTH Ellen Kleist of Nuuk, Greenland and Harald Moi of Oslo, Norway, for their cautionary medical report "Transmission of Gonorrhea Through an Inflatable Doll." [The report was published in "Genitourinary Medicine," vol. 69, no. 4, Aug. 1993, p. 322.] Dr. Moi travelling from Oslo to Cambridge -- at his own expense -- to accept the Prize. While in Massachusetts he will also deliver a lecture at Harvard Medical School about his achievement. [More info: (1) E. Kleist, Nanortalik Hospital Nanortalik, Greenland. (2) Dr. H. Moi, Olafiaklinikken, Center for STD and HIV, Postuttak, Gronland PK, N-0133 OSLO, Norway, (47) 22082983, FAX: (47) 22082990]

CHEMISTRY George Goble of Purdue University, for his blistering world record time for igniting a barbeque grill-three seconds, using charcoal and liquid oxygen. Professor Goble's colleague Joe Cychosz traveled to Cambridge to accept the Prize. [For more info: Prof. George H. Goble, Electrical Engineering Dept., Purdue University, 1285 Electrical Engineering, West Lafayette, IN 47907. <ghg{Sostituisci con chiocciola}ecn.purdue.edu> http://ghg.ecn.purdue.edu/

BIODIVERSITY Chonosuke Okamura of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory in Nagoya, Japan, for discovering the fossils of dinosaurs, horses, dragons, princesses, and more than 1000 other extinct "mini-species," each of which is less than 1/100 of an inch in length. [For details see the series "Reports of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory," published by the Okamura Fossil Laboratory in Nagoya, Japan during the 1970's and 1980's.] [Summaries of Okamura's work appear in "The Annals of Improbable Research," vol. 1, no. 4, Jul/Aug 1995) and vol.2, no. 4, Jul/Aug 1996. For more info about Okamura: Earle Spamer, Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benj. Franklin Pkwy., Philadelphia PA 19103 (215) 299-1000.]

LITERATURE The editors of the journal "Social Text," for eagerly publishing research that they could not understand, that the author said was meaningless, and which claimed that reality does not exist. [The paper was "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity," Alan Sokal, "Social Text," Spring/Summer 1996, pp. 217-252.]

ECONOMICS Dr. Robert J. Genco of the University of Buffalo for his discovery that "financial strain is a risk indicator for destructive periodontal disease."

ART Don Featherstone of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, for his ornamentally evolutionary invention, the plastic pink flamingo. Mr. Featherstone is traveled to Cambridge to accept the Prize. [For more info: Don Featherstone, Vice President, Union Products, 73 Congress St., Fitchburg MA 01420, 508-537-1631]

The public can obtain details about the ceremony by sending e-mail to INFO{Sostituisci con chiocciola}IMPROB.COM and/or visiting the AIR web site

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