1993 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 93 18:30:35 PDT
Subject: 1993 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
From: elshaw@MIT.EDU (Libby Shaw)
The Third First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Award Ceremony took place last night
in Kresge Auditorium at MIT and fun was had. This year the whole, while
still pretty chaotic, came substantially closer than last year's event to
equalling the sum of its parts.
That had a lot to do with the on-stage contributions of Deborah
Conant-Henson, a beautiful and talented jazz harpist who with humorous
presence of mind, and occasionally with accompaniment from an organist and
some brass, provided interlude music whenever things slowed down and theme
music whenever things needed some focussing. Her fetching black-and-red
bustier helped, too.
To my mind the high points were three: 1) the opening pageant of Honored
Guests, (kind of a nerdy mini whatsis-Bowl parade--you know, the one in LA
with the lawnmower drill corps); 2) the speech by Russell Johnson, Professor
Emeritus of Gilligan's Island, who was one of the invited Authority Figures,
and 3) the touching demonstration of solidarity accompanying the awarding
of the Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine, described below.
The formal arrival of the King and Queen of Swedish Meatballs was very
nicely done this year. They arrived in state in the freight elevator at
the rear of the stage, accompanied by a bodyguard, lots of stage smoke and
bright pink backlighting.
The Professor from Gilligan's Island got a huge, warm welcome from the crowd
when he stepped up to the podium to speak. At one point in the speech he
said, "People always ask me..." "Did the Professor and Mary Ann ever do the
Wild Thing!" hollered someone from the back of the audience. When the
pandemonium died down, someone else over to the right hollered, "And the
The Professor smiled enigmatically and continued. "People always ask me
how the Professor was able to make a radio from a coconut but couldn't get
us off the island. Well, one of the Professor's degrees was from this
institution. That is probably why he was able to make a radio from a
coconut...but couldn't get us off the island." It brought the house down.
An edited version of the awards ceremony is going to be broadcast on NPR's
Talk of the Nation sometime soon.
[If anyone knows when, let me know and I'll circulate it. -psl]
Here's the press release from last night, with some comments from me [Libby]
***asterisked. Due to my less than perfect memory, statements in quotes
may be only approximate.
THE 1993 IG NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS
Cambridge, MA, Oct. 7, 1993: The winners of the 1993 Ig Nobel Prizes were
announced today in a ceremony held at MIT. The Prizes honor individuals
whose achievements cannot or should not be reproduced. The ceremony is
produced by The Journal of Irreproducible Results and The MIT Museum.
Eleven Ig Nobel Prizes were given this year. The winners come from 16
different countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany,
Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines,
Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.
The new winners:
John Mack of Harvard Medical School and David Jacobs of Temple University,
mental visionaries, for their leaping conclusion that people who believe
they were kidnapped by aliends from outer space, probably were -- and
especially for their conclusion that, in Professor Jacobs's words, "the
focus of the abduction is the production of children." [Both Mack and Jacobs
have written and spoken extensively on the subject. A good introduction is
the book "Secret Life," by David Jacobs with an introduction by John Mack,
Simon and Schuster, New York, 1992.]
***Accepting for the two researchers was the Assistant DA of Massachusetts,
who read a prepared statement in a deadpan Dragnet voice: "Kidnapping is
a serious crime punishable by a long incarceration in prison. Over two
hundred people were kidnapped in Massachusetts in 1992. There is no
evidence that any of these victims were kidnapped by aliens."
Ron Popeil, incessant inventor and perpetual pitchman of late night
television, for redefining the industrial revolution with such devices as
the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, the Cap Snaffler, Mr. Microphone,
the the Inside-the -Shell Egg Scrambler.
***Accepting for Mr. Popeil was a late-night TV watcher with a shopping bag
full of the things he'd bought from Mr. Popeil. Screaming his enthusiasm
into the microphone, he had to be wrestled off the stage by the Official Ig
Nobel Awards Ceremony Referee.
Paul Williams, Jr. of the Oregon State Health Division and Kenneth W.
Newell of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, bold biological
detectives, for their pioneering study, "Salmonella Excretion in Joy-Riding
Pigs." [The study was published in "The American Journal of Public Health."
vol. 60, no. 5, May, 1970. Kenneth Newell died in March, 1990.]
***This presentation was a mite confused. Slides of pigs in costumes were
shown while Dr. Williams accepted the award.
Ravi Batra of Southern Methodist University, shrewd economist and
Best-selling author of "The Great Depression of 1990: ($17.95) and
"Surviving the Great Depression of 1990: ($18.95), for selling enough copies
of his books to single-handedly prevent worldwide economic collapse.
***Accepting on behalf of Mr. Batra was a professor from MIT's economics
department who noted that if you add up all the imports and exports for all
countries in the world there is a huge plantetary trade deficit, presumably
due to trade with aliens.
The Pepsi-Cola Company of the Phillipines, suppliers of sugary hopes and
dreams, for sponsoring a contest to create a millionaire, and then
announcing the wrong winning number, thereby inciting and uniting 800,000
riotously expectant winners, and bringing many warring factions together
for the first time in their nation's history.
***I can't remember who accepted on behalf of Pepsi.
Presented jointly to Jay Schiffman of Farmington Hills, Michigan, crack
inventor of AutoVision, an image projection device that makes it possible
to drive a car and watch television at the same time, and to the Michigan
state legislature, for making it legal to do so. [Michigan House Bill 4530,
Public Act #55 was signed into law by the Governor on June 6, 1991.]
***Mr. Schiffman declined to accept the award with the words (projected onto
a screen on the stage), "I can't imagine what good accepting this award
would do my company." Accepting on behalf of Mr. Schiffman was a group
representing an opposing point of view, Michigan Mothers Against Driving
While Watching TV.
James Campbell and Gaines Campbell of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, dedicated
deliverers of fragrance, for inventing scent strips, the odious method by
which perfume is applied to magazine pages. [Additional historical
information about the invention of schent strips can be obtained from the
Campbells' former colleague, Ronald Versic, President of the Ronald P. Dodge
Company in Dayton, OH.]
***Ronald Versic accepted the award in person, wearing a pink Pepe le Pew
tie and squirting out into the audience a scent he prepared especially for
the occasion, Eau de Boston Harbor.
At the specific request of the chairman of the SLD high energy physics
research group, the 1993 Ig Nobel Literature Prize is NOT being awarded to
him and his 405 co-authors for their research paper, "First Measurement of
the Left-Right Cross Section Asymmetry in Z Boson Production by e+ e-
Collisions," Physical Review Letters, Volume 70, number 17, April 26, 1993.
Awarded jointly to E. Topol, R. Califf, F. Van de Werf, P.W. Armstrong, and
their 972 co-authors, for publishing a medical research paper which has ten
times as many authors as pages. [Source "An International Randomized Trial
Comparing Four Thrombolytic Strategies for Acute Myocardial Infarction,"
The New England Journal of Medicine, volume 329, number 10, September 2,
1993, pages 673-682.
The co-authors come from 15 different nations: Australia, Belgium, Canada,
England, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New
Zealand, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States.]
***this award was graciously accepted by the executive editor of the NEJM.
She estimated there was one author for every two words in the article, and
expressed the hope that this publication is helping them all get grants and
Robert Faid of Greenville, South Carolina, farsighted and faithful seer of
statistics, for calculating the exact odds (8,606,091,751,882:1) that
Mikhail Gorbachev is the Antichrist. [Faid's complete calculation is
contained in the book "Gorbachev! Has the Real Antichrist Come?" published
by Vicory House, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The pertinent section of the book was
reprinted in the January, 1989 issue of Harper's Magazine.]
***Sorry, I don't remember who accepted this award for Mr. Faid.
Louis Kervran of France, ardent admirer of alchemy, for his conclusion that
the calcium in chickens' eggshells is created by a process of cold fusion.
[For an English language version of Kervran's research see the book
"Biological Transmutations, and their applications in chemistry, physics,
biology, ecology, medicine, nutrition, agriculture, geology" by Louis
Kervran, Swan House Publiching Co., 1972.]
***This award was accepted on Mr. Kervran's behalf by a member of MIT's
Plasma Fusion Center, who explained that Mr. Kervran had a dream which
revealed to him: fuse silicon (Z = 14) with carbon (Z = 6) and you get
calcium (Z = 20)! For that matter, fuse potassium (19) with hydrogen (1)
and you get calcium! This answers a question long in my own mind, where do
moose and deer get all the calcium they need to make those antlers every
James F. Nolan, Thomas J. Stillwell, and John P. Sands, Jr., medical men of
mercy, for their painstaking research report, "Acute Management of the
Zipper-Entrapped Penis." [Nolan is Associate in Urology at the Guthrie
Clinic in Sayre, PA. Stillwell is in private practice at North Urology,
Ltd., in Robbinsdale, NH. Sands is Chairman of the Department of Urology,
Naval Hospital, San Diego, CA. Their report was published in "The Journal
of Emergency Medicine," vol. 8, 1990.]
***Dr. Nolan accepted the award in person, wearing his lab coat. He was
genial and blond, with an amazing resemblance to Dan Quayle. He is now
working on a project related to human injuries associated with farm animals,
***His award was followed by the appearance on stage of a group of men, many
wearing sweatpants, who called themselves something like "Men in Recovery
from Zipper-Related Injury". Clearly moved, they locked arms and sang a
touching song of mutual support to the tune of "We Are the World."
Press contacts for more information:
Kathleen Thurston-Lightly, Assistant Director
265 Mass Ave, Cambridge MA 02139
Marc Abrahams, Editor
The Journal of Irreproducible Results
PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238
© 1993 Peter Langston