Fun_People Archive
31 Oct
Bits o' mini-AIR Oct 97 -- The 1997 Ig Winners, etc.

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 97 00:52:00 -0800
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Subject: Bits o' mini-AIR Oct 97 -- The 1997 Ig Winners, etc.

From: Marc Abrahams <>
Excerpted-from: mini-AIR Oct 97 -- The 1997 Ig Winners, etc.

This is mini-AIR, a free monthly *supplement* to the print
magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR).

1997-10-04	Million Microbe March

We are proud to announce the Million Microbe March. On December 29, 1997,
a crowd of one million microbes will converge on Bethesda, Maryland. They
will meet there on the lawn of the National Institutes of Health, and spend
the entire day expressing solidarity, atonement, and genes.
    This is NOT going to be a celebration of diversity. While it is true
that microbes have participated in the Million Man March, the Million Woman
March, the Promisekeepers' March, and other anthropocentric marches, the
Million Microbe March is just for microbes.
    There is a large spiritual aspect to the March. Too long have too many
denied the spiritual nature of the microbial community. Too often have
microbes been tormented or killed because otherwise compassionate beings
denied the simple fact that microbes have souls.
    We ask you to please remember the official slogan of the Million Microbe
March. If you or one near to you is going on the March, please chant the
slogan long, loud, and often:
    Small is beautiful. Small is beautiful. Small is beautiful.

1997-10-05	The 1997 Ig Winners

A new crop of Ig Nobel Prizewinners was honored at the Seventh First Annual
Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, held on October 9 before a paper-airplane-throwing
standing-room-only crowd of 1200 in Harvard University's Sanders Theatre.
The event was produced by the the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), and
co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and the
Harvard Computer Society and by the new book "The Best of Annals of
Improbable Research" (ISBN 0-7167-3094-4).
    The Prizes honor achievements that "cannot or should not be reproduced."
    The Prizes were physically handed to the winners by several genuine
Nobel Laureates, including Dudley Herschbach, William Lipscomb, Richard
Roberts, and Robert Wilson. A worldwide audience watched via a live Internet
telecast. (The event was also recorded, and will be broadcast on National
Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation / Science Friday" program on November
28, the day after American Thanksgiving.)
    The Nobel Laureates were active throughout the evening, in many ways.
Lipscomb was given away in a Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel- Laureate Contest.
Plaster casts of the left feet of Lipscomb and Herschbach, and also that of
fellow Nobel Laureate Walter Gilbert, were auctioned off for the benefit of
the Cambridge public schools science programs. All the laureates joined
soprano Margot Button and Baritone Benjamin Sears in the world premiere of
a new mini- opera ("Il Kaboom Grosso") about the big bang.
    Foremost among the eight Heisenberg Certainty Lecturers was Boston
University Chancellor John Silber. Dr. Silber's topic was "A History of Free
Speech from Early Times to the Present." Dr.  Silber exceeded the 30-second
Heisenberg time limit, and was ejected by the referee.
    Here is a list of the 1997 Ig winners:

BIOLOGY: T. Yagyu and his colleagues from the University Hospital of Zurich,
Switzerland, from Kansai Medical University in Osaka, Japan, and from
Neuroscience Technology Research in Prague, Czech Republic, for measuring
people's brainwave patterns while they chewed different flavors of gum.
[Published as "Chewing gum flavor affects measures of global complexity of
multichannel EEG," T.  Yagyu, et al., "Neuropsychobiology," vol. 35, 1997,
pp. 46-50.]

ENTOMOLOGY: Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida, for his scholarly
book, "That Gunk on Your Car," which identifies the insect splats that
appear on automobile window. [The book is published by Ten Speed Press. Mark
Hostetler came to the ceremony to accept the prize. He also delivered a talk
the following day at the Ig Informal Lectures.]

ASTRONOMY: Richard Hoagland of New Jersey, for identifying artificial
features on the moon and on Mars, including a human face on Mars and
ten-mile high buildings on the far side of the moon. [For details, see "The
Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever," by Richard C. Hoagland,
North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA,1996.]

COMMUNICATIONS: Sanford Wallace, president of Cyber Promotions of
Philadelphia -- neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night have stayed this
self-appointed courier from delivering electronic junk mail to all the

PHYSICS: John Bockris of Texas A&M University, for his wide-ranging
achievements in cold fusion, in the transmutation of base elements into
gold, and in the electrochemical incineration of domestic rubbish.

LITERATURE: Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips and Yoav Rosenberg of Israel, and
Michael Drosnin of the United States, for their hairsplitting statistical
discovery that the Bible contains a secret, hidden code. [Witztum, Rips and
Rosenberg's original research was published as "Equidistant Letter Sequences
in the Book of Genesis," "Statistical Science," Vol. 9, No. 3, 1994, pp.
429-38. Drosnin's popular book, "The Bible Code," was published by Simon &

MEDICINE: Carl J. Charnetski and Francis X. Brennan, Jr. of Wilkes
University, and James F. Harrison of Muzak Ltd. in Seattle, Washington, for
their discovery that listening to elevator Muzak stimulates immunoblobulin
A (IgA) production, and thus may help prevent the common cold.

ECONOMICS: Akihiro Yokoi of Wiz Company in Chiba, Japan and Aki Maita of
Bandai Company in Tokyo, the father and mother of Tamagotchi, for diverting
millions of person-hours of work into the husbandry of virtual pets.

PEACE: Harold Hillman of the University of Surrey, England for his lovingly
rendered and ultimately peaceful report "The Possible Pain Experienced
During Execution by Different Methods." [Published in "Perception 1993,"
vol 22, pp. 745-53. The day after the ceremony, Dr. Hillman telephoned to
say that "I'd like to come to the ceremony next year, if I'm alive. If I'm
dead, I probably won't come."]

METEOROLOGY: Bernard Vonnegut of the State University of Albany, for his
revealing report, "Chicken Plucking as Measure of Tornado Wind Speed."
[Published in "Weatherwise," October 1975, p. 217.  NOTE: Bernard Vonnegut
passed away in the spring of 1997. His son Peter came to the ceremony to
accept the prize. A further note of interest: Bernard was the older brother
of novelist Kurt Vonnegut.]

A full report on the ceremony will appear in the Jan/Feb 1998 issue of AIR.
We will be posting other press clippings on our web site (
If you see a press clipping in a print publication, we would appreciate your
sending us a copy.

We are now accepting nominations for next year's Ig Nobel Prizes.  Please
send your entries to <>.

1997-10-08	Museum of Left Feet

We have been granted the privilege of heralding the founding of The Museum
of Left Feet. Located in scenic Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Museum will
house plaster casts of left feet.  At present it contains two such feet,
one cast from the left foot of Nobel Laureate Sheldon Glashow, the other
cast from the left pedal apparatus of Nobel Laureate William Lipscomb. They
were purchased by the Museum's founder, Gordon Bennett, at Ig Nobel Prize
Ceremonies in 1996 and 1997. The official opening has not yet been
scheduled. The new Museum will be informally affiliated with the Museum of
Improbable Research (MIR).
    Until the new museum's acquisitions facility is completed, anyone who
wishes to donate items (clean feet ONLY, please) is requested to get in
touch with us.

1997-10-09	MIR Disclaimer

The MIR orbital research facility is in no way affiliated with the Museum
of Improbable Research (MIR). Any perceived resemblance is serendipitous.

1997-10-18	AIRhead Events

NPR's "Talk of the Nation / Science Friday" program with Ira
Flatow. Annual broadcast of an edited version of the Ig Nobel
Prize Ceremony.

1997-10-20	How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

What you are reading right now is mini-AIR. It is NOT a tiny
version of AIR -- rather, it is overflow from the real magazine.
To subscribe, send a brief E-mail message to:
The body of your message should contain ONLY the words
(You may substitute your own name for that of Madame Curie.)
(c) copyright 1997, The Annals of Improbable Research

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