Fun_People Archive
13 Oct
Excerpted: mini-AIR Oct 99 -- Ig Winners, Banana Surprise, Sweetie

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 99 13:45:04 -0700
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Subject: Excerpted: mini-AIR Oct 99 -- Ig Winners, Banana Surprise, Sweetie

X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649  -=[ Fun_People ]=-
Forwarded-by: Nev Dull <>
From: Marc Abrahams <>

1999-10-04	The 1999 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

The 1999 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded at a gala ceremony at
Harvard's Sanders Theatre on the night of September 30. Here are
the new winners:

				*	*	*

SOCIOLOGY:  Steve Penfold, of York University in Toronto, for
doing his PhD thesis on the sociology of Canadian donut shops.

PHYSICS:  Dr. Len Fisher of Bath, England and Sydney, Australia
for calculating the optimal way to dunk a biscuit.

Professor Jean-Marc Vanden-Broeck of the University of East
Anglia, England, and Belgium, for calculating how to make a teapot
spout that does not drip.

LITERATURE: The British Standards Institution for its six-page
specification (BS-6008)  of the proper way to make a cup of tea.

SCIENCE EDUCATION: The Kansas Board of Education and the Colorado
State Board of Education, for mandating that children should not
believe in Darwin's theory of evolution any more than they believe
in Newton's theory of gravitation, Faraday's and Maxwell's theory
of electromagnetism, or Pasteur's theory that germs cause disease.

MEDICINE: Dr. Arvid Vatle of Stord, Norway, for carefully
collecting, classifying, and contemplating which kinds of
containers his patients chose when submitting urine samples.

CHEMISTRY: Takeshi Makino, president of The Safety Detective
Agency in Osaka, Japan, for his involvement with S-Check, an
infidelity detection spray that wives can apply to their husbands'

BIOLOGY: Paul Bosland of The Chile Pepper Institute, at New Mexico
State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico, for breeding a spiceless
jalapeno chile pepper.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: Hyuk-ho Kwon of Kolon Company of Seoul,
Korea, for inventing the self-perfuming business suit.

PEACE: Charl Fourie and Michelle Wong of Johannesburg, South
Africa, for inventing an automobile burglar alarm consisting of a
detection circuit and a flamethrower.

MANAGED HEALTH CARE: The late George and Charlotte Blonsky of New
York City and San Jose, California, for inventing a device (US
Patent #3,216,423) to aid women in giving birth -- the woman is
strapped onto a circular table, and the table is then rotated at
high speed.

				*	*	*

For details, see the AIR web site

CO-CONSPIRATORS: Thanks to the Harvard Computer Society (HCS) and
the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Society (HRSFA), who co-
sponsored the ceremony together with the Annals of Improbable

VIDEOCAST: Special thanks go to and to the
Alchemist ( for making possible the splendid live
Internet telecast. You can see video of the ceremony at

Very special thanks to to the eight new Ig Nobel Prize winners who
journeyed to Cambridge to collect their prizes and explain their
work. All displayed imagination, panache, and a desire to help the
public become interested in learning.

1999-10-09	Academic Happy-Happy Survey

This month's education survey was suggested by a letter from
investigator Karin Manush. Manush writes:

"I see that government leaders in the United States are banning
evolution from the schools because, in their words, 'it is a
controversial subject.' I agree with them. Controversial subjects
should be banned.  When I was going to school I flunked
trigonometry, and so did my brother Hans. My sister Astrid liked
math and always argued with Hans and me. I don't want my children
to have to go through what I went through. Trigonometry is still
controversial in my family. I want it removed from the classroom."

We at AIR heartily endorse this bold, experimental approach to
education. We are sure you do, too. In fact, we insist on it. We
command that you take part in this month's academic survey:

	What subject do you personally find controversial
	and want removed from the schools?

Please send your answer (25 words max) to

1999-10-10	Another Boring Site

This month's boring site was discovered by investigator Yasmin
Rahman. Here is her report:

"I'm a student at the University of California, Berkeley, where
there is always some sort of construction (usually seismic
refitting) going on at various places around the campus. I was
walking by a construction site this summer and was quite amused
when I saw the name of one company emblazoned proudly on the sides
of their vehicles: Advanced Boring Specialists, Inc. (Surprisingly
enough, this company is not composed of Berkeley professors.)
Their website is at"

1999-10-12	Tsk, Tsk, Koala

Disgusting entries have been pouring in for our Tsk Tsk Task
Survey. As explained last month, we are compiling a list of
unpleasant, unseemly, or unthinkable tasks that scientists inflict
on their assistants. This entry was sent by investigator Fiona

"Have you ever tried to do a pap smear on an unanaesthetised
Koala? One student changed his honours project to something more
sedate after his first week of field work studying the spread of
venereal diseases amongst Koalas. Getting her out of the tree was
apparently one issue, but to then perform the said indecency on a
lady koala was altogether too much for this chap, and after a few
days bravely battling claws and unhappy koala dispositions, he
staggered back to uni and huffily chose another project (and
another supervisor)."

1999-10-16	How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

Here's how to subscribe to the magnificent bi-monthly print
journal The Annals of Improbable Research -- (the real thing, not
just the little bits of overflow material you have been reading
here in mini-AIR)

City and State:					Zip or postal code:
Phone:			FAX:			E-mail:

	USA			1 yr/$23	2 yrs/$39		3 yrs/$59
	Canada/Mexico	1 yr/$27 US	2 yrs/$45 US	3 yrs/$67 US
	Overseas		1 yr/$40 US	2 yrs/$70 US	3 yrs/$99 US

[Copies of back issues are each $8 in the USA,
$11 in Canada/Mexico, $16 overseas.]

Send payment (US bank check, or international money order, or
Visa, Mastercard or Discover info) to:
The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA
617-491-4437	FAX:617-661-0927

1999-10-17	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 a tiny supplement to the 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.)
To stop subscribing, send the following message: SIGNOFF MINI-AIR

1999-10-18	Our Address (*)

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)	
PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA
617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927


1999-10-19	Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

Please distribute copies of mini-AIR (or excerpts!) wherever
appropriate. The only limitations are:
A) Please indicate that the material comes from mini-AIR.
B) You may NOT distribute mini-AIR for commercial purposes.

(c) copyright 1999, Annals of Improbable Research

EDITOR: Marc Abrahams (
MINI-PROOFREADER AND PICKER OF NITS (before we introduce the last
few at the last moment): Wendy Mattson <>
CO-CONSPIRATORS: Gary Dryfoos, Ernest Ersatz, Craig Haggart, Nicki
AUTHORITY FIGURES: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, Sheldon
Glashow, William Lipscomb, Richard Roberts

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