Ig Nobel Prize

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The Ig Nobel Prizes are an American parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October for ten unusual or trivial "achievements" in scientific research. The self proclaimed aim of the prizes is to "first make people laugh, and then make them think". Organized by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), they are presented by a group that includes Nobel Laureates at a ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theater.



The first Ig Nobels were awarded in 1991, at that time for discoveries "that cannot, or should not, be reproduced". Ten prizes are awarded each year in many categories, including the Nobel Prize categories of physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, literature, and peace, but also other categories such as public health, engineering, biology, and interdisciplinary research. With the exception of three prizes in the first year (Administratium, Josiah Carberry, and Paul DeFanti), the Ig Nobel Prizes are for genuine achievements.

The awards are sometimes veiled criticism (or gentle satire), as in the two awards given for homeopathy research, prizes in "science education" to the Kansas and Colorado state boards of education for their stance regarding the teaching of evolution, and the prize awarded to Social Text after the Sokal Affair. Most often, however, they draw attention to scientific articles that have some humorous or unexpected aspect. Examples range from the discovery that the presence of humans tends to sexually arouse ostriches, to the statement that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements to be the location of Hell, to research on the "five-second rule", a tongue-in-cheek belief that food dropped on the floor will not become contaminated if it is picked up within five seconds.

In 2010, Andre Geim became the first person to receive both the Nobel and an individual Ig Nobel prize.[1][2]


The name is a play on the word ignoble ("characterized by baseness, lowness, or meanness") and the name "Nobel" after Alfred Nobel. The official pronunciation used during the ceremony is /ˌɪɡnoʊˈbɛl/ "ig-no-bell". It is not pronounced like the word "ignoble" (/ɪɡˈnoʊbəl/).

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