Coke versus Pepsi* Coca-Cola Birth Control and Tangled-string Scholars among winners
* Also: Armadillos and Archaeology, High-Jumping Fleas, Dignity-of-Plants Law
* Winners come from 4 continents

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.(RUSHPRNEWS)10/03/2008-The 2008 Ig Nobel Prizes, honoring achievements that first make people LAUGH, and then make them THINK, were awarded at Harvard University’s historic Sanders Theatre on Thursday before 1200 spectators in a ceremony filled with redundancy, sword-swallowing, opera singers and paper airplanes. Around the world, thousands watched via live webcast.

This was the 18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony.

Seven of the ten new winners journeyed to Harvard — at their own expense — to accept their Prizes. This year’s winners come from four continents.

The Ig Nobel Prizes were physically handed to the winners by genuine Nobel Laureate William Lipscomb (Chemistry 1976). Frank Wilczek (Physics 2004) was represented on stage in the form a dummy; Wilczek’s daughter Mira assisted the dummy in congratulating the Ig Nobel winners. Professor Lipscomb, 89 years young, was the prize in the Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest. Lipscomb was not the night’s only romantic interest. Benoit Mandelbrot, the 84-year-old mathematician who invented the mathematics-and-art concept of fractals, was the prize in a frenzied Win-a-Date-with-Benoit-Mandelbrot Contest.

The event was produced by the science humor magazine “Annals of Improbable Research” (AIR), and co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students, and the Harvard Computer Society.

The evening also featured numerous tributes to the evening’s theme of “Redundancy.”

The ceremony included the premiere of a new mini-opera called “Redundancy, Again”, starring singers Maria Ferrante and Ben Sears, with conductor David Stockton, and backup singing by the Nobel Laureates. The opera told the story of two business owners who, to maximize efficiency, fire everyone whose job in any way overlaps anyone else’s. But a minor problem keeps cropping up: Whenever even one employee quits, the entire operation grinds to a halt because no one knows anyone else’s job.

Each new winner was permitted a maximum of sixty (60) seconds to deliver an acceptance speech; the time limit was enforced by a cute-but-implacable eight-year-old girl. The winners will try to explain themselves at greater length (five minutes each) in free public lectures on the afternoon of Saturday, October 4 at MIT. (The press is welcome!)

Several former winners were present, greeted with glee from the audience. These included: Don Featherstone (creator of the plastic pink flamingo); Kees Moeliker (who reported the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck); and Francis Fesmire (the first doctor to cure intractable hiccups by applying digital rectal massage).

The ceremony began with past Ig winner Dan Meyer (swashbuckling co-author of the British Medical Journal study “Sword-swallowing and Its Side Effects”) swallowing a sword, which was then removed with a flourish by Dr. Thomas Michel, Harvard Medical School’s Dean of Education.

Marc Abrahams, master of ceremonies (and editor of the Annals of Improbable Research), closed the ceremony with the traditional, “If you didn’t win an Ig Nobel prize tonight — and especially if you did
— better luck next year.”

MARC ABRAHAMS, Editor, Annals of Improbable Research
telephone: (+1) 617-491-4437
FAX: 617-661-0927

KEES MOELIKER, European Bureau Chief, Annals of Improbable Research, Natuurhistorisch Museum Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and Ig Nobel Laureate
mobile: (+31) 6 53778445