Weird Science: the Ig Nobel Prize Awards Ceremony 2010

The Ig Noble Awards Ceremony, Prize for Public Health 2009

Tonight, September 30th, at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre, the purveyors of parody at Improbable Research regale the scientific community's most hilarious at the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. Celebrating scientific findings "that first make people laugh, and then make them think," Improbable Research, in cooperation with various Harvard student groups, will be awarding the most uncanny, imaginative, and downright hysterical in scientific achievements--but the antics don't end there. The ceremony will also feature appearances by Evelyn Evelyn, Neil Gaiman, real Nobel laureates, past prize winners, and the intimidating eight-year-old, "Miss Sweetie Poo," who has a zero tolerance policy for verbose acceptance speeches, so don't get any long-winded ideas. 

Not unlike the genuine Nobel Prize winners, the identity of tonight's honorees have been shrouded in mystery and subterfuge, but the Ig Nobel press release reveals one clue: "This year's ten winners come from five continents." ...Helpful?

Once the winners are announced, actual Nobel laureates will bestow the prizes. Among the laureates attending will be Roy Glauber (physics, 2005), Frank Wilczek (physics, 2004), Sheldon Glashow (physics, 1979), James Muller (peace, 1985), and William Lipscomb (chemistry, 1976). One of them will also be the prized someone in the Win-a-Date-with-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest, and date topics will likely include a casual discussion of Newtonian Physics segueing awkwardly into a discussion of each person's ex's, the paucity of good men in this city, and how to best split the check.

According to the official Ig press release, last year's winners included the American scientists who determined, against all odds, why pregnant women don't topple over; the Mexican physicists who miraculously created diamonds from tequila; and the Swiss team who tested whether it's better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle. Previous Igs honored a centrifugal birthing machine that spins pregnant women at high speeds, the patenting of the wheel in the year 2001, and the 'emergency bra,' an "uplifting" apparatus that can be turned into a facemask in the occasion of lethal chemical attacks or biological hazards.

Speaking of biological hazards, this year's theme is not for the risk-averting or Howie Mandel, compulsive, hand purifying types. It's likely that only those comfortable with our single-celled ancestors will appreciate that this year's ceremony devotes it's theme to science's time-honored test subject: BACTERIA. Premiering "The Bacterial Opera," a mini-opera about the pathogens who set up shop on a woman's front tooth, the ceremony will also include a brief "microbial" concert by group Evelyn Evelyn, comprised of Jason Webley and Amanda Palmer--also known as Amanda Fucking Palmer (of Dresden Dolls fame).

For those (like us) lamenting their lack of foresight in purchasing tickets, you can catch the whole side-splitting spectacle in a live webcast on YouTube.

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