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Wed September 19, 2012
The Sillier Side of Science Gets Its Day in the Sun
Influential science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov once said, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but, 'That's funny."
That might be a pretty neat idea for some. Something to consider and then file away, or perhaps forget altogether. For Marc Abrahams, it’s a mission statement.
His organization — Improbable Research — is solely dedicated to shining a spotlight on the sillier and stranger sides of science: research that makes people laugh ... and then think.
But the biggest, brightest feather in Improbable Research's eccentric cap is its annual Ig Nobel Prize award ceremony, where they honor 10 scientists whose stands out for having that peculiar laugh/think quality. Past winners have included a study that details the medical effects of sword swallowing, an examination of the effect of Coca-Cola on sperm motility and an emergency bra that can be quickly converted into a pair of protective face masks.
And if you are wondering what goes down at the ceremony itself, consider this explainer/endorsement from Boston-area music icon Amanda Palmer:
"It's like the weirdest f-ing thing that you'll ever go to... it's a collection of, like, actual Nobel Prize winners giving away prizes to real scientists for doing f'd-up things... it's awesome."
The man behind the madness, Marc Abrahams, joined Edgar Herwick on BPR to talk more about this year's Ig Nobels and what they mean for the rest of his work at Improbable Research.
Marc Abrahams, editor and co-founder of the Annals of Improbable Research, father and emcee of the Ig Nobel Prize
Here's the 2011 Ig Nobels in their entirety: