IgNobel Prize

The spoof IgNobel Prizes, awarded at Harvard University, were originally intended to satirise and show up spurious pseudo-science.

These days, they are equally used to “celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative, and spur people’s interest in science …” by publicizing quirky-sounding but essentially serious projects.

Ig Nobel Ceremony Honors Nutty ‘Scientific’ Research
Harvard College Gazette, December 1999 
U.S. newspaper story about the IgNobel prizes with pics of what happens on stage, with real Nobel Prize winners (!) sweeping up paper darts that have been thrown by the audience. The ceremony was all great fun, and featured “Miss Sweety Poo”, a charming eight-year-old girl whose job was to come up to speakers who exceeded the thirty second limit and keep saying “Please stop, I’m bored” until the speaker was forced to stop. Very effective; I wish I’d thought of it during my time as a scientific conference organizer. View image of article.

Brits Take the Biscuit
BBC Radio News, October 1999
Journalists had a funny feeling about Len Fisher when they visited the Englishman’s Bristol University laboratory. Anyone who spends that much time and effort researching the best way to dunk a biscuit in a cup of tea has to be in line for a top award – and so it proved…

Crumbs I’ve Got a Prize
October 1999
One of many newspaper stories that appeared at the time when I received an IgNobel Prize. Most were friendly, and showed recognition that this was a serious effort to make science accessible by showing how scientists think about the little problems of everyday life. View image of article.

Cup Runs Over for Scientists Who Can Take a Joke
Times, October 1999
Another media story about the IgNobel Prize, and using my quote “One way to make science accessible is by talking about the science of the familiar”. View image of article.

Here Come the Prize Idiots
The Guardian, 30 September 1999 
“Here come the prize idiots” came as a shock headline about the IgNobel Prize from a newspaper for which I had written quite a few articles. It was one of the things that stimulated me to suggest to the organizers that a new slogan was needed which reflected more accurately what the prizes are now about. As a result, the slogan has been changed to “First, they make you laugh; then, they make you think”. View image of article.