1995 Ig Nobel Prizes

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Sun Oct 15 16:44:38 EST 1995

This is a follow up of a a recent exchange on 
Ig-Nobel Prizes, gorilla suits, peer review, etc. 
The following is an account of 1995 Ig-Nobel Prizes.

The readers can appreciate for themselves
the degree of difference (when any) between Ig-Nobel 
Prizes (awarded in Harvard) and the real ones
(awarded in Stockholm). If judged by the
level of REAL results (as opposed to presumed, 
fictional or intentional), the 1995-Ig Prize 
for the ECONOMY which went to Nick Leeson of 
Barings Bank, U.K. is truly impressive.

Alex Berezin
(reposting is permitted)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 1995 15:55:44 -0400
From: Marc Abrahams <marca at wilson.Harvard.EDU>
To: berezin at mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca
Subject: Announcing the 1995 Ig Nobel Prizewinners 

The mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR")
Issue Number 1995-10
October, 1995
ISSN 1076-500X
Key words: improbable research, science humor, Ig Nobel, AIR, the
A free newsletter of tidbits too tiny to fit in
	The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR),
	the journal of inflated research and personalities


1995-10-01	Table of Contents
1995-10-02	Micro-mini Housekeeping Notes
1995-10-03	Alluring Abstracts from AIR 1:6
1995-10-04	The 1995 Ig Nobel Prizewinners
1995-10-05	Other Ig Nobelliana
1995-10-06	Teachers' Guide
1995-10-07	AIRhead Science Limericks
1995-10-08	AIRhead Project 2000
1995-10-09	May We Recommend...
1995-10-10	AIRhead Events
1995-10-11	What is AIR? (*)
1995-10-12	How to Subscribe to AIR(*)
1995-10-13	How to Receive mini-AIR, etc.(*)
1995-10-14	Our Address (*)
1995-10-15	Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

		Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

1995-10-02	Micro-mini Housekeeping Notes

1. Yes, we do plan to have a video of this year's Ig Nobel Prize 
Cereomny.  Details will be announced in the next issue of mini-

2. Beginning with this issue, the mini-AIR distribution load will 
be handled using a new mailer program on a new computer system.  
Fellow AIRheads, let us pray.

1995-10-03	AIR 1:5 -- Special Animal Behavior Issue

AIR is a subversively educational print journal.  The articles in 
AIR are longer, more visual, and more xeroxible than the tiny 
tidbits we publish in mini-AIR.  

AIR vol. 1, no. 6, the November/December 1995 issue, is a special 
issue devoted partially to research on animal behavior.  Two of 
the most prominent articles are:

A] A report from Swiss researchers (Inaudil, de Lega, Di Tullo, 
Forno, Jacquet, Lehmann, Monti and Vurpillot) who have identified 
and captured the butterfly whose wingflapping causes rainfalls in 

B] A report from researchers at the University of Waterloo 
(Carron, Brawley and Widmeyer) concerning a program of 
independence training for lemmings.

AIR includes these full articles and much more -- including 
several pages (with copious quotes!) of items that merit a trip to 
the library.  We invite you to subscribe and become an official 

1995-10-04	The 1995 Ig Nobel Prizewinners

The Fifth First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was held at Harvard 
University on the evening of Friday, Oct. 6, 1995.  Ten prizes 
were awarded to individuals whose achievements "cannot or should 
not be reproduced."  Two of the winners (nutrition and chemistry) 
were present, and received their Prizes from (genuine) Nobel 
Laureates Sheldon Glashow (Physics '79), Dudley Herschbach  
(Chemistry '86), William Lipscomb (Chemistry '76), Joseph Murray 
(Physiology or Medicine '90) and Richard Roberts  (Physiology or 
Medicine '93).   Three other winners (physics, literature and 
dentistry) graciously sent taped acceptance speeches.

The Ceremony was mounted by The Annals of Improbable Research and 
co-sponsored by the Harvard Computer Society and by Tangents (the 
Harvard-Radcliffe mathematical bulletin).

Here is a complete list of the 1995 Ig Nobel Prizewinners.

NUTRITION   John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in Atlanta, for 
Luak Coffee, the world's most expensive coffee, which is made from 
coffee beans ingested and excreted by the luak (aka, the palm 
civet), a bobcat-like animal native to Indonesia.

PHYSICS   D.M.R. Georget, R. Parker, and A.C. Smith, of the 
Institute of Food Research, Norwich, England, for their rigorous 
analysis of soggy breakfast cereal, published in the report 
entitled 'A Study of the Effects of Water Content on the 
Compaction Behaviour of Breakfast Cereal Flakes."  [Published in 
the research journal "Powder Technology," November, 1994, vol. 81, 
no. 2, pp. 189-96.]

ECONOMICS   Awarded jointly to Nick Leeson and his superiors at 
Barings Bank and to Robert Citron of Orange County, California, 
for using the calculus of derivatives to demonstrate that every 
financial institution has its limits.

MEDICINE   Marcia E. Buebel, David S. Shannahoff-Khalsa, and 
Michael R. Boyle, for their invigorating study entitled "The 
Effects of Unilateral Forced Nostril Breathing on Cognition."  
[Published in "International Journal of Neuroscience," vol. 57, 
1991, pp. 239-249.]

LITERATURE   David B. Busch and James R. Starling, of Madison 
Wisconsin, for their deeply penetrating research report, "Rectal 
foreign bodies: Case Reports and a Comprehensive Review of the 
World's Literature." The citations include reports of, among other 
items: seven light bulbs; a knife sharpener; two flashlights; a 
wire spring; a snuff box; an oil can with potato stopper; eleven 
different forms of fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs; a 
jeweler's saw; a frozen pig's tail; a tin cup; a beer glass; and 
one patient's remarkable ensemble collection consisting of 
spectacles, a suitcase key, a tobacco pouch and a magazine. 
[Published in the medical journal "Surgery," September 1986, pp. 

PEACE  The Taiwan National Parliament, for demonstrating that 
politicians gain more by punching, kicking and gouging each other 
than by waging war against other nations.

PSYCHOLOGY  Shigeru Watanabe, Junko Sakamoto, and Masumi Wakita, 
of Keio University, for their success in training pigeons to 
discriminate between the paintings of Picasso and those of Monet. 
[Their report, entitled "Pigeons' Discrimination of Paintings by 
Monet and Picasso," was published in "Journal of the Experimental 
Analysis of Behavior," vol. 63, 1995, pp. 165-174.]

PUBLIC HEALTH  Martha Kold Bakkevig of Sintef Unimed in Trondheim, 
Norway, and Ruth Nielson of the Technical University of Denmark, 
for their exhaustive study, "Impact of Wet Underwear on 
Thermoregulatory Responses and Thermal Comfort in the Cold."  
[Published in "Ergonomics," vol 37, no. 8, Aug. 1994 , pp. 1375-

DENTISTRY   Robert H. Beaumont,  of Shore View, Minnesota, for his 
incisive study "Patient Preference for Waxed or Unwaxed Dental 
Floss." [Published in the research journal "Journal of 
Periodontology," vol. 61, no. 2, Feb. 1990, pp. 123-5.

CHEMISTRY  Bijan Pakzad of Beverly Hills, for creating DNA Cologne 
and DNA Perfume, neither of which contain deoxyribonucleic acid, 
and both of which come in a triple helix bottle.

A very skimpy, yet somewhat coherent, description of the Cereomny 
can be obtained by sending email to INFO at IMPROB.COM

A full account, with photographs, will appear n the Jan/Feb issue 
of AIR.

1995-10-05	Other Ig Nobelliana

1. This year's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony was, as we had hoped, 
televised live the Internet MBONE facility.  We were pleased to 
hear from people in a number of countries who witnessed the events 
as they folded and unfolded.  The unfortunate part was that the 
ethernet cable into the hall was installed only two days before 
the ceremony, too late fo rus to get out a special issue of mini-
AIR in time to notify most of you.  Next year, all the technical 
aspects should be in place in plenty of time.

2. The theme of this year's ceremony was "DNA, the stuff of life 
and legend."   DNA was celebrated throughout the evening in a 
variety of ways by everyone from 12-year old Kate Eppers to DNA 
pioneer James Watson to Sally Yeh, president of Bijan Fragrances, 
the creators of DNA Fragrances for Men and Women.

3. If you were at the ceremony, or if you saw it over the 
Internet, you witnessed the work of an extraordinary group of 
people, many from Harvard and MIT, many from elsewhere, who 
labored mightily and mighty lovingly to make this ceremony happen.  
Extremely special thanks to producer igstaordinaire Sip 
Siperstein, literary mathematician Stanley Eigen, stage manager 
Roger Kautz, organigzer igstraordinaire Christopher Thorpe and the 
Harvard Computer Society, Christopher Pimlott and Tangents, 
choreigrapher Nicola Hawkins (and the Nicola Hawkins Dance 
Company), lichtmeister and propologist Eric Workman, 
scientist/supermodel Symmetra (Deb Kreuze), jazz harpist and stage 
presence Deborah Henson-Conant, videontologist Steph Gainer, 
audiogrammatographers Dave Goodman and Jeff Bryant, Joe Wrinn and 
the Harvard News Office staff, Brian Yankee and the Sanders 
Theater staff, the Holyoke Center ticket office, the Harvard 
Parking Office, John Mather and the Harvard Science Center 
magicians, Alan Symonds, Tatiana Divens, Brett Neubig, Frank Wu, 
Focus Magazine, the incomparable and elusive R.T. Morris, Chris 
Small, Jerry Lotto, Trevor Blackwell and Prof. Margo Selzer & 
company, our friend Tom, our radio friends Thomas and Raymond, the 
Nobel and Ig Nobel Laureates and their families, and many other 
people whom -- most unfortunately! -- we do not have room to list 
here.  And let us not forget Lucky the flying dog.

1995-10-06	Teachers' Guide

[By popular request, here (again) is the teachers' guide that we 
publish in every issue of AIR.  Please pass it on to any teacher 
friend who would find it useful.]

Three out of five teachers agree: curiosity is a dangerous thing, 
especially in students.  If you are one of the other two teachers, 
AIR and mini-AIR can be powerful tools.  Choose your favorite 
hAIR-raising article and give copies to your students.  The 
approach is simple.  The scientist thinks that he (or she, or 
whatever), of all people, has discovered something about how the 
universe behaves.  So:

* Is this scientist right -- and what does "right" mean, anyway?
* Can you think of even one different explanation that works
  as well or better?
* Did the test really, really, truly, unquestionably, completely
  test what the author thought he was testing?
* Is the scientist ruthlessly honest with himself about how well
  his idea explains everything, or could he be suffering from
  wishful thinking?

Kids are naturally good scientists.  Help them stay that way. 

1995-10-07	AIRhead Science Limericks

Our compendium of new (at least we hope that they are new) science 
limericks continues to grow, swell and change color. We urge you 
to keep your submissions on-color, not off-.  The limericks and 
commentaries (especially those of J. Pasachoff) that we published 
in prior months have spurred an intense and facinatingly 
inconsequential debate on the proper rules of syntax, rhyme and 
content for Limericks.  This set of commentaries, which one 
participant called "a Jesuitically Talmudic triumph of hyperbole 
and split hairs," will perhaps one day become part of our home 
page.  For this month, despite the kind offer of one reader from 
Singapore who offered to "brain" us if we published any more 
limericks, we confine our published offerings to the following.

[Written in haste, in immediate reaction to unjustified 
There is always some guy with a rule
Who will claim that another's a fool
When his lim'rick won't scan
To a prearranged plan,
But forbear, it may _still_ be a jewel.
     --David Hormuth

[But with that in mind, I hereby submit another, based on a TRUE 
event that occurred in 1965, when I was a lab assistant at North 
Dakota State University:]
The zoology coed did squirm
At the lab quiz that ended the term.
When asked "What are tadpoles?",
(In the specimen bowls),
She wrote down "They are elephant sperm."
     --David Hormuth

A research professor (Renee),
Cloned people from ape DNA.
The project went well,
Anyone can tell,
'Cause they're members of congress today.
     --Frank Weisel
     Montgomery County Public Schools
     Rockville, MD 

In Boulder, where often it snows,
NIST/JILA staff got high from lows.
A great celebration:
at last! condensation
according to Einstein and Bose!
     --Walter Leight

1995-10-08	AIRhead Project 2000

As announced in mini-AIR 1994-02-03 (June, 1994), we are compiling 
a list of studies, projects, and products that involve the number 
two thousand. The following items were randomly selected:

ITEM #3074  (submitted by investigator Geir Overskeid)
"T 2000," a new type of subway train in Oslo, Norway.

ITEM #3099E (submitted by investigator Calton Bolick)
"WHEELS 2000," a used car business in Concord, CA that 
	advertises itself as ("specializing in one-owner cars!").

ITEM #4110 (submittd by investigator A. Singh)
"AD 2000," an automobile rustproofing product by Esso.

ITEM #8888K-09 (submitted by investigator Dustin Laurence)
"Midway 2000" a scenario for the wargame Harpoon: Captain's 
	Edition by Larry Bond and published by Game Designer's 

ITEM #9991-FTF (submitted by investigator Wolf Roder)
"Africa 2000, a conference held at Hofstra University in October
	 1995, conference at Hofstra Univ. 12-14 October 1995

ITEM #4909 (submitted by investigator Madeleine Page)
"Organization 2000: A Psychoanalytic Perspective," a conference
	organized by The International Society for the 
	Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations.

ITEM #120391 (submitted by investigator Pete Kaiser)
"Elastic 2000," a bungee-jumping facility open evenings in 
	"Antibes Land", near the city of Antibes on the Cote d'Azur
	in France.

1995-10-09	May We Recommend...

Research reports that merit a trip to the library.
(These items are additional to the many which appear in AIR 

"Psychological Evaluation of Non-Linear Distortion," by H. Yahiro, 
et al, presented at 37th Audio Engineering Society Convention, 
1980, preprint #665.  (Thanks to investigator Greg Kinney for 
bringing this to our attention.)

"A study of the influence of ageing on the mechanical properties 
of Cheddar cheese," by M. N. Charalambides, J. G. Williams, and S. 
Chakrabarti, "Journal of Materials Science," vol. 30, 1995, pp. 
3959-3967.  (Thanks to investigator Tom Jervis for bringing this 
to our attention.  This research appears to have been conducted 
completely independently from that of Banjamin Waggoner, whose 
study, "Evolutionary Relationships Among Cheeses," was published 
in "The Annals of Improbable Research," vol. 1, no. 3, May/Jun 
1995.  Readers are hereby alerted to the fact that we might 
publish an analysis of the Charalambides, Williams, Chakrabarti 
research in a future issue of AIR.)

"Manhole Covers," by Mimi Melnick with photographs by Robert A 
Melnick, MIT Press, 1994.  (Thanks to investigator Steve Anderson, 
and to a prior investigator whose name has washed away, for 
bringing this to our attention.)

1995-10-10	AIRhead Events

[The most current version of this list can always be obtained
by sending e-mail to INFO at IMPROB.COM]

"THE ACID TEST" program, BBC Radio 5, UK	Sun, Oct 15, 7:35 pm
Report on the 1995 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

7:00 Doherty Hall 2315.  Seminar/slide show on "Advances in 
Improbable Research."  Info: Catherine_Copetas at GANDALF.CS.CMU.EDU

FROSTBURG STATE (Maryland)			Thurs,October 19
3:30 in Tawes Hall, room 232. Seminar on improbable science 
7:30 in Lane Center multi-use room. Seminar/slide show on 
"Advances in Improbable Research." Info: George Plitnik, 301-687-

GLOBOSAT NEWS TELEVISION, Brazil		Sat, Oct 21, 7 pm
Special report on the 1995 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony.

FOLIO CONFERENCE, Hilton Hotel, New York City	Thurs, Oct 26
2:00 AIRhead lecture/slide show for magazine editors and 
publishers on the topic "Camshafts, Beer, and Cindy Crawford:  How 
to Make a Dull Topic Irresistable."  Info: John Nelson, American 
Society of Business Press Editors, 708-889-4141

IG NOBEL ON SCIENCE FRIDAY			Thurs afternoon, Nov 24
National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation / Science Friday" 
program will broadcast a recording of the 1995 Ig Nobel Prize 
Ceremony. Consult your local NPR station for exact time.

MIT ALUMNI CLUB, Albany New York		Thurs evening, Dec 14
INFO: Wendy Gilman: 518-443-5168 or 518-270-1882  

AAAS ANNUAL MEETING, Baltimore			Sun, Feb 11, 1996
Several of AIR's most distinguished authors will present their 
research on "The Taxonomy of Barney," "Analysis of DNA Cologne," 
"Risk Assessment of Abduction by Aliens," "Studmuffins of 
Science," and other topics at a special evening session.

FOLIO CONFERENCE, Los Angeles			April 23-6, 1996
Presentation of research findings built upon those described in 
October Folio conference presentation.
[Anyone if the LA area who would like to sponsor other AIRhead 
events durin the same week are requested to email 
marca at wilson.harvard.edu.]

If you would like to host an improbable research seminar / slide 
show please get in touch with us.

>From time to time AIRhead news reports and commentary appear on 
ABC Television's "World News Now" and International Public Radio's 

1995-10-11	WHAT IS AIR? (*)

The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) is a splendidly subversive 
science humor magazine produced by the founders and entire former 
editorial staff (1955-1994) of "The Journal of Irreproducible 
Results" and by other research scientists and other AIRheads from 
around the world.  AIR's co-founders are Marc Abrahams, who edited 
the Journal from 1990-1994, and Alexander Kohn, who co-founded the 
Journal in 1955 and was its editor until 1989. The editorial board 
consists of more than 40 distinguished scientists from around the 
world, including eight Nobel Laureates and a convicted felon.  
Each October, AIR produces the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, honoring 
people whose achievements "cannot or should not be reproduced."
[IMPORTANT -- AIR is IN NO WAY associated with the name "The 
Journal of Irreproducible Results" or with the entity which now 
owns that name.]

1995-10-12	How to Subscribe to AIR(*)

Amaze your colleagues.  Delight your friends.  Impress yourself.  
Subscribe to The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)!

Put more AIR in the lab, the classroom, the office, the waiting 
room, the library, the living room, the restroom, ...the detention 
center.  And it makes a lovely gift of the most unexpected kind.
6 issues per year.  Highly enriched, yet contains no cholesterol.


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1995-10-13	How to Receive mini-AIR, etc.(*)

mini-AIR is an monthly electronic newsletter of overflow tidbits 
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1995-10-14	Our Address

The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)
PO Box 380853
Cambridge, MA  02238  USA  617-491-4437  FAX:617-661-0927

EDITORIAL:  marca at wilson.harvard.edu
GENERAL INFO (supplied automatically):  info at improb.com
SUBSCRIPTIONS: air at improb.com

URL: http://www.improb.com/

We read everything we receive, but are unable to answer all of it.  
IF you need a reply, please include your Internet address and/or a 
SASE in all printed correspondence.

1995-10-15	Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

Please distribute copies of mini-AIR (or excerpts) wherever 
appropriate.  The only limitations are:
A) Please indicate that the material comes from mini-AIR.
B) You may NOT distribute mini-AIR for commercial purposes.

(c) copyright 1995, The Annals of Improbable Research

EDITOR: Marc Abrahams  (marca at wilson.harvard.edu)
WWW EDITOR/GLOBAL VILLAGE IDIOT: Amy Gorin  (ringo at mit.edu)
COMMUTATIVE EDITOR: Stanley Eigen (eigen at neu.edu)
ASSOCIATIVE EDITORS: Mark Dionne, Jane Patrick
CO-CONSPIRATORS: Nicki Sorel, Gary Dryfoos
AUTHORITY FIGURES: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, Sheldon 
Glashow & William Lipscomb

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