Ig Nobelity Takes Over at MIT

'Scientific' Awards Ceremony Fraught With Satire

It was a typical awards ceremony: Distinguished scholars made emphatic speeches, large medals were hung around honorees' necks and a woman in red kept running in with a policeman, shouting, "That's him! That man is the father of my child! Stop him!"

Well, maybe the first annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony held at MIT was not so typical. The Ig Nobel prizes honoring individuals for irreproducible results in humanities and the sciences were made possible by the generosity of the late Ignatius ("Ig") Nobel, "the mythical inventor of soda pop and co-inventor of Excelsior," and possible relative of Alfred.

The ceremony, held at 7 p.m. yesterday at the MIT Museum, was hosted by Marc Abrahams, editor of The Journal Of Irreproducible Results, which has been described as a Mad Magazine for scientists.

Five real Nobel laureates were involved with the production, including Harvard's own Dudley R. Herschbach, Baird professor of science, and Sheldon L. Glashow, Higgins professor of physics.

The awards ceremony was a slightly less serious version of the actual Nobel Prize awards ceremony.

Glashow, who appeared on stage with Herschbach and the other laureates, wanted the world to know that he was NOT wearing a Red Sox baseball cap. Hershbach, meanwhile, attempted to hide his identity with a fake nose and glasses combination.

Ballerinas, Badges and Burps

The night began with the entrance of a pink-clad ballerina scattering confetti. Various Ig Nobel dignitaries followed, holding placards proclaiming, "Save the Rat," "Recovering Mathematician," and "The 2nd Point of Light." The dignitaries paid homage to the King and Queen of Swedish Meatballs, and watched the Sacred Torch Bearer enter and disappear.

Following the Welcome, Welcome speech ("Welcome! Welcome!"), the Salient Dignitaries and Nobel laureates were introduced to the audience. Tokens were thrown during the Token Speech, music was played during the Keynote Speech and burps were uttered during the Traditional Soda Pop Ceremony.

Rube Goldberg and Marilyn Vos Savant were inducted into the Posthumous Board of Governors, the latter as an honorary member, as she is alive.

Prize Recipients

Then the fun began. As the winners were announced, each was presented with a bulky medallion that emitted shrill screams when turned.

The Physics Prize went to Thomas Kyle, discoverer of the heaviest element in the universe, Administratium. The Pedestrian Technology Prize was awarded to Paul Defanti for the invention of the Buckybonnet, "a geodesic fashion structure" worn to "protect heads and preserve composure."

Kyle "declined the award with great pleasure," while Defanti took the opportunity to market his complicated blue monstrosity.

The Education Prize was awarded to Vice President J. Danforth Quayle, "for demonstrating, better than anyone else, the need for science education."