Ig Nobels promise scientific silliness – which is kind of the point

Most of the time, the world of science is dry for very good reasons. The rigor of the scientific process demands extensive observation, experimentation and documentation of every minor facet of every minor phenomenon in nature with the result that you get a lot of studies that cover only a single aspect of specific protein denaturing under a specific set of circumstances, or some such.

Tonight, however, is different.

At Harvard University's Sanders Theater this evening, a collection of the most off-the-wall, bizarre and lurid scientific efforts of the past year will be dubiously honored with an Ig Nobel Prize.

The Ig Nobels are awarded annually by Improbable Research, an organization devoted to scientific education that publishes the Annals of Improbable Research magazine six times a year. Past honorees have included:

*A study about homosexual necrophilia in ducks

*Competitive analysis of breakfast cereal sogginess

*The discovery that dung beetles can navigate using the Milky Way galaxy

*Proof, as if such was needed, that drunk people find themselves more attractive.

For all the rubber-chicken japes and silliness, there's a fairly serious point to the Ig Nobels, according to Improbable Research head honcho Marc Abrahams.

"There's that one sentence which sums it up: things that first make people laugh, and then make them think," he told Network World in 2007.

Moreover, there's always plenty of genuine scientific genius in the room at the Ig Nobel event multiple winners of the actual Nobel Prize are usually in attendance, generally as presenters, and the honorees themselves are frequently no slouches themselves. (As has been widely noted, there's at least one case of an Ig Nobel winner adding a real Nobel to his trophy case Andre Geim's experiment with levitating frogs won the gag prize in 2000, while his invention of graphene won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.)

Couple that with an episodic musical composed and performed specifically for the event, implacably determined children to police long acceptance speeches and an impressive swarm of paper airplanes, and, well, that's entertainment. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. EST, and can be viewed online for free here.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags network securityConfiguration / maintenancesecurityhardware systemsData Center

More about Harvard University

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Jon Gold

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts