NPR Story
2:21 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Annual Prizes Honor the Stranger Side of Science

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. There's research that tackles the really big questions like where did we come from? How did the universe form? How can people live longer, better lives? Today is probably not the day for that research. Instead, it's our annual salute to science that first makes you laugh and then makes you think.

Talking about highlights from the 23rd First Annual Ig Nobel Awards. Where else would work studying the navigation habits of dung beetles get an award, or an idea for improving airline security involving a cage, a parachute and Bombay doors? Let's not go there. The awards are handed out each year by the editors of the science humor magazine, The Annals of Improbable Research.

The theme of this year's ceremony is force. So whenever you hear that secret word, feel free to shout, force, back at your radio. So steal that last sliver of pie, sit back and let us whisk you away through the magic of radio to Harvard Sanders Theater where the dignitaries and ignotaries(ph) are taking the stage.

(SOUNDBITE FROM THE 23RD FIRST ANNUAL IG NOBEL AWARDS)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Ladies and gentlemen and forces of nature, welcome to the 23rd First Nobel Prize Ceremony. Professor Jean Berko Gleason will deliver the tradition Ig Nobel welcome-welcome speech.

JEAN BERKO GLEASON: Welcome. Welcome.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, literati, glitterati, pseudo intellectuals, quasi pseudo intellectuals, and the rest of you, may I introduce our Master of Ceremonies, the editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, chief airhead, Marc Abrams.

MARC ABRAMS: We are gathered here tonight to honor some remarkable individuals and groups. Every winner has done something that first makes people laugh, then makes them think. The Ig Nobel ceremony is produced by the science humor magazine the Annals of Improbable Research and proudly co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students, the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction association and by the book, "This is Improbable" ISBN 9781851689316.

The editors of the Annals of Improbable Research have chosen a theme for this year's ceremony. That theme is force.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Please welcome our most special guests, the new Ig Nobel Prize winners.

This year's winners, they represent 18 countries and five continents.

FLATOW: The awards feature a bunch of officials to make sure things run smoothly, an official referee and timer, a special V-chip monitor designed to block offensive content, and Miss Sweety-poo, a little girl who interrupts when speeches run on just a bit too long.

(SOUNDBITE FROM THE 23RD FIRST ANNUAL IG NOBEL AWARDS)

ABRAMS: One past winner of the Ig Nobel Prize has come back to take a bow and to help us honor the new winners. Please welcome the co-winner of the 2009 Ig Nobel Physics Prize, which was given for analytically determining why pregnant women don't tip over, welcome Dan Lieberman.

Professor Lieberman will give a one-minute lecture entitled "The Biomechanical Forces Involved in Human Childbirth." Here is Professor Lieberman.

DAN LIEBERMAN: Why is human childbirth so difficult? Why can't mothers just exert enough force to expel the baby easily. The evolutionary explanation is that in upright moms who aren't quadripeds, the gravitational force of the fetus is counteracted by the floor of the pelvis, which is filled with vital sphincters, which you're all using right now. And so pregnant moms need especially strong pelvic floors.

Next, the second human newborns have enormous brains and as you can see from these numbers, it's a very tight fit. Next, finally, humans evolve extremely wide hips to locomote efficiently so big-brained babies have to enter the pelvis sideways and then turn a ridiculous 90-degress inside the pelvis. Next, and so the way in which we solve this problem is having intermittent gradual forces.

During stage one of labor, a mother produces about eight and a half kilo pascals of pressure on the fetus' head and then intermittently, about once every three minutes and then during the second stage of labor, those forces rise to about 20 pascals, (unintelligible) pascals on the fetus' head and those forces aren't gradual and intermittent, the mom and the baby are in trouble. So if any of you are expecting, may the force be with you, not the forceps.

ABRAMS: Thank you, Professor Lieberman. Now, get set for something special, the 24/7 lectures. We have invited several of the world's top thinkers to tell us, very briefly, what they are thinking about. Each 24/7 lecturer will explain her or his subject twice. First, a complete technical description in 24 seconds and then, after a brief pause, a clear summary that anyone can understand in seven words.

The 24 second time limit will be enforced by our V-chip monitor, Mr. William Maloney(ph). Mr. Maloney, do you have any advice for our 24/7 lecturers?

WILLIAM MALONEY: Keep it clean, gentlemen.

ABRAMS: Okay. The first 24/7 lecture will be delivered by Dudley Herschback, professor Emeritus of chemistry at Harvard University, the winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in chemistry. His topic, torque. First, a complete technical description of the subject in 24 seconds. On your mark, get set, go.

DUDLEY HERSCHBACH: Torque is a force proportional to the rate of change of angle momentum with time. Applied to any object, torque will accelerate or decelerate its rotation, the extent of the acceleration is adversely proportional to the moment of inertia of the object. Among myriad of applications are gyrations of ballet dancers, launching of boomerangs and birthing of elephants.

ABRAMS: And now, a clear summary that anyone can understand in seven words. On your mark, get set, go.

HERSCHBACH: To start or stop spinning, apply torque.

ABRAMS: The second 24/7 lecture will be delivered by Xiao-Li Meng, the dean of Harvard's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Wippelvien Jones, professor of statistics at Harvard. His topic, statistics.

(LAUGHTER)

MARK ABRAMS: First, a complete technical description of the subject in 24 seconds. On your mark, get set, go.

SHELL LEE MUNG: Z test T test hysbotest, I can help you to face any test based frequent fiducial let me make you feel infrincial. (unintelligible) coalition, causation, what else can (unintelligible) boy, do I feel sexy.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: And now a clear summary that anyone can understand in seven words. On your mark, get set, go.

WIPPELVIEN JONES: The only crystal ball approved by God.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: The final 24/7 lecture will be delivered by Franklin, an experimental particle physicist, the first female tenured faculty member in the Harvard Department of Physics.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: She studies particle interactions and symmetries. Her topic, force.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ABRAMS: First, a complete technical description of the subject in 24 seconds. On your mark, get set, go.

FRANKLIN: Force keeps me down, spins me round, keeps my atoms bound, keeps my emotion brown, makes my coffee drip, makes my muscles rip, my protons flip, my DNA zip and unzip.

(LAUGHTER)

FRANKLIN: It makes my cells divide, my brain decide, my microtubules grow and subside. Force makes things go and not go and and/or go and not go.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: Please welcome - he's ridden to the rescue - our referee, Mr. John Barrett.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: And now a clear summary of that lecture that anyone can understand in seven words. On your mark, get set, go.

FRANKLIN: Equal, opposite, attractive, repulsive, bang, ding, crash, ow.

(APPLAUSE)

FLATOW: If you'd like more Ig excitement, visit ScienceFriday.com/Ig Nobel for an eyewitness account of the ceremonies. The awards are produced each year by the editors of the science humor magazine the Annals of Improbably Research. You can find out more about them at Improbable.com. We're going to take a break. Stay with us. We'll be back with more Ig Nobel action after this.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FLATOW: I'm Ira Flatow and you're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ABRAMS: OK. I've just been given the signal that the show needs to commence, so please get your paper airplanes ready to throw . Will the minor gomos please remove the bed sheets from the human aradone. And, please audience, display the admirable force of your personality...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ABRAMS: ...and prepare your airplanes for launch. I will count down from five to zero, so get set. T-minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FLATOW: This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. If you're just joining us, we're playing highlights from this year's Ig Nobel Awards ceremony, research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think. It was recorded in September of this year at Harvard Sanders Theater. Here's Ig Nobel master of ceremonies Mark Abrams.

ABRAMS: Now let's get it over with. Ladies and gentlemen, the awarding of the 2013 Ig Nobel Prizes. We're giving out ten prizes. The winners come from many nations. This year's winners have truly earned their prizes. Karen, tell them what they've won.

KAREN: This year's winners each get an Ig Nobel Prize.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: What else?

KAREN: A piece of paper saying they've won an Ig Nobel Prize.

(APPLAUSE)

KAREN: It's signed by several Nobel laureates.

ABRAMS: Do they get any money?

KAREN: $10 trillion.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: $10 trillion?

KAREN: $10 trillion.

ABRAMS: 10 trillion U.S. dollars?

KAREN: Zimbabwean dollars.

(LAUGHTER)

KAREN: A Zimbabwean 10 trillion dollar bill.

ABRAMS: How nice. Thank you, Karen. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the coveted Ig Nobel Prize.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: This year's prize is a hammer sealed inside a transparent glass box with a sign on the outside that says in case of emergency use hammer to break glass.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS: And now the prizes. The medicine prize.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: The Ig Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to Masatera Yuchiama, Sean Yuen Gin, Chijon, Toshihito Hereg, Atsushi Amano, Hisashi Bashuda and Masanori Neimi of Japan, China and the UK for assessing the effect of listening to opera on heart transplant patients who are mice.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: Please welcome Masatera Yuchiama, Sean Yuen Gin and Masanori Neimi.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Thank you. Thank you so much. Tonight is a great one for us and for all the person who are interested in brain and (unintelligible). Using mouse heart transplantation motor into the (unintelligible) we did show the pulse of the music of famous opera "La Traviata."

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Generating (unintelligible) and prolonged (unintelligible). We say, we hope and we believe this (unintelligible) are immediately used for (unintelligible) and make people laugh and then sing. Brain can control immune system.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I have to say (unintelligible).

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ABRAMS: You can collect your 10 trillion dollar bill from the Nobel laureates over there.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS: The psychology prize. The Ig Nobel Prize for psychology is awarded to Laurant Begu, Brad Bushman, Uman Zerhuni, Bati Subra and Medi Oriba of France, the Netherlands, Poland and the U.S.A. for confirming by experiment that people who think they are drunk also think they are attractive.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: Please welcome Brad Bushman, Laurant Begu and Medi Oriba.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: The dedication to (unintelligible) with whom I shared my best beers.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: We (unintelligible) that we would find a correlation between perceptions of once attraction and people's intoxication. We show (unintelligible) drunk people feel more appealing. Something links what their perceptions are and it's (unintelligible). So next it was to investigate (unintelligible) we experimented more (unintelligible) to know why (unintelligible) feel less ugly. It seems the results of the whole story (unintelligible) are sexy it just (unintelligible) expectancy (unintelligible).

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Unintelligible).

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

ABRAMS: The biology and astronomy prize.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: The Ig Nobel Prize awarded jointly in biology and astronomy is awarded to Marie Dak, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne, Clark Schultz and Eric Warrant of Sweden, South Africa, Germany, Australia and the UK for discovering that when dung beetles get lost they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAMS: Please welcome Marie Dak, Emily Baird, Marcus Byrne and Eric Warrant.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Dung beetles (unintelligible) of pooh. We explore how a sky compass works by watching dung beetles (unintelligible) of pooh. And ask how.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: We ask everyone to raise their eyes from a dung path to the sky. Here a lonely nocturnal wanderer of fine guidance. Seen through the eyes of beetles, the African moon and the stars leads the way to their success.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: Hats on beetles and planetarium shows tell us how all creatures great and small avoid getting lost in the dark. The clever compass uses the stars, the bright stripe of light in the Milky Way. Milk.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: South African dung beetles teach us that to do good science you've got to have balls.

(APPLAUSE)

MARC ABRAHAMS: You can collect your $10 trillion from the Nobel laureates here.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: The safety engineering prize.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: The Ig Nobel Prize for Safety Engineering is awarded to the late Gustano Pizzo of the USA for inventing an electro-mechanical system to trap airplane hijackers. The system drops a hijacker through trap doors, seals him into a package, then drops the encapsulated hijacker through the airplane's specially-installed bomb bay doors, whence he parachutes to earth, where police, having been alerted by radio, await his arrival.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: The winner's brother and sister had planned to be with us tonight but unfortunately are not able to travel.

(LAUGHTER)

FLATOW: The ceremonies featured a mini-opera entitled "The Blonsky Device," a musical saga about a real-life pair of inventors who created a machine to assist women in giving birth via centrifugal force. Here's a sample.

(SOUNDBITE OF AWARD CEREMONY)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) Now, will you please explain your stuff? I tried to read it but it wasn't clear enough. Not clear enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) It helps a woman birth a child.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) That's rather wild.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) You put her on the table that is motorized.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) That would be sized.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) A woman lies down on her back.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) She's on a rack.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) And then you rotate her at 60 RPM.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) I must (unintelligible)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) And so the child comes flying out. It's quick and fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) I think we've got it.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (singing) It's very simple. It's a simple and miraculous for delivery of babies. With a turntable that speeds the mother and ejects the child.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) There, there's...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Pulsating.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) ...simple...

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) Rotating.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) Out there.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) No danger...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Singing) Out there.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing) ...for the safety. No danger. Many safe parts. Many safe parts. Many safe parts. Many safe parts. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) Must use with ballast water...

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: It's time for the Win a Date with a Nobel Laureate Contest.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: Here's Karen Hopkin to tell us about our Laureate.

DR. KAREN HOPKIN: Thank you, Snugglebug. He's big and he's manly and he likes a clean floor.

(LAUGHTER)

HOPKIN: Tonight's Win a Date prize is all that and more. Professor Roy Glauber won the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics for his penetrating insights into the interactions between light and matter. A connoisseur of all things optical, Roy built his first telescope at the age of 12. Some of his best friends are constellations, but for one night you can be the center of his universe.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

HOPKIN: Let's give a warm Win a Date welcome to Roy Glauber.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: Now, let's see which lucky audience member will win a date with this Nobel laureate. When you entered the hall the ushers handed you an attractive printed program. Pick it up and look through it. If your program is the one that contains a photograph of Thomas Hunt Morgan wielding a flyswatter, then you have won a date with this Nobel laureate. If that's you, come on up and claim your prize.

(APPLAUSE)

FLATOW: If you'd like more Ig excitement, visit sciencefriday.com/ignobel for an eyewitness account of the ceremonies. I'm Ira Flatow and you're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF AWARD CEREMONY)

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: A Physics Prize.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: The Ig Nobel Prize for Physics is awarded to Alberto Minetti, Yuri Ivanenko, Germana Cappellini, Nadia Dominici, Francesco Lacquaniti, of Italy, the U.K., Switzerland, Russia, and France for discovering that some people would be physically capable of running across the surface of a pond if those people and that pond were on the moon.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: Please welcome Alberto Minetti and Yuri Ivanenko.

ALBERTO MINETTI: Have you ever had dreams about swimming like fishes, flying as birds, hovering in the 3-D space? Well, today we report that even unconceivable gaits and unconceivable feats as running on the surface of a small pond, which only some lizards and birds are able to do, is also possible for humans. The only problem is that those humans and the pond need to be on another planet.

(LAUGHTER)

YURI IVANENKO: By using a special system and feats, we found that the level of gravity and - below which running on water is feasible. We ran a contest using the solar system for the most suitable planet and the winner is...

MINETTI: The envelope is yours. Oh, thank you. The Moon.

(LAUGHTER)

IVANENKO: Actually, our study opens exobiology. It borrows the potential gaits of extraterrestrials alive in the universe.

MISS SWEETIE POO: Please stop. I'm bored!

IVANENKO: Oh.

POO: Please stop. I'm bored.

MINETTI: Yes. We are currently working on the human...

POO: Please stop. I'm bored.

MINETTI: ...flopping flight, keeping that with a secure interest.

POO: I'm bored. Please stop. I'm bored.

MINETTI: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: You can collect your $10 trillion from the Nobel laureates over there.

FLATOW: We're going to take a break. Stay with us. We'll be back with more Ig Nobel action after this. I'm Ira Flatow and you're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FLATOW: This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. And we now return you to Harvard's Sanders Theater for highlights from this year's Ig Nobel Award Ceremony

(SOUNDBITE OF AWARD CEREMONY)

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: The Ig Nobel Prize in chemistry is awarded to Shinsuke Imai, Nobuaki Tsuge, Muneaki Tomotake, Yoshiaki Nagatome, Toshiyuki Nagata and Hidehiko Kumgai of Japan and Germany for discovering that the biochemical process by which onions make people cry is even more complicated than scientists had previously realized. Please welcome the entire team.

(APPLAUSE)

SHINSUKE IMAI: This is an onion. Onion can force you to cry. First I want to say, thank, all the people who have forced to cry by onion. Many researchers have tried to explain how onion make you cry. Unfortunately, but fortunately for us, they overlook the most important enzyme in tear-inducing effect. Our team found new enzymes that make you cry. Our discovery opened a door to the development of (unintelligible) and tearless onion. In other word, Ig Nobel onion.

(LAUGHTER)

IMAI: Which do you like? Tearful onion or tearless?

POO: Please stop.

(APPLAUSE)

IMAI: Ig Nobel onion. Thank you.

ABRAHAMS: The archaeology prize.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: The Ig Nobel Prize in Archaeology is awarded to Brian Crandall and Peter Stahl of Canada and the U.S.A., for parboiling a dead shrew, and then swallowing the shrew without chewing.

(SOUNDBITE OF GROANS)

ABRAHAMS: And then carefully examining everything excreted during subsequent days.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: All so they could see which bones would dissolve inside the human digestive system, and which bones would not. Please welcome Brian Crandall.

(APPLAUSE)

BRIAN CRANDALL: We are duplicating the study and we will be recruiting volunteers outside.

(LAUGHTER)

CRANDALL: We're moving bigger now. I actually did this research when I was an undergraduate 20 years ago so I'm glad finally some recognition came, but...

(LAUGHTER)

CRANDALL: ...but this reflects my approach to science which is to not force it.

(SOUNDBITE OF GROANS)

CRANDALL: Embrace the mystery of it. Pursue with passion and just have fun. My current job is outside of the university setting. I actually teach science to kids. I get hired to travel to schools and spark an interest in science in children while they're young, before they get too old to lose the interest in it.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERS)

CRANDALL: Thank you. So just a couple of quick thank-yous. Peter Stahl, my co-author on this paper, I want to thank you for your enthusiastic support of this crazy, crazy idea. I'd like to also thank Curt Pueschel of the Binghamton University Biology Department who let an undergraduate have access to the scanning electron microscope.

(LAUGHTER)

CRANDALL: And also the other faculty at the Binghamton University Anthropology Department who, such as Ann Stahl and McGuire who shared their passion and excitement for what they do. Thank you.

FLATOW: The awards are produced each year by the editors of the science humor magazine The Annals of Improbable Research. You can find out more about them at improbable.com.

(SOUNDBITE OF AWARD CEREMONY)

ABRAHAMS: We have a request. Calm yourselves, please. We ask you - we ask you, the members of the audience, to please hold your applause for this next prize.

Please hold your applause for this next prize. The Peace Prize.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ABRAHAMS: The Ig Nobel Peace Prize this year is awarded to Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, for making it illegal to applaud in public.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: And to the Belarus State Police, for arresting a one-armed man for applauding.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: The winners could not or would not be with us tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: Thank you.

FLATOW: Here's a little more of the Ig Nobel mini-opera The Blonsky Device.

(SOUNDBITE OF AWARDS CEREMONY)

MARTIN KELLY: (as George Blonsky) (singing) It's about time, my dear.

MARIA FERRANTE: (as Charlotte Blonsky) (singing) It's about time, my dear. After many, many, many, many months I'm very, very, very, very ready for a change.

KELLY: (as George Blonsky) (singing) Round about time, my dear.

FERRANTE: (as Charlotte Blonsky) (singing) Round about time, my dear.

KELLY: (as George Blonsky) (singing) Have me-me-me-me...

FERRANTE: (as Charlotte Blonsky) To nee--nee--nee-nee...

KELLY: (as George Blonsky) (singing) ...the-the-the-the...

FERRANTE: (as Charlotte Blonsky) (singing) ...my nee-nee-nee-nee...

KELLY: (as George Blonsky) ...months that made me.

FERRANTE: (as Charlotte Blonsky) (singing) ...my need for a change.

KELLY: (as George Blonsky) (singing) Waiting and waiting and waiting uncomfortably.

FERRANTE: (as Charlotte Blonsky) (singing) Waiting and waiting and waiting uncomfortably. Anxious and eager and no in between.

KELLY: (as George Blonsky) (singing) Now, now, now, now...

FERRANTE: (as Charlotte Blonsky) (singing) I'm anxious and (unintelligible) to a machine.

KELLY: (as George Blonsky) (singing) ...now, now, now, now.

MILES RIND: (as the Patent Examiner) (singing) Such a delightful machine. Such a delightful machine. Far from routine, far from routine. Kind of a trampoline. Such a hygienic machine. Such a hygienic machine. So very clean. So very clean. Seemingly so pristine. We need to check each detail. We need to check each detail. Every detail. Any detail. Any detail could fail. We need to check each detail. We need to check each detail.

RIND: (as the Patent Examiner) Any detail, any detail, any detail could fail.

PHILIP LIMA: (as the Zookeeper) (singing) Why don't you examine it? What could it be?

KELLY: (as George Blonsky) (singing) I'll be happy to look at it.

RIND: (as the Zookeeper) (singing) I have to examine it. What can it be?

KELLY: (as George Blonsky) (singing) Take a heft look at it. Also examine it. Look at it. Look at it hefty, look at it.

RIND: (as the Patent Examiner) (singing) We've got to examine it. Look at it.

LIMA: (as the Zookeeper) (singing) Got to examine it. Look at it. Crafty, look at the anti-friction very remarkable shaft.

RIND: (as the Patent Examiner) Crafty, look at the autoballast plan with gauges for (unintelligible).

MILES RIND AND PHILIP LIMA: (as the Patent Examiner and the Zookeeper) (singing) ...take a look at what, the safety net. Take a look.

RIND: (as the Zookeeper) (singing) Look at the bottom, the ultimate (unintelligible). Check the legs and make sure they are tightened enough. Look at the back at the peg and steel ring. That's your sign (unintelligible) like taking a bath.

LIMA: (as the Zookeeper) Check the body and worry if the patient's OK. So the mother is happy to face right way.

RIND: (as the Patent Examiner) (singing) Check the (unintelligible) and the peg.

LIMA: (as the Zookeeper) (singing) Having her back, which is something I dread.

LIMA: (as the Patent Examiner and the Zookeeper) (singing) Where are the feet? Where is the head?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: The Probability Prize.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: The Ig Nobel Prize for Probability is awarded to Bert Tolkamp, Marie Haskell, Fritha Langford, David Roberts, and Colin Morgan of the U.K., the Netherlands, and Canada for making two related discoveries: First, that the longer a cow has been lying down, the more likely that cow will soon stand up.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: And second, that once a cow stands up, you cannot easily predict how soon that cow will lie down again.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: Please welcome Bert Tolkamp.

(LAUGHTER)

BERT TOLKAMP: That would be a good opening if I immediately destroy the prize.

(LAUGHTER)

TOLKAMP: Ladies and gentlemen, I've been studying cows for most of my career and therefore I can speak with some authority when I tell you that cows can be really boring.

(LAUGHTER)

TOLKAMP: It's cow, you hear, that can be really boring. So when you research cows the best you can do is come up with a title of a paper that at least sounds interesting.

(LAUGHTER)

TOLKAMP: And attracts the attention of Marc Abrahams. Although I must admit that the behavior of the cows in our experiment was really, really disappointing. We all expected that these cows would be more motivated to lie down the longer they were up and standing. But these cows just kept hanging around and they never did what we expected of them. Although, in a sense, that makes it quite interesting.

POO: Please stop. I'm bored. Please stop. I'm bored. Please stop.

TOLKAMP: So novel ideas come up from counterintuitive results.

POO: I'm bored. Please stop.

TOLKAMP: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: You can collect your $10 trillion from the Nobel Laureates there. The final prize, the Public Health Prize.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: The Ig Nobel Prize in Public Health is awarded to Kasian Bhanganada, Tu Chayavatana, Chumporn Pongnumkul, Anunt Tonmukayakul, Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Krit Komrat--I'm sorry, Krit Komaratal, and Henry Wilde...

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: ...of Thailand for the medical techniques described in their report "Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam" - techniques which they recommend, except in cases where the amputated penis had been partially eaten by a duck.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAHAMS: The winners could not travel to the ceremony. They sent an acceptance speech. Their acceptance speech will now be read on their behalf by Nobel Laureate Eric Maskin.

(APPLAUSE)

ERIC MASKIN: Dr. Kasian Bhanganada, the lead author of the study "Surgical Management of an Epidemic of Penile Amputations in Siam," sends this acceptance speech. Dr. Kasian asked us to read the speech aloud here at the Ig Nobel ceremony. On behalf of him and his entire team: The team is based at Siriraj Hospital in Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand. Here is Dr. Kasian's speech.

Quote: "It's an unexpected award."

(LAUGHTER)

MASKIN: Unquote.

(APPLAUSE)

FLATOW: I'm Ira Flatow and you're listening to SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF AWARDS CEREMONY)

ABRAHAMS: Now, Professor Jean Berko Gleason will give the traditional Ig Nobel Good-bye, Good-bye Speech.

(APPLAUSE)

GLEASON: Good-bye.

(LAUGHTER)

GLEASON: Good-bye.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: Would all of the Ig Nobel Prize winners and the Nobel Laureates and the 24/7 lecturers and the opera performers now please gather at the front of the stage for a pointless photo opportunity?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: Please whack your hands together, shower them with self-esteem.

(APPLAUSE)

ABRAHAMS: Wow. On behalf of the Harvard Radcliffe Society physics students and the Harvard Radcliffe Science Fiction Association, especially from all of us at the Annals of Improbable Research, please remember this final thought: if you didn't win an Ig Nobel Prize tonight, and especially if you did, better luck next year. Good night.

(APPLAUSE)

FLATOW: That about wraps it up for us. Thanks to Marc Abrahams and everyone at the Annals of Improbable Research and to audio engineer Miles Smith for his help in recording the ceremonies. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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