Sam the student’s view of the 2005 Ig Nobel ceremony

Back in 2005, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student named Sam went to that year’s Ig Nobel Prize ceremony and then to the Ig Informal Lectures. Sam wrote up his impressions:

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of attending the Ig Nobel awards ceremony in H****** Square. The “Igs,” sponsored by a bunch of Mensa nerds actual Nobel Laureates from both H****** and MIT, celebrate nontraditional research in a variety of disciplines. This year, awards were bestowed upon ten leading researchers from four different continents for answering some of the following questions:

1. Do people swim faster in water or in syrup?
2. What internal pressures are observed upon penguin defecation?
3. Are neutered pets somehow less happy than regular pets?
4. What about Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope is most appealing to a common cricket?
5. How can we best improve our nation’s economy?
6. Why bother to photograph and retrospectively analyze every meal you’ve eaten over a period of 34 years?…

6. Why bother to photograph and retrospectively analyze every meal you’ve eaten over a period of 34 years?

Well, I’m not sure this one has a clear answer, really. Dr. Yoshiro Nakamats, winner of the Ig Nobel in Nutrition, delivered perhaps the most inspiring and concise acceptance speech at the Ig Nobel ceremony:

“Life is long … should be longer … speech … should be shorter … Good night.”

Or perhaps this profound, almost poetic summation of the human condition merely seemed to be a brief moment of clarity amidst an opera dedicated to counting to infinite, programs being folded into paper planes and thrown at the stage (sometimes during the speeches of actual Nobel Laureates) and 24/7 speeches on animal morphology, primate locomotion, the purpose of life. The lattermost of these consist of speeches of 24 seconds that convey “everything there is to know” about a topic and then 7 words that summarize it in a manner that is “understandable to everyone.” Anyway, all this commotion left me with quite a favorable impression of Dr. Nakamats.

Then some other people on my floor went to the free Ig Informal lectures and discovered some more about Dr. Nakamats, as well as getting the distinguished scientist to autograph their program for him….


Read Sam’s entire assessment, on the MIT Admissions Blog.

Dr. Nakamats will be returning this year, to give the keynote address at the 2014 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on September 18, and then to do a brief talk at the Ig Informal Lectures on September 20.

(We do not know what Sam is doing these days, or where he is doing it.)

Here’s video of the entire 2005 Ig Nobel ceremony. Dr. Nakamats is awarded his prize at about the 1:08:40 mark: