In Theory: A Short Abstract

Ig Nobel Prize winner Ray Goldstein is receiving compliments for his newly published biophysics paper—because the paper’s entire abstract is one (1) word in length.

The New Paper

The paper is: “Are Theoretical Results ‘Results’?” Raymond E. Goldstein, eLife, vol. 7, no. e40018, 2018. The abstract reads, in its entirety:


Goldstein is in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK.

The 2012 Ig Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Joseph Keller, Raymond Goldstein, Patrick Warren, and Robin Ball, for calculating the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail.

An Earlier, Longer Abstract From Another Ig Winner

A few years ago, Michael Berry, himself an Ig Nobel Physics Prize winner, co-authored a paper that has what some people called “the best abstract ever.”

That paper is: “Can apparent superluminal neutrino speeds be explained as a quantum weak measurement?“, M.V. Berry, N. Brunner, S. Popescu and P. Shukla, arXiv:1110.2832, 2011. The abstract reads, in its entirety:

Probably not.

The 2000 Ig Nobel Prize for physics was awarded to Andre Geim and Michael Berry, for using magnets to levitate a frog.

An Ig Nobel Tradition of Paying Attention to Words

The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Daniel Oppenheimer for his report “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.”


Michael Berry alerts us to his own favorite abstract, which is seven words long.