San Diego Union-Tribune

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For his efforts, Chopra takes Ig Nobel Prize

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PETER ROWE
08-Oct-1998 Thursday

Champions of Southern California's unique contributions to
the world of science -- rejoice!

A two-year drought is about to end. A reliable source
assures me that within Harvard University's Memorial Hall
tonight, a great honor will be bestowed upon San Diego's
very own First Citizen of the Cosmos, Deepak Chopra.

The metaphysician behind La Jolla's Chopra Center for Well
Being and best-selling author of "Ageless Body, Timeless
Mind," will receive the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize for Physics.

"You can't quote me on this," said Marc Abrahams, the
apparently sane guardian of the Igs.

"OK."

That point clarified, an anonymous source close to the Igs
read Chopra's citation:

"For his unique interpretation of quantum physics as it
applies to life, liberty and the pursuit of economic
happiness."

"Got that?" the anonymous source asked.

"Yes."

"Good," Abrahams said.

Honor roll

Now in their eighth year, the Igs spotlight "scientific"
achievement "that cannot or should not be reproduced."
While Abrahams operates from Cambridge, Mass., his awards
often betray a Southern California sensibility.

Our honor roll, year by year:

1991. The Ig for Biology, to Robert Graham of
Escondido. "Selector of seeds and prophet of propagation,
for his pioneering development of the Repository for
Germinal Choice, a sperm bank that accepts donations only
from Nobellians and Olympians."

1992. The Ig for Peace, to Darryl Gates. "Former Police
Chief of the City of Los Angeles, for his uniquely
compelling methods of bringing people together."

1993. The Ig for Medicine, to three doctors at the Naval
Medical Center, San Diego. "Medical men of mercy, for
their painstaking research report, `Acute Management of
the Zipper-Entrapped Penis.' "

1994. The Ig for Literature, to sometime Los Angelino,
L. Ron Hubbard.  "Ardent author of science fiction and
founding father of Scientology, for his crackling Good
Book, `Dianetics,' which is highly profitable to mankind
or to a portion thereof."

1995. The Ig for Economics, to former Orange County
Treasurer Robert Citron. "For using the calculus of
derivatives to demonstrate that every financial
institution has its limits."

The Ig for Chemistry, to perfumier Bijan Pakzad of Beverly
Hills. "For creating DNA Cologne and DNA Perfume, neither
of which contain deoxyribonucleic acid, and both of which
come in a triple helix bottle."

But in 1996 and '97, no Igs went to Southern Californians.

From L.A. to San Ysidro, our greatest minds entertained
dark thoughts. Was it possible that our research
Renaissance had ruptured?

Thankfully, no. Along comes Deepak to the rescue.

Follies away?

The anonymous source was unsure if Chopra or any of
Chopra's lawyers will attend tonight's festivities, which
will include the traditional 30-second Heisenberg
Certainty Lectures, as well as the world premiere of "La
Forza del Duct Tape."

If you are unable to attend, highlights will be broadcast
Nov. 27 on National Public Radio's "Science Friday."

While the event annually attracts enough Nobel Laureates
for a good three-legged race, not every scientist feels
Abrahams' experiment should have left the lab.

Sir Robert May, science adviser to the British government,
once begged the Iggies to abandon this folly, "leaving
serious scientists to get on with their work."

Chemistry & Industry, a British journal, then scolded May:
"He mistakes discomfort for disaster, and solemnity for
seriousness. And he misunderstands the point, the process,
and the pleasure of the award . . .  Long may British
scientists take their rightful place in the Ig Nobel
honour roll."

May the same be said of our best and bizarrest.

PETER ROWE's column appears Tuesday, Thursday and
Sunday. He welcomes phone calls (619-293-1227), faxes
(619-235-8916) and e-mail (peter.rowe@uniontrib.com).

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