About the 2003 Ig™ Nobel Prize Ceremony, and related events

The 2003 Winners
The Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony
........... (click here for ticket info)
........... (click here for delegations info
The Ig Informal Lectures
The nano-opera "Atom and Eve"

Downloadable poster
Thanks to...
Press contacts

Nine-year-old Miss Sweetie Poo informs Charles Paxton, co-winner of last year's (2002) Ig Nobel Biology Prize, that his acceptance speech has become too lengthy. Photo: Eric Workman. (Click on image to enlarge it)

The 2003 Ig™ Nobel Prize Ceremony

WHEN: Thursday, October 2, 2003, 7:30 pm.

WHERE: Harvard University's Sanders Theater.
(Info about how to pahk your cah near Hahvud Yahd)

WHAT: The 13th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. Ten new Ig Nobel Prizes were be awarded in categories ranging from Physics, Medicine and Chemistry to Literature and Peace. Nine of the ten new winners traveled to the ceremony, at their own expense, from several continents. The Prizes were handed to them by a group of genuine, genuinely bemused Nobel Laureates, all before a standing-room only audience of 1200 people.

(Click here to see press accounts of the ceremony.)

(Click here to see a photo-rich report published by Kees Moeliker, one of this year's winners.)

(Click here for previews in: The Telegraph, MSNBC, The Gazette, The BBC, The Guardian, The Sunday Herald, The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, The Boston Globe, Spektar)

TICKETS: The event was sold out.

AUDIENCE DELEGATIONS: Audience members who come to the ceremony with a group of six or more people can be recognized as an official Delegation. Every delegation will beofficially celebrated at the beginning of the Ceremony, and the very most colorful delegations will be chosen to parade ostentatiously into the theater. Here is the registration process:

  • FIRST purchase tickets for all the members of your group.
  • THEN call or email Louise Sacco (781 444-6757,, Grand Panjandrum of the Delegations, to register your delegation.
  • NOTE: The deadline for registering was Thursday, September 25. Registration is now closed.

INTERNET TELECAST: The event was telecast live on the Internet. Click below to see archived video of the ceremony.(Click here for details and video of last year's ceremony)

RADIO: The ceremony was recorded for later broadcast, on Friday, November 28, the day after Thanksgiving, on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation/ Science Friday with Ira Flatow."

THEME: Every year, the ceremony has a new theme. (The theme pertains to some of the goings-on at the ceremony, though not necessarily to any of the year's prize-winning achievements). This year's theme: NANO.

ADDITIONAL HIGHLIGHTS: In addition to the awarding of the Prizes, the ceremony was jam-packed with a variety of momentously inconsequential events. Among them:

  • Keynote Address by Edward A. Murphy III, son of the Murphy of Murphy's Law. [NOTE: Mr. Murphy will also be giving a special talk, two days later, at the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT]
  • The NANO-LECTURES, in which several of the world's top thinkers each explained their subject twice:
    FIRST: a complete technical description in TWENTY-FOUR (24) SECONDS*
    AND THEN: a clear summary that anyone can understand, in SEVEN (7) WORDS
    The nano-lecturers:
  • Professor Lene Hau, of Harvard University, the first human being who slowed light to a crawl... and then to a dead stop. HER TOPIC: Slow Light
  • Yan Emily Yuan, a junior at Boston Latin School. HER TOPIC: Memory
  • William Lipscomb, the 1979 Nobel Laureate in chemistry. HIS TOPIC: Chemistry
  • Genevieve Reynolds, a senior at Harvard College. HER TOPIC: Education
  • Dr. Eric Lander, the founder and director of the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research, and director of the Broad Institute, and one of the key pioneers in mapping and sequencing the entire human genome. HIS TOPIC: The Genome
  • The premiere of the nano-opera "Atom and Eve," about the romance between a lovely scientist and an oxygen atom, starring:
  • Margot Button, Jason McStoots, Tara Hunt, Greg Neil
  • ...and the Nobel Laureates and other Distinguished Scientists
  • The Nobel Laureates who handed the Ig Nobel Prizes to the winners:
  • Dudley Herschbach, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry,1986
  • William Lipscomb, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1976
  • Richard Roberts, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine,1993
  • Wolfgang Ketterle, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 2001
  • ...and others, some also in person, others in electronic form
  • The Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest
  • Karen Hopkin, creator of the Studmuffins of Science Calendar
  • A return appearance by 1996 Ig Nobel Art Prize winner Don Featherstone, the creator of the plastic pink flamingo.
  • A return appearance by 2002 Ig Nobel Peace Prize co winner Masahiko Kajita of the Takara Company, co-inventor of Bow-Lingual, the computer-based automatic dog-to-human language translation device.
  • Scientist Stephen Wolfram was in the audience. One lucky ticket-holder won a cup of tea with him, over which Dr. Wolfram will explain his famous 1200-page book.
  • Gala Introduction of the Audience Delegations
  • All (but one of the) speeches were brief, and thus especially delightful
  • Portions of the ceremony were simultaneously translated into several languages, in a manner most pleasing.
  • The Traditional "Welcome, Welcome" Speech
  • The Traditional "Goodbye, Goodbye" Speech
  • Other wondrous things.

* Time limits were enforced by Mr. John Barrett, the Ig Nobel Referee

POSTER: Click here for a free, downloadable 8.5" x 14" 2003 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony Poster.

Two days after the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, a related event:

The Ig Informal Lectures -- Saturday, Oct 4, 2003. 1:00 pm.

The IG INFORMAL LECTURES were held at MIT, in building 54, room 100.

(Click here for directions to MIT and here for a campus map showing building 54)

Free admission. Please bring friends, students, etc.!

A half-afternoon of improbably funny, informative, brief (10 minutes each), high-spirited public lectures:

  • The 2003 Ig Nobel Prize winners attempted to explain what they did and why they did it
  • Edward A. Murphy III described how his father and a small group of other remarkable persons gave birth to Murphy's Law. NOTE: Mr. Murphy also showed a brief videotape in which his father, Edward A. Murphy, Jr., explains Murphy's Law.
  • Author Nick Spark told the curiously Murphyesque history of Murphy's Law
  • Mark Fonstad, lead author of the controversial research report "Kansas Is Flatter Than a Pancake"
  • This free event was organized in cooperation with the MIT Press Bookstore.

    THANKS TO...

    All Ig Nobel Prizes activities are organized by the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). The ceremony is co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association (HRSFA), the Harvard Computer Society (HCS), and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students (SPS), and the new book Ig Nobel Prizes, to be published September 2003 by E.P. Dutton, New York, ISBN 0525947531.

    The live Internet telecast is made possible with generous assistance from the Harvard Extension School.

    The 2003 Ig Nobel Literature Prize is sponsored by the Times Higher Education Supplement.

    The Ig Informal Lectures are co-sponsored by the MIT Press Bookstore.


    About the Ceremony: Annals of Improbable Research editor Marc Abrahams, 617-491-4437. [On October 2, the day of the ceremony, if you can't reach anyone at AIR, please instead call the Harvard News Office.]

    About the new book The Ig Nobel Prizes, to be published by E P Dutton; September 2003: contact Erin Sinesky, 212-366-2223