About the 2004 Ig™ Nobel Prize Ceremony, and related event

The Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony (at Harvard)
........ Ticket info and Delegations info
........ Webcast
............. The Atkins Diet Opera
............. 24/7 Lecturers
............. Live Diet-vs.-Diet Test
The 2004 Winners

The Ig Informal Lectures (at MIT)

Downloadable poster
Thanks to...
Press contacts
Previews: Italiano / Boston Globe / Nashua Telegraph / MSNBC / Harvard Gazette
Press reports about the ceremony and winners (including a 20-minute report from China Central Television)
Peace Prize winner Daisuke Inoue -- the inventor of karaoke -- is serenaded by Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach (left), Richard Roberts and William Lipscomb, and by Karen Hopkin. Dr. Hopkin is, among other things, famed for creating the Studmuffins of Science Calendar. Photo: Kees Moeliker. (Click on image to enlarge it)

The 2004 Ig™ Nobel Prize Ceremony

WHEN: Thursday, September 30, 2004, 7:30 pm.

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

WHAT: The 14th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. Ten new Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded in categories ranging from Physics, Medicine and Chemistry to Literature and Peace. The 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. Full details and action pictures will appear in the Nov/Dec 2004 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

(Click here to see details and video of last year's ceremony.)

At the conclusion of the 2004 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, many of the winners gathered at center stage for a pointless photo opportunity.They were joined by the Nobel Laureates who had handed them the Ig Nobel Prizes, PHOTO: Kees Moeliker. To see an enlargement, click on the image.

TICKETS: Tickets were available now from the Harvard Box Office at Holyoke Center (open noon-6:00 PM most days). Telephone 617-496-2222.

AUDIENCE DELEGATIONS: Audience members who came to the ceremony with a group of six or more people could choose (by registering in advance) to be recognized as an official Delegation. Every delegation was officially celebrated at the beginning of the Ceremony, and the very most colorful delegations were chosen to parade ostentatiously into the theater. The delegation registration and ostentation process was overseen by il Louise Sacco, Grand Panjandrum of the Delegations.

WEBCAST: The ceremony was webcast live. Click below to watch the entire thing on YouTube.

RADIO: The ceremony was recorded for later broadcast, on Friday, November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, on National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation/ Science Friday with Ira Flatow." Here is the archived recording.

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: DIET.

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 2003 Ig Nobel Literature Prize winner John Trinkaus (author of more than 80 academic reports about things that annoyed him).
  • OFF-KEYNOTE ADDRESS by 2003 Ig Nobel Biology Prize winner Kees Moeliker.(who documented the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck).
  • The 24/7 LECTURES, in which several of the world's top thinkers each explained his or her 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
  • Rich Roberts. Topic: HEREDITY
  • Eugenie Scott. Topic: EVOLUTION
  • Barry Sears. Topic: DIET
  • Sylvia Earle. Topic: OCEANOGRAPHY
  • "THE ATKINS DIET OPERA" -- the world premiere of the mini-opera
    starring Jason McStoots, Margot Button, Jane Tankersley, Greg Neil, and the Nobel Laureates and other Distinguished Scientists
  • DIET vs. DIET -- A live scientific comparison test of several diets
  • In the photo at left, Harvard Medical School doctor James Michel (in white lab coat) weighs a volunteer test subject during the live diet comparison test, which was conducted onstage during the Ceremony. None of the test subjects lost weight over a period of one hour. The silver-colored human spotlights illuminate the proceedings. PHOTO: Kees Moeliker.( Click on the image to enlarge it).
  • The Nobel Laureates who presented the Ig Nobel Prizes to the winners:
  • Dudley Herschbach, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry,1986
  • William Lipscomb, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1976
  • Rich Roberts, Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine,1993
  • ...and others, some also in person, others in electronic form
  • Pre-ceremony concert by pianist/physicist Maria Eliseeva
  • Karen Hopkin, creator of the Studmuffins of Science Calendar
  • Gala Introduction of the Audience Delegations
  • All 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 to be enforced by Mr. John Barrett, the Ig Nobel Referee

POSTER: Click here for a free, downloadable 8.5" x 14" 2004 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony Poster.

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

The Ig Informal Lectures
Saturday, Oct 2, 2004. 1:00 pm.

The IG INFORMAL LECTURES were held at MIT, in building 34, room 101 (50 Vassar Street, Cambridge).

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


An audience member, spellbound, at the 2003 Ig Informal Lectures. (Click on image to enlarge it)

A half-afternoon of improbably funny, informative, brief (five minutes each), high-spirited public lectures, in which the lecturers gleefully answered questions from the audience. The lineup:

  • The new Ig Nobel Prize winners attempted to explain what they did and why they did it
  • Massimo Marcone of the University of Guelph presented his research about Luak Coffee, the substance that was honored with the 1995 Ig Nobel Nutrition Prize.
    [NOTE: Professor Marcone recently published the research report, "Composition and Properties of Indonesian Palm Civet Coffee (Kopi Luwak) and Ethiopian Civet Coffee."].
  • 2003 Ig Nobel Biology Prize winner Kees Moeliker. explained -- with photographs! --how and why he documented the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.
  • This free event was organized in cooperation with the MIT Press Bookstore.


    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, published by E.P. Dutton, New York, ISBN 0525947531.

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

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


    About the Ceremony:
    Annals of Improbable Research editor Marc Abrahams (+1) 617-491-4437, or
    Ig Nobel Media Coordinator Terri Rutter, (+1) 617-632-6533, mobile (+1) 617-233-8701.
    [On September 30, the day of the ceremony, if you can't reach anyone at Improbable Research, please instead call the Harvard News Office, (+1) 617-495-1585.]

    About the Books:
    U.K.: Why Chickens Prefer Beautiful Humans and The Ig Nobel Prizes, published by Orion; contact Gaby Young, (+44) 020 7520 4317.
    U.S.A.: The Ig Nobel Prizes, published by Plume Books; contact Sarah Melnyk, (+1) 212-366-2218.

    The new British Ig book:

    The first Ig book, now in paperback:

    U.K. edition:

    Japan edition:

    Italy edition:

    Poland edition:

    Dorian Color Lab


    Harvard Extension School