About the Igs

“The Stinker”, official mascot of the Ig Nobel Prizes

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that make people LAUGH, then THINK. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative — and spur people’s interest in science, medicine, and technology.

The Ceremony: The 33rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony will happen on Thursday, September 14, 2023, at 6:00 pm (US eastern time). The 2023 ceremony will happen entirely as a webcast, not in a theatre.

A New, Additional Event One Month After the Ceremony: This year there will be a new, companion event called Ig Nobel Face-to-Face. Ig Nobel Prize winners and other researchers will ask each other questions about their work. There will also be music and other good stuff. This new event will happen in the MIT Museum, Cambridge, on Saturday evening, November 11, 2023. TICKET INFO will be announced here on the web site. (This event will not be webcast live.)

Some History of the Ceremony

Every September prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, in a gala ceremony in Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre, 1100 splendidly eccentric spectators watch the new winners step forward to accept their Prizes. These are physically handed to them by genuine (and genuinely bemused) Nobel Laureates. Thousands more, around the world, watch the live broadcast online. During these pandemic years, the ceremony has happened entirely online. The 32nd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony happened on September 15, 2022.

For more info, see the list of Ig Nobel Prize winners,  and also the Archives (videos and details of past ceremonies)

“Last, but not least, there are the Ig Nobel awards. These come with little cash, but much cachet, and reward those research projects that ‘first make people laugh, and then make them think'” Nature

“It’s like the weirdest f-ing thing that you’ll ever go to… it’s a collection of, like, actual Nobel Prize winners giving away prizes to real scientists for doing f’d-up things… it’s awesome.” Amanda Palmer

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2022: A Prize for the Prize!

The 2022 Heinz Oberhummer award, for “outstanding science communication”, was awarded to the Ig Nobel Prize, in a gala in Vienna, Austria. The gala was webcast. Here’s recorded video of it:

This and That

“What’s it like to win an Ig Nobel Prize?” The Audacity radio program interviewed several winners, asking that very question.

The prizes and the winners both provide and inspire all sorts of adventures. Here, for example, is a 2020 gathering of Japanese Ig Nobel Prize winners and their dreams, on NHK-TV:

And here is an animated tribute, by the New York Times for Kids, China, to the 2020 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony:


Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the point of this? — To help people discover things that are surprising— so surprising that those things make people LAUGH, then THINK.

Who organizes the Ig Nobel Prizes? — The Ig Nobel Prizes are organized by the magazine Annals of Improbable Research. The ceremony is co-sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students and the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association.

Who has won this prize? — Ten new Ig Nobel prizes have been awarded each year, beginning in 1991. The winners page contains a complete list.

How do I find out about past years? — The Ig Archive page collects details, videos, and links from past ceremonies.

What are the Ig Informal Lectures? — At the ceremony itself, the new winners are given only 60 seconds to explain themselves. So… two days later, on Saturday afternoon, they get more time, with an informal audience brimming with eager questions.

How do you find new winners? — The Ig Nobel Board of Governors is always looking at lots of things. News reports, research journals, old books, trolling through databases, talking with people. But far more than that, anyone can send a nomination, and in a typical year we get something like ten thousand nominations. Whatever is not chosen gets considered again in future years.

How do I nominate someone (or a team) for an Ig Nobel prize?—Send nominations (please include clear documentation, or a link to clear documentation) to <marc atttttt improbable dotttttt com>.

Donate to the Ig Nobels

Has anyone ever turned down this award? — Almost always, we contact the chosen individuals (or teams) in advance, quietly, to offer the prize and give them the option to decline this great honor. If someone declines, we simply, privately withdraw the offer. Happily, nearly everyone who is offered an Ig Nobel Prize decides to accept, and also decides to come be part of the ceremony.

Are you ridiculing science? —No. We are honoring achievements that make people laugh, then think. Good achievements can also be odd, funny, and even absurd; So can bad achievements. A lot of good science gets attacked because of its absurdity. A lot of bad science gets revered despite its absurdity.

Are those real Nobel Laureates handing out the prizes?— Yes. At every Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, genuine Nobel Laureates physically hand out the prizes, and participate in the ceremony in other ways.

How can I get involved with the next ceremony? — IN THE PANDEMIC ERA, WHEN THE CEREMONY HAPPENS EXCLUSIVELY ON-LINE:  You can, maybe, throw paper airplanes.  IN THE NON-PANDEMIC ERA, WHEN THE CEREMONY HAPPENS IN SANDERS THEATRE: If you have five (5) or more tickets to the Ig Nobel ceremony, your group can choose to be an Official Audience Delegation and thus be officially celebrated during the event. To register as a Delegation, first obtain tickets from the Harvard Box Office. Then register your delegation with Grand Panjandrum of the Delegations Louise Sacco. The deadline for delegation registration is the Friday before each year’s ceremony, but tickets usually sell out much sooner.

If you or your organization are comfortable publicly demonstrating both a love of science and a sense of humor, we are always happy to consider volunteers, sponsors, and supporters. For more information on this, please contact us at contact@improbablecom.wpcomstaging.com . You can find us via facebook, via twitter (and post with the #ignobel hashtag), our blog, and our YouTube channel.

Is there any interesting press coverage about the Igs? — The Press Clips page has links to some press reports about the Igs.

What if I would like to read about the Igs in book format? —There are several books about the Ig Nobel Prizes and several of these have been translated into other languages. Many of the winners have written books, and many of those winners are also the subjects of books. Many of them have given TED talks, too.

What if I’d like to see the ceremony live, but can’t make it to Cambridge, Massachusetts? —You can watch the live broadcast each year here on the Improbable Research website, and you can watch videos of past ceremonies anytime. We present other events throughout the year and around the world that (we hope) make people laugh and then think. Find a list of our upcoming events (including the annual Ig Nobel EuroTour).

Is there a pattern in the prizes you have awarded? —  We judge nominations based on whether they make people laugh, then think. That is the only criterion. No other pattern is intended. Of course, human beings are surprisingly good at seeing (or imagining!) patterns, even in random collections of data.

Here are a few photographs and videos from past ceremonies.

This photo shows the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize winners, joined by nine amused Nobel laureates, take a bow as the ceremony concludes. (Photo: Richard Baguley)

2004 Ig Nobel Peace Prizewinner Daisuke Inoue — the inventor of karaoke — is serenaded by Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach (left), Richard Roberts and William Lipscomb, and by Studmuffins of Science creator Dr. Karen Hopkin. Listen to NPR’s report.

The Japanese public TV network NHK created this documentary about the Igs in 2002. Click above to watch.

The Ukrainian INTER TV network sent a crew to the 2010 ceremony. Click here to see their report.


Dutch filmmaker Bahram Sadeghi made six mini-documentaries, each about a different Ig Nobel Prize winner. Click the image above to watch the first in the series.


Andy Jordan of the Wall Street Journal attended the 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, and brought his videocamera. Click the image above to watch his report.


CBS News profiled the 2006 Ig Nobel Prize winners. Click the image above to watch.

2009 Ig Nobel Public Health Prize winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her inventiona brassiere that, in an emergency, can be converted into a pair of protective face masks — assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle, Orhan Pamuk, and Paul Krugman. Click the image above to watch.

The Russian network NTV traveled the world to interview Ig Nobel Prize winners. Their ten-minute report was originally broadcast in December 2007. The image here shows an NTV reporter visiting the (Literature Prize-winning) Nudist Research Library in Kissimmee, Florida.


WCVB’s Chronicle program did a five-minute introduction to the Ig in 2009. Click the image above to watch it.