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The Ig Nobel Prizes

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The Nobel Prize recognizes the world’s most talented and innovative minds. Unfortunately, not all of the hopeful thinkers and academics around the globe can become Nobel laureates, but some are lucky enough to win the Ig Nobel Prize instead. Drawn from the world’s wackiest actual research, The Ig Nobel Prizes demonstrates the extreme measures that people will take in the The Nobel Prize recognizes the world’s most talented and innovative minds. Unfortunately, not all of the hopeful thinkers and academics around the globe can become Nobel laureates, but some are lucky enough to win the Ig Nobel Prize instead. Drawn from the world’s wackiest actual research, The Ig Nobel Prizes demonstrates the extreme measures that people will take in the quest for knowledge, and pays tribute to those individuals whose achievements cannot—or should not—be reproduced. Recent Ig Nobel honorees include: • The professor who proved that toast falls buttered side down more often than not • The Southern Baptist Church of Alabama which devised a formula to determine how many Alabamans will go to hell • The founder of the amusement park known as “Stalin World” Featuring these endeavors and many more, The Ig Nobel Prizes is an entertaining exhibition of brains and determination.


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The Nobel Prize recognizes the world’s most talented and innovative minds. Unfortunately, not all of the hopeful thinkers and academics around the globe can become Nobel laureates, but some are lucky enough to win the Ig Nobel Prize instead. Drawn from the world’s wackiest actual research, The Ig Nobel Prizes demonstrates the extreme measures that people will take in the The Nobel Prize recognizes the world’s most talented and innovative minds. Unfortunately, not all of the hopeful thinkers and academics around the globe can become Nobel laureates, but some are lucky enough to win the Ig Nobel Prize instead. Drawn from the world’s wackiest actual research, The Ig Nobel Prizes demonstrates the extreme measures that people will take in the quest for knowledge, and pays tribute to those individuals whose achievements cannot—or should not—be reproduced. Recent Ig Nobel honorees include: • The professor who proved that toast falls buttered side down more often than not • The Southern Baptist Church of Alabama which devised a formula to determine how many Alabamans will go to hell • The founder of the amusement park known as “Stalin World” Featuring these endeavors and many more, The Ig Nobel Prizes is an entertaining exhibition of brains and determination.

30 review for The Ig Nobel Prizes

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    I like reading popular science books that dig deep into something serious like genetics or something. But, a book that digs shallowly into something frivolous like the history and recipients of the Ig Nobel Prizes works just fine for me too. It's light reading, obviously, and some of it is gross, weird, and pretty much all of it is just silly. Which is, probably, what makes it so interesting. Marc Abrahams is the founder of the awards, so this isn't exactly an impartial look at the awards, and I I like reading popular science books that dig deep into something serious like genetics or something. But, a book that digs shallowly into something frivolous like the history and recipients of the Ig Nobel Prizes works just fine for me too. It's light reading, obviously, and some of it is gross, weird, and pretty much all of it is just silly. Which is, probably, what makes it so interesting. Marc Abrahams is the founder of the awards, so this isn't exactly an impartial look at the awards, and I do like someone else's comment that the book "tr[ies] too hard to make it seem like they don't take themselves seriously". Yep. It's all very ridiculous. What makes it fun to me is that all of the research in this book has been genuinely carried out, and some of it is surprisingly sensible when you learn about the rationale behind it.

  2. 4 out of 5

    pax

    Perfect bathroom book may not sound like an endorsement but it is very much meant as one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Pat Schakelvoort

    Although I despise the kind of "let's be brainy but try not to be edgy"-humor that is used. That is not too overdone and it's readable for people like me. The information is interesting and it doesn't go into patronizing the subjects.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    I'm a science geek and I've seen on Yahoo and MSN over the years articles announcing the awarding of Ig Nobel Prizes for seemingly worthless or off-the-wall research. Finding a whole book that provided the backstory of the awards plus their most notable recipients seemed right up my alley. The book was good and there were many interesting chapters, but I definitely got the feeling that the Ig Nobels try too hard to make it seem like they don't take themselves seriously. Unlike the Nobel Prizes, t I'm a science geek and I've seen on Yahoo and MSN over the years articles announcing the awarding of Ig Nobel Prizes for seemingly worthless or off-the-wall research. Finding a whole book that provided the backstory of the awards plus their most notable recipients seemed right up my alley. The book was good and there were many interesting chapters, but I definitely got the feeling that the Ig Nobels try too hard to make it seem like they don't take themselves seriously. Unlike the Nobel Prizes, the Ig Nobels are not given to great advances in such fields as Chemistry, Medicine, etc. but instead to research projects in many of those same fields that just don't quite lead to the furthering of the world as a whole. These are fully funded and successful research projects, but instead of trying to cure cancer, these scientists are determining the effects of anti-depressants on mollusks or why breakfast cereal gets soggy before the bowl can be finished. Again, not earth-shattering research. The entire first section of the book, albeit just 15 pages long, deals with the history of the Ig Nobels and all the 'clever' ways they make their awarding better than the real deal, such as having a young girl decide when the speeches the winners give are too boring and cut them off. While this might translate well in person, to only get to read part of what the winner wanted to say then a statement that the rest was cut off by the child doesn't work so well in print. In most cases, there is no need for the girl, as the winners of most of the prizes in the book are noted to have not been willing and or able to be present to accept the prizes, which are all handed out by real Nobel Prize winners. The ceremonies are usually discussed among the closing remarks of each project's chapter, as if the author didn't want us to forget that while the scientists did the work, the Ig Nobels gave them these awards. I think it's a cool concept and certainly better than reading endless scientific journals to find the peculiar studies that get published, I'm just not sure the book was written as well as the articles I'd seen online, and the main difference is that the articles online discussed the projects alone whereas the book was probably 75% projects and 25% awards fluff. Something I could see a fellow science geek liking, but not entertaining (like the Darwin Awards books I've read) enough for the general public.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rogue Reader

    A ridiculous book with touches of value for the time spent leafing through it. I've had this book on my shelf for years and had to read it so that I could clear the shelf. Ok. So. The Annals of Improbable Research. The Self Perfuming Business Suit was invented by a Korean man to conceal his nocturnal adventures from his wife - he reveals himself by sweating and body odor. In the same chapter, Filter-Equipped Underwear was invented by a man for his wife to manage her flatulence. In the Food for Thou A ridiculous book with touches of value for the time spent leafing through it. I've had this book on my shelf for years and had to read it so that I could clear the shelf. Ok. So. The Annals of Improbable Research. The Self Perfuming Business Suit was invented by a Korean man to conceal his nocturnal adventures from his wife - he reveals himself by sweating and body odor. In the same chapter, Filter-Equipped Underwear was invented by a man for his wife to manage her flatulence. In the Food for Thought chapter, notable were The Effects of Ale, Garlic, and Sour Cream on the Appetite of Leaches and The Sociology of Canadian Donut Shops. Perhaps the most interesting was the Ig Nobel Consumer Engineering Prize awarded to Ron Popeil, "incessant inventor and perpetual pitchman of late night television, for redefining the industrial revoluation with such devices as the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman" and others. The whole family seems to be invention minded as another member invented the Chop-O-Matic. Feuds over rights divided the family. I confess, one late night or early morning, I did call an 800# and buy a Ro-Ta-To (not invented by the Popeils that I know of), which promptly failed after one use. So I'm (easily) taken (in) by these devices. Oh, and The Evangelistic Index was pretty funny too, a calculation by the Southern Baptist Church of Alabama to estimate how many people would be going to hell. It was published in the September 5, 1993 Birmingham News. We must have been counted as we lived there during the census taking. Totally weird book I have to say. Now I can give it away. --Ashland Mystery

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This is a compilation of all the Ig Nobel prizes awarded to those inventors and scientists who are are the very fringes of research and experimentation and development. The blurb says it will make you laugh; and then make you think. It didn't make me laugh very often, but it did make me smile a few times. There were a few favourites, for example I didn't know that there was a British Standard for tea (BS6008), and that learned men have developed equations for the correct length of time to dunk a This is a compilation of all the Ig Nobel prizes awarded to those inventors and scientists who are are the very fringes of research and experimentation and development. The blurb says it will make you laugh; and then make you think. It didn't make me laugh very often, but it did make me smile a few times. There were a few favourites, for example I didn't know that there was a British Standard for tea (BS6008), and that learned men have developed equations for the correct length of time to dunk a biscuit. Other have used magnets to levitate frogs, and have perfected the technique for getting the barbecue lit. And too temperature. In three seconds. There are some mad people out there and some of them are responsible for things and other people! This book celebrates their achievements...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joanna

    These are rather amusing--kind of like The Darwin Awards of scientific experimentation. You can find out a lot on their website at improbable.com/ig/. Some of the awards contain information that is a bit too gross, disturbing, or offensive, so be careful. One pretty crazy award for "Medical Breakthroughs" was awarded for "Failure of Electric Shock Treatment for Rattlesnake Envenomation," which involved a man being bit by his pet rattlesnake and then attached, via spark-plug clips attached to his These are rather amusing--kind of like The Darwin Awards of scientific experimentation. You can find out a lot on their website at improbable.com/ig/. Some of the awards contain information that is a bit too gross, disturbing, or offensive, so be careful. One pretty crazy award for "Medical Breakthroughs" was awarded for "Failure of Electric Shock Treatment for Rattlesnake Envenomation," which involved a man being bit by his pet rattlesnake and then attached, via spark-plug clips attached to his lip, to his car battery. This is also where I learned of the existence of Stalin World, a theme-park in Lituania.

  8. 4 out of 5

    melydia

    This is one seriously funny book. Ig Nobel prizes are awarded to those who pursue (and publish) research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think. Actual Nobel Laureates present the awards and participate in the general shenanigans that take place during the annual ceremony. Abrahams's descriptions of this selection of winners had me cracking up repeatedly. It's hard to pick a favorite, though I did particularly enjoy Levitating Crime Fighters and High Velocity Birth. And yes, as is repe This is one seriously funny book. Ig Nobel prizes are awarded to those who pursue (and publish) research that first makes you laugh, then makes you think. Actual Nobel Laureates present the awards and participate in the general shenanigans that take place during the annual ceremony. Abrahams's descriptions of this selection of winners had me cracking up repeatedly. It's hard to pick a favorite, though I did particularly enjoy Levitating Crime Fighters and High Velocity Birth. And yes, as is repeatedly mentioned, all of these experiments are real. Definitely recommended.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Xanthi

    This book was fun to read. Loved the inclusion of photographs from the ceremonies. All very tongue in cheek. Pokes fun at scientists who although often do some important work, sometimes spend their time and efforts on really trivial, obscure and down right bizarre studies. But it is not just the scientists that get poked at - so too are politicians, writers, governments, officials - you name it. I particularly liked the writing style. Witty and clever.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Georgene

    This has been my "Back of the Toilet" book since last March (2012). Obviously, I don't spend much time doing that.... A funny book which has lead me to wonder just WHO is paying for all those weird little "scientific" studies that are mentioned in this book. I would definitely recommend this book if you happen to run across it. My son gave it to me and he bought it for one WHOLE dollar... :-)

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    The IgNobels are great and this book shows what interesting irreproducible research people undertake in the name of science. The book is careful to point out when the work the awardees did was unscientific, but why the committee felt the IgNobel was still deserved. I don't know that I'll read another of these, but I'll still check the website every year to see who the winners are.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Travelin

    I think people rating this lower than necessary may not realize that this is a work of nonfiction. It´s only one or two stars more before you´re encouraging 1000s of similar volumes of equally ridiculous, far less entertaining research.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Martin Crim

    This was fun to read in odd times or when I was tired, since the chapters are short and self-contained.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Reez

    It's insane, knowing about the things the winners of the Ig Noble Prizes did.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Samuel

    A must read for those contemplating a masters or doctoral thesis! The entity for which I work is included in this book! Check out the award for the most number of authors!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shelly

    Great examples of funny science and science gone astray.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12769490 I registered a book at BookCrossing.com! http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12769490

  18. 5 out of 5

    Frank Louis Allen

    Loving it so far, you wouldnt believe that these things where really researched, its stupendously amazing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dave Peticolas

    A selection of Ig Nobel prize winners. Interesting, but you could just save your money and visit the website. A selection of Ig Nobel prize winners. Interesting, but you could just save your money and visit the website.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gavin

    Sublimely silly: my favourite piece of modern art. The joke is the same each time – informality in formal contexts – but like modern art it’s the framing makes them. The titles alone: Williams & Newell (1993) ‘Salmonella Excretion in Joy-riding Pigs’; Wyatt McNaughton (1993) ‘The Collapse of Toilets in Glasgow’; Watanabe & Sakamoto (1995) “Pigeons’ Discrimination of Paintings by Monet & Picasso”; Solodi (1996) “Farting as a Defence against Unspeakable Dread”... Along with RetractionWatch and Less Sublimely silly: my favourite piece of modern art. The joke is the same each time – informality in formal contexts – but like modern art it’s the framing makes them. The titles alone: Williams & Newell (1993) ‘Salmonella Excretion in Joy-riding Pigs’; Wyatt McNaughton (1993) ‘The Collapse of Toilets in Glasgow’; Watanabe & Sakamoto (1995) “Pigeons’ Discrimination of Paintings by Monet & Picasso”; Solodi (1996) “Farting as a Defence against Unspeakable Dread”... Along with RetractionWatch and LessWrong and Andrew Gelman, this was one of my ways into actual science from pop science.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Laura Mitchell

    It is best to read this in short bursts. Some parts are extremely funny, others are silly, disgusting, weird, or dismaying. The reports of the Ig Nobel ceremonies show that scientists are just as capable of laughing at themselves as any other group of people. A light read which is good to fill the intermittent down time during the day.

  22. 5 out of 5

    T Campbell

    Charming light reading, if now out of date... you might enjoy going to the website and seeing what has received the prize in more recent years. "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit" at http://littlesvr.ca/grumble/wp-conten... is highly recommended. Charming light reading, if now out of date... you might enjoy going to the website and seeing what has received the prize in more recent years. "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit" at http://littlesvr.ca/grumble/wp-conten... is highly recommended.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Yates Buckley

    The awards are important, humorous and educational - the book is not as successful. The book simply archives the awards as if they all would reflect the criteria that make them win automatically. What the book should have covered is the process in identifying winners for this award, explaining the choices made, valuing the exclusivity of the award even if apparently silly.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bethany Beeler

    A great bathroom book of the ersatz and fascinating. This is not a Darwin-Devolution-Award compilation, as the Abrahams truly admires the tenacity of those who've engaged in truly weird research, and, it seems, those researchers, as well, enjoy a sense of humor about it. Lots of good fun.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kim Freitas

    Cute. I think I'd like to attend the awards ceremony. I do know how to make paper airplanes :)

  26. 4 out of 5

    庭昇

    funny book

  27. 4 out of 5

    Josephine Blom

    You would be surprised about all the stupid things you can learn

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mike Barbour

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ron Gastgeb

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