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Ig Nobel prizes debut


By Alice Gilchrist

The first annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, a humorous event named in memory of Ignacious Nobel, the fictitious inventor _of soda pop, was held at the

MIT Museum last night. The ceremony honored the inventors of "irreproducible" achievements in the sciences and the arts. Each winner received a parchment, a disc that "screamed" when it was flipped over and a fanfare from the MIT brass quartet.

Four real Nobel laureates were present: Dr. Eric S. Chivian of MIT (peace, 1985), Professor Sheldon Glashow of Harvard (physics, 1979), Professor Dudley Hershbach of Harvard (chemistry, 1986) and Professor Henry W. Kendall '55 of MIT (physics, 1990). Professor Jerome I. Friedman of MIT (physics, 1990) was "present in two-dimensions" on a screen directly behind the Nobel laureates seated on the stage. Each time a new Ig Nobel Prize winner was announced, a recorded message from Friedman was played, saying, "Congratulations,

your work is an inspiration to all of us."

The Master of Ceremonies was Marc Abrahams, the editor of the Journal of Irreproducible Results. He introduced the ten Ig Nobel laureates who received their awards in physics, pedestrian technology, education, chemistry, interdisciplinary research, biology, literature, peace, economics and medicine.

The prizes were given with tongue planted firmly in cheek. For instance, the economics prize was awarded to Michael Milken, "titan of Wall Street and father of the junk bond, to whom the world is indebted." Milken was not present because of a "previous 15-20 year engagement."

Vice President Dan Quayle garnered the education prize. He was cited for his skill as a "consumer of time and occupier of space, for demonstrating, better than anyone else, the need for a science education."

The biology prize was awarded to Robert Klark Grahm, "selector of seeds and prophet of propagation, for his pioneering development of the Repository for Germinal Choice, a sperm bank that

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accepts donations from Nobellians and Olympians."

Thomas Kyle's discovery of "the heaviest element in the universe, Administratium," was rewarded with the physics prize. The award also mentioned Kyle's achievements as "detector of atoms and the original man of knowledge."

The Pedestrian Technology Prize was awarded to Paul Defanti, "wizard of structures and crusader for public safety, for his invention of the Buckybonnet, a geodesic fashion structure that pedestrians wear to protect their heads and preserve their composure." Defanti wore a Buckybonnet on his head, encasing it in a cocoon of blue plastic straws extending six inches on all sides of his head.

The ceremony was overseen by "Salient Dignitaries," including Chief of Protocol Michele Meagher, Umpire John Barrett, the Swedish Meatball King and Queen and a representative from the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce (David Vlach). The dignitaries marched through the museum with the Nobel laureates during the Traditional Entrance and Exit Parades.

The Journal of Irreproducible Results, which launched the award ceremony in conjunction with the MIT Museum, is written by scientists and doctors from around the world. It has been in publication for more than thirty years. The Journal has been termed the "Mad Magazine of the Stephen Hawking set."