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Second Ig Nobel Ceremony Held

By Eric Richard
Staff Reporter

The Journal of Irreproducible Results and the MIT Museum sponsored the "Second 1st Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony" in Kresge Auditorium on Thursday. The Ig Nobel Prizes are given to "individuals whose achievements cannot or should not be reproduced."

The first Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1968 in the JIR, which is written by doctors and scientists from around the world. The prizes were created in honor of Ignacious Nobel, the fictitious inventor of soda pop. The prizes were awarded in a ceremony for the first time last year.

Marc Abrahams, editor of the JIR, opened this year's ceremonies by explaining the selection process for the nominees. "They are nominated by an international community of scientists and pedestrians," he said.

The first award, in medicine, was given to F. Kanda, E. Yagi, M. Fukuda, K. Nakakjima, T. Ohta, and O. Nakata of the Shisedo Research Center for "their pioneering research study `Elucidation of Chemical Compounds Responsible for Foot Malodour.' "

The archaeology award was given to the Protestant youth group Eclaireurs de France for "erasing the ancient paintings from the walls of the Meyrieres Cave."

For their "bold attempt to assure disaster by refusing to pay for their company's losses," the investors of Lloyd's of London were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize in Economics.

Commending their father for his family values, Bob Cecil Turner and Larry Cecil Wilson accepted the biology prize on behalf of Dr. Cecil Jacobson. Jacobson, a "relentlessly generous sperm donor and prolific patriarch of sperm banking," was given the award for "devising a simple, single-handed method of quality control."

Citing Nobel Laureates Emil Fisher (chemistry, 1902), Richard A. Zsigmondy (chemistry, 1925), and Linus C. Pauling (chemistry, 1954) as her inspirations, Ivette Bassa accepted the chemistry prize for synthesizing bright blue Jell-O.

Breaking an Ig Nobel prize tradition, last year's winner of the education prize, Vice President Dan Quayle, was invited back to receive this year's award. Quayle, described as a "consumer of time and occupier of space," was given the award for "demonstrating, better than anyone else, the need for science education." A young girl, introduced as Quayle, accepted the award and said, "When I grow up I want to be President of the United States."

The physics prize went to David Chorley and Doug Bowen for their "circular contributions to field theory based on the geometrical destruction of English crops." Frank Laughton of the Shave 'n' Spell Crop Circle Corporation commended the duo, saying, "Crop circles hold the key to the revitalization of Russia, the Baltic States, and Eastern Europe."

Daryl Gates, former Los Angeles police chief, was awarded the Ig Nobel Peace Prize for his "uniquely compelling methods of bringing people together."Accepting on his behalf, Stan Goldberg of the Crimson Tech Camera store said, "Daryl Gates has done more for the video camera industry than anyone else."

For "54 years of undiscriminating digestion," Spam users were awarded the prize in nutrition. Dr. Jack S. Meagher of Harvard University accepted the award to the cheer of "Spam, spam, spam, spam."

Yuri Struchkov, the "unstoppable author from the Institute of Organoelemental Compounds in Moscow," was awarded the literature prize for his 948 papers published between 1981 and 1990. During the presentation of the award, it was announced that there would be a sign-up sheet outside for anyone wanting to coauthor a future paper.

Asking "young children and anyone older" to leave the room, Abrahams presented the art award, the last award of the evening, to Jim Knowlton and the National Endowment for the Arts. Knowlton was given the award for his classical anatomy poster "Penises of the Animal Kingdom," and the NEA was cited for "encouraging Mr. Knowlton to extend his work in the form of a pop-up book."

"On behalf of art, on behalf of science, and on behalf of the members of the animal kingdom, I thank you," said Knowlton as he accepted the award.

Three real Nobel Laureates, Professor Jerome I. Friedman of MIT (physics, 1990), Professor Sheldon Glashow of Harvard (physics, 1979), and Melvin Shwartz (physics, 1988) were invited to attend the ceremonies, but only Glashow was able to come.

"I hope all of you are enjoying this as much as I am," said Friedman in a prerecorded message to the audience.

Warren Seamans, director of the MIT Museum, gave the traditional Harvard joke, asking, "How many Harvard students does it take to screw in a light bulb? One. He holds the bulb and the world revolves around him."

Students found the proceedings less entertaining than last year's ceremonies. "I was disappointed," said Scott Centurino '94. "The ceremony did not compare to all the hype for it."