The Ig Nobel awards, now in their 22nd year, offer a moment of genuine excitement about what seems, sometimes, like pretty silly science. For example, past winners have been honored for studying the inadvertent productivity of procrastination, creating bras that double as face masks, elucidating the movement of a hula hoop (“Coordination Modes in the Multisegmental Dynamics of Hula Hooping”), and shedding light on the vital art of sword swallowing.
But don’t be fooled by the levity of the bra-mask: Seven of last year’s presenters were real Nobel winners, and five more Nobel laureates are expected to present the 2012 prizes tonight. Who can say, really, that the finer points of sheet wrinkling might not be terribly useful?
Regardless of its seriousness, this annual display of our collective scientific id is sure to be fun. As Marc Abrahams, the mind behind the Ig Nobels, the editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, and the author of a new book on weird science titled This Is Improbable, puts it, his work with the journal and with the Ig Nobels serves a serious purpose in a strange way: “I collect stories about improbable things, things that make people laugh, then think.”
If tonight’s event is anything like the previous ones, we expect to do both. We even dare hope for the return of Miss Sweetie Poo.
Live streaming will begin at 7:15 tonight: