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The Guardian does a fine job of reporting on the Ig Nobel Prize that has me pumping my fist while exclaiming yes each and every time I see reference to it. I've had favorites before, but never has there been a prize that I claim as mine.

"And what prize might that be, Geri?"

The PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, UK, USA]: Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.

REFERENCE: Creatures of the Night: Chronotypes and the Dark Triad Traits, Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 55, no. 5, 2013, pp. 538-541.

Heck, even the comments made so far on the Guardian site are good, especially this series at the beginning:

wiganwill 19 September 2014 12:40am

First time I have ever been around at the right time to make the opening comment and it turns out this suggests I am a psychopath. Great.

richardmuu wiganwill 19 September 2014 1:20am

Go to bed. Now.

chutzzpah wiganwill 19 September 2014 1:32am

It's not late.

Proper Psychopaths stay up till at least 3am.
Maybe you're just a Narcissist with Insomnia ;)


Okay. Gotta work now. And collapse. Excellent times in Sanders Theatre have me rather on the wiped side.

All of this year's winners are online at Improbable Research, and in worldwide media coverage.

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony tickets...

...go on sale at noon US eastern time today!

See the Ig page on the Improbable Research website for details for the 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on September 18th.

There will be a live webcast for the enjoyment of Ig fans around the world who can't be in Sanders Theatre that night. But I encourage all whose lives and location mean they can be there to get tickets ASAP. They tend to go quickly. Then start working on your paper airplane designs....

Also recommended: the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT on Saturday, September 20th. They're free, informative, funny, and more.
Ira Flatow hosts his annual specially edited recording of the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony today on NPR's Science Friday.

It starts at 2pm Eastern time. Gavi and I will be listening via the web. The Science Friday How to Listen page links to the public radio stations across the country as well as the free radio podcast via iTunes or RSS and the Science Friday app for iOS and Android.


Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony is TONIGHT!

The 23rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony will be webcast live starting at 5:35pm EDT today. Deborah Henson-Conant's pre-ceremony mini-concert starts at 5:40 and the ceremony starts at 6. Heartily recommended.

Also: The NSA Courtesy Cam This year we will also be sending out a second, parallel live webcast, the NSA Courtesy Cam, offered to the NSA, MI5, and the world’s other security agencies as a courtesy. It will show a behind-the-scene view of the ceremony. You can access that feed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeNdy_gsfE8 - See more at: http://www.improbable.com/#sthash.YpDNmKSg.dpuf#IgNobel</b>

See more
here and at the Who's Who.

Fans in the audience at Sanders Theatre will include DUFF delegate Bill Wright, paradoox, Lea, and others. NESFAn Peter Olson is a regular. I'll be one of the two people behind computers running the slides. (I'm the emergency back-up. The thoroughly-talented Lauren Mauer is in the driver's seat and I'm thoroughly thankful for that!)

Fun. Big, Big Fun.

A Subcontrabass Saxaphone Sunday

"...you’d need a trailer to transport it and the lungs of a horse to play it."

It's a pretty monster, even if at the lowest of its lows, it really just goes "blat."

And the winners are...

You can read about the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize winners in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, French, Russian, Portuguese, or a rapidly-growing number of other languages, and...

...the complete list of the 2012 winners is also available in English.

Big fun at Sanders Theatre! At the after-party, I got up close and personal with one of the Keromin and one of the smaller Kokeromin as well. They may look like frogs, but they do a good cat imitation, too. Though in 8-year-old hands, they're prone to leaping at your face with froggish intensity when you scritch them behind the years. Trust me, I know these things.

If you're in the Boston area, come on over to MIT on Saturday afternoon for the Ig Informal Lectures. The Keromin will be there along with the new Ig Nobel Prize winners and selected past winners. too. It's free. Room 10-250 normally fills up; I recommend arriving comfortably before the 1pm start time.

The 22nd First Annual....

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony! Tonight!

Ten brand-spanking new Ig Nobel Prizes as we recognize, honor, and celebrate research that makes people laugh and then think.

Last night's rehearsal was a hoot. Tonight's show promises to be even more so. If you're coming to Sanders Theatre, remember to bring paper for both deluges of paper airplanes, the first at the very start of the show. And if you're watching the broadcast live on the web, be sure to tune in promptly at 7:15 pm Eastern Time for the American debut of "Keromin," the Amazing Frogs, in a pre-ceremony mini-concert.

Print a few pages of the IgBILL and make your own genuine Ig paper airplanes to fly at the designated times. Or, if you like to burn through ink/toner and want to go giant-sized, there's always the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony poster.

I'm in the back-up position on the slides this year. Improbable Research intern Lauren Maurer created the slides for this year's show and is running lead on their projection. Given the sheer pandemonium marking my year, this was a super-wise move on Chief Airhead Marc Abrahams' part, and one I'm extraordinarily grateful for. I'll be clicking forward along with Lauren, ready to switch to my computer at a moment's notice should that be needed and also on hand to help resolve any other real-time problems that might crop up. So it's not exactly stress-free, but it's mostly just plain fun. It's my 5th year running slides at the Igs. We're doing a lot of things differently this year. Most of the changes are making the slide jockey jobs easier as a side-effect of improving the show for everyone watching it. Win!
I plan to head over to Kendall Square in Cambridge (the one in Massachusetts) tonight in order to catch the lively cast reading Improbable Research Reports at Voltage Coffee & Art. It runs 6-8pm. I hope to see some likely suspects there.
Chief AIRhead Marc Abrahams reminded me, and I'm reminding you:

Today is the annual day-after-Thanksgiving Ig Nobel broadcast on NPR's Science Friday.

They have edited this year's ceremony down to a radio hour. As always, it will be fun to see how they managed to do that.


In Boston, it will be on WBUR (90.9 FM) at 2:00 pm. It will also be live-streamed online by a number of stations.

Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony: TONIGHT!

The 21st First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony is TONIGHT! If you're not going to be at Sanders Theatre with me and 1200 of my closest, most intimate friends (most of whom I naturally haven't met yet), you can watch it live on the web. Showtime: 7:30 pm EDT. Who will be honored for achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think? All will be revealed amidst revelry, opera, and amusements.

The IgBILL pdf is already online. Your very own electronic program!
This past Sunday, AIRheads marked the end of the 2011 Ig Nobel Tour of the UK with this historic group reading of William Topaz McGonagall’s most famous bad poem, "The Tay Bridge Disaster." As you'll see in the video, they're obvious on a train. And yes, the train they're on is of course crossing the (rebuilt) Tay Bridge:

Two other McGonagall poems that had not been read in public in over 100 years (if ever) were read at the Ig Nobel UK Tour show in Dundee on Saturday night: Sterling Castle and Hawthornden.

There's more information about the lost poems in The Scotsman and Marc Abraham's column written for The Guardian. As the end of Marc's column explains, "Yes, this is the McGonagall whose name J.K. Rowling beststowed upon a curious character in the Harry Potter novels, and who inspired Terry Pratchett to create the Nac Mac Feegles, and provoked wonder in many other people and places."
Nineteen days. 2,573.8 miles. Priceless good times and at least one unanticipated adventure that turned out delightfully well. Yay, life!

Framework and Highlights, with many egoscanning opportunities thereinCollapse )

The Zeppelin Hangar was still standing when I finally pulled in the driveway Sunday evening. A heavy box was propped by the door. Inside the box, I found the beautimous, 608-page Acutonics book From Galaxies to Cells: Planetary Science, Harmony and Medicine. Noted typographer and book designer John D. Berry brought me to implement his design and do the layout on the project for Ellen Franklin. While most readers of this journal know John through his beautiful design work on fanzines and as a long-time science fiction fan, he's also the current president of Association Typographique Internationale, a past director of the Type Directors Club, and also former editor and publisher of Upper & lower case magazine (U&lc) and of U&lc Online. Heady company, indeed. I loved the opportunity to work with John, and would gladly do so again anytime, anywhere.

I'm both proud of and thrilled with the appearance of the finished book. I heartily recommend Asia Pacific Offset for printing enormous, 4-color books. Many thanks to John for bringing me in on the project and handing me the best, most complete design template I've ever had the pleasure of working with, and also to Ellen for her outstanding organizational skills, attention to detail, and patience as we brought the magnum opus to fruition.

So, yes, a great trip, and a great welcome home. Now it's back to the rest of that magazine layout and other work, work, work!

Another Improbable Day

Ten years ago, Andre Geim and his fellow researcher Sir Michael Berry won an Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for using magnets to levitate a frog.

Today, Andre Geim became the first individual to win both an Ig Nobel Prize and a Nobel Prize when he and his fellow researcher Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene."

As if that weren't enough improbable delight for a day, the Nobel Foundation website has a tradition of doing short telephone interviews with new Nobel Laureates. Nobelprize.org Editor-in-Chief Adam Smith finished his interview with Andre Geim by talking about his unique Ig Nobel/Nobel status and asking if he plans to display the two prizes together in his office.

And so the interview ended with the new Nobel Laureate talk about his pride in having won the Ig Nobel Prize, and the head of the Nobel Prize website following that by saying, "It certainly doesn’t seem to have done you any harm. On the contrary, I suspect."

Ah, yes. Not only do I love living in the future, I love living in such an improbable world.

Improbably Surreal

I've designed and even printed a fair number of name badges over the years. Well over 20 of them, since I remember when David Cargo drove me out to Eden Prairie on March 12, 1989 so we could merge the names using the type-sizing program he'd written and print the Minicon 24 badges and the job of creating name badges wasn't new even then.

But tonight? Tonight I printed a sheet of name badges I'd designed, then slipped the sheet into its own envelope for easy sorting next week. And on the outside of the envelope I wrote "Nobel Laureates."

Just call me Sensawonda Woman.

Stalking the Knitted Gangrene

Step 1: Go to bmj.com

If you see knitted gangrene, read accompanying copy. Then read Note 1 below.

If you don't see knitted gangrene (perhaps because it is no longer 23 September), please proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Go to the BMJ News tab

Repeat "If...." instructions above.

Step 3: Go to this Improbable Research blog post

You should see knitted gangrene there. Read accompanying copy.

Note 1: Once you see knitted gangrene and read the accompanying copy, you don't need to complete any of the latter steps. All links lead to the same information, more or less.

Note 2: For those wary of unknown websites, yes, that's the British Medical Journal BMJ. Really.

Note 3: The picture and article will also be in the print edition of this week's BMJ.

Note 4: Even in today's competitive college application market, I bet not many admission's officers see citations like this from American high school seniors.

Note 5: No, really, I had no idea. I mean, we knew the picture was going to accompany a short article in advance of next Thursday's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. We were darned excited about that. I had no idea that the article was going to be about the knitted gangrene and the young woman who designed and created it, or that it was going to make the main page of the BMJ website. Yowser.

Note 6: Screen shot behind the cut tag; click on that image for a sampling of other screen shots and article citation info. It's all hanging out in the gallery of Bacteria for the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony.

Note 73: The ceremony has been sold out for weeks, but everyone's welcome at the LIVE WEBCAST on YouTube. Thursday, September 30th schedule:
Test pattern: 7:05 pm (Boston time)
Webcast begins: 7:15 pm
Ceremony begins: 7:30 pm

Here's where to watch the webcast.

Also, the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT on Saturday, October 2nd, are great fun. Free admission -- but seating is limited. More info awaits those who scroll down the Ig page.

Knitted Gangrene at the BMJCollapse )

Signed: Aunt, Unca, Mother, Friend

(Ref: Robert Lichtman’s Trap Door #13.)

No microscope needed

Group shot: Bacteria for the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony Gangrene by Gavi
Knitted bacteria for the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony
Gangrene by Gavi
Bacillus with bacteriophage by Susan & Gavi.
Bacillus with bacteriophage by Susan & Gavi

Bacteria knit by Gavi Levy Haskell, Susan Levy Haskell, and Geri Sullivan in honor of the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony theme: Bacteria. Photos by Gavi Levy Haskell.

Click on any of the above for larger images or to see the rest of the individual shots. Knitting bacteria is a lot more fun than being infected by them!
Streptobacilli. E. coli X 3. Black death (well, purple death in this case). Salmonella. Bacillis. Corynebacteriaceae. Susan, Gavi, and I are busy knitting bacteria for use in the 20th First Annual Ig® Nobel Prize Ceremony. Why bacteria? In honor of this year's theme, which is (wait for it)...Bacteria.

Tickets for the September 30th ceremony go on sale at noon Sunday at the Harvard Ticket Office. Info and links at the Improbable Ig page linked above. That's Sunday as in today, August 1st. This will be my third Ig ceremony. It turns out that Ig fun is clearly cumulative. It may even be exponential; that's certainly been my experience since I signed on with Improbable Research a couple of weeks after the 2007 Ig Nobel prizes were awarded.

"I'm really excited about starting in on gangrene." -- Gavi Levy Haskell, 31July2010

Photos to follow, here and/or on the Improbable Research blog.

So, buy your tickets a come to Harvard University's gorgeous Sanders Theatre, host a viewing party for the webcast wherever you'll be come the day, and/or knit up some bacteria for this year's crop of Ig Nobel prize winners, Nobel Laureates, Ignitaries, and other Improbable suspects. If you send them to me, I'll add them to the petri dish that is my dining table and make sure they get to the ceremony.

It's Official

I just had Big Fun designing the cover of AIR 16-4.

Up until AIR 16-3, I pretty much always did the cover first. I think I'm going to switch permanently to doing it last. Immersing myself in the interior layout helps spark creativity, and the rush that comes with the covers I'm especially happy with makes for a great ending to the initial layout process.

Yes, the insides are done, too. I'm one of those designers who can't help but read the text as I work on page layout, so I've had lots of giggles and OMG moments as I've added layout polish this weekend. Those giggles and OMGs are among the many reasons I remain utterly delighted to work with Improbable Research. The material is always crack-me-up funny and informative. My fellow AIRheads totally rock, too.

Thanks, elaine_brennan and rosefox! It's going on three years since an intriguing LiveJournal post and timely replies provided the connections that continue to bring so much fun my way.

Igs on Jeopardy!

Yesterday, the 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes were a category on Jeopardy!.

Attention: UK Fen'n'Folks!

The Improbably Research 2010 UK Tour starts Wednesday evening with an informal tweetup in London (7:30 pm Royal Festival Hall bar in Southbank Centre. #IGUKTOUR).

The tour then continues with shows in Oxford, Dundee, Portsmouth, London, and Bristol. Most shows are free, but you need admission tickets. Ticket details at the link above.

If you end up seeing Marc Abrahams, Elena Bodnar (of bra-mask fame), Dan Meyer (of sword-swallowing infamy), or Maria Ferrante (singer extraordinaire), please pass along my greetings and keen regards.
Every year, Chief AIRhead Marc Abrahams writes an entertaining mini-opera that premieres at the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. The 2009 mini-opera, The Big Bank Opera is now online. I heartily recommend it for its timeliness and sheer amusement value as well as the talented performers, Maria Ferrante, Ben Sears, and pianist Branden Grimmett all under the direction of David Stockton. (We multi-task. David is also the bartender.)

I had the fun of helping with the props and SMOTHRA fans will enjoy spotting various Geri touches throughout the four acts. The diapered pig wasn't mine, but the bar signs, Treasury check, bar stools, rubber ducky, playing cards, and several other on-stage touches came directly from PROmote Communications and Toad Woods. I especially like seeing Maria's blue velvet hat in the videos and photos from the Igs -- it originally belonged to carnyjack's mother. It looked so good on Maria that I gave it to her. I still have Angie Targonski's hatbox and several other hats of hers; I'm glad the blue one found a good home as well as a bit of Ig fame.

Reminder: the entire 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony (including the Big Bank Opera) is also available for your viewing pleasure.

The 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony will take place at Harvard's Sanders Theatre on Thursday, September 30, 2010. Mark your calendar and do consider getting tickets when they go on sale in August. It's a hoot, and a great time to come to Boston, too.

Knowledge is Power, all right

Several of my friends have a special talent for exposing dodgy publishing outfits and related scams. It looks like Improbable Research has turned up another one, in the form of Strange academic journals, and quite possibly conferences, too.

Can anyone figure out what's going on at Scientific Research Publishing?

They say "Submitted papers should not have been previously published nor be currently under consideration for publication elsewhere." But that doesn't appear to be what they publish....
...is now online!

I've just enjoyed all four segments on the Improbable Research Vimeo page. I do recommend watching them in order, much as I won't promise they make any more sense that way. Even if you were in Sanders Theatre the night of the show and saw the whole thing live, the videos are a hoot. The cameras picked up lots of on-stage action that I was too busy running the slides (and too far from the stage) to notice during the show.

Please also take a look at the newly-opened Improbable Research and Ig Nobel Store where you can get your own "Please stop. I'm bored" coffee mug and many other Improbable items, too.
Please stop. I&quot;m bored.

Favorite Ig Links Du Jour

National Geographic

New Scientist

Elena Bodnar pulled in lots of leads for her Ig Nobel Prize for Public Health. I just discovered one in the National Review.

She even made the fashion news thanks to The StyleList.

In addition to the Canadian Discovery Channel segment, Elena spent Friday talking with reporters in China, Columbia, and other countries that don't start with the letter "C". I'm looking forward to the presentations from Elena and all of this year's winners who will be at Saturday's Informal Lectures.

Ig Nobel Digression: Four Bar Stools

At the Igs this year, the wooden bar stool I sat on while running the slides is the same bar stool Bob Weir sat on for three hours. Alas, not at the same time as I did.

My two wooden bar stools -- the ones with the black and white striped tops with carrots painted in the center of one and tomatoes painted in the same place on the other -- were on stage along with the comfy "saddle seat" bar stool the Reno in 2011 bid picked up on clearance just a week before the bid became Renovation.

Four simple bar stools, each with a history and the stories that come from that. Stories that are rarely known or told.

A quick Google search suggests that Bob's three hours on the stool took place on April 16, 2000. Coincidentally enough, that also happened to be my sister's 50th birthday.


Geri 2014
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