Nobel Prize laureates will commend scientists on the papers that are not frontrunners for the real Nobel Prize at a ceremony Thursday night at Harvard.
That’s right: tonight, on the same evening that NASA scientists will celebrate Voyager 1’s historic exit from the solar system, Nobel Prize laureates will commend scientists on the papers that, well, are not frontrunners for the real Nobel Prize – but still have something valuable to teach the audience.
Tonight’s award ceremony, known as the Ig Nobel Awards, has been put on since 1991 at Harvard. The ceremony will include “genuinely bemused genuine Nobel laureates” bestowing awards on scientists whose projects “make people laugh, then make them think,” as the organizers, the Annals of Improbable Research, put it.
It will also include an opera performance.
The identities of the ten winners are kept absolutely clandestine until the announcement this evening, the organization says.
But, based on last year’s prize winners, audience members can expect to laugh – and then to think about why they are laughing.
The awards are meant to “raise the question: How do you decide what's important and what's not, and what's real and what's not — in science and everywhere else?,” write the organizers on their website. Why is a paper that solves the puzzle of how people’s hair turns green in some Swedish homes completely uproarious? Why is it so hilarious that scientists can now tell us that chimpanzees can identify other chimpanzees from photographs of their rear ends?