This year's event, on Oct. 3, will be the second to be broadcast over the Internet (www.improbable.com). These days, the festivities draw a crowd of 1,200 people, including many notables. But the show still aspires to be a small, prankish party. The audience can and will throw paper airplanes to express themselves.
As for this year's Ig Nobel winners, Abrahams says that's a closely guarded secret.
"Every year a theme or trend emerges, and this year we're all going to find out some interesting things about the intimate relationship between humans and animals," Abrahams said.
With the 12th Ig Nobel festivities beginning, The Wolf Files took a look at past honorees. Here are some of the notables and their innovations. Notable Ig Nobels
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION The Self-Perfuming Suit (1999) — When you work all day, party all night, and have a limited number of outfits, you might need a $400, self-perfuming suit, made of a special scratch-and-sniff fabric. The South Korean manufacturer, Hyuk-ho Kwon of Kolon, offers peppermint-scented attire can be repeatedly dry cleaned without losing its special feature. Just rub the sleeves, and your B.O. disappears.
PSYCHOLOGY Pigeons Learn Fine Art (1995) — When a pigeon leaves poo on a statue, is that a form of artistic criticism? Three Japanese psychologists at Keio University, were honored for training pigeons to discriminate between the paintings of Picasso and those of Monet.
BIOLOGY Airtight Underwear (2001) — If there's a market for Beano, there might also be one for Under-Ease, airtight underwear with a charcoal flatulence filter. Buck Weimer, a psychotherapist from Pueblo, Colo., says he was inspired six years ago, after a huge Thanksgiving dinner, when his bedroom got a little gassy. "I don't mind the jokes," Weimer says, but folks like his wife, who suffers from inflammatory bowel syndrome, can really benefit from Under-Ease.
PUBLIC HEALTH Nose Picking (2001) — If you are searching for a highfalutin word for "compulsive nose-picking," it's rhinotillexomania. B.S. Srihari and another researcher at India's National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, received honors for their probing medical discovery last year that nose-picking is a common activity among adolescents.
"Some people poke their nose into other people's business," said Srihari, at his Ig Nobel induction. "I make it my business to poke my business into other people's noses."
PUBLIC HEALTH Inflatable Doll Advisory (1996) — Most grown men don't play with dolls. But a few guys apparently play very intimately with the inflatable kind. However, before you get a little too familiar with "Rubber Rhonda," you might want to read a cautionary medical report from Ellen Kleist of Greenland and Harald Moi of Norway, "Transmission of Gonorrhea Through an Inflatable Doll," published in Genitourinary Medicine.
MEDICINE Intimate Zipper Injuries (1993) Three doctors at a Navy Hospital in San Diego received their Ig Nobel for a 1990 research report, "Acute Management of the Zipper-Entrapped Penis." Unless you've had such an injury, you'll never know the importance of such research. Moreover, our boys in the Navy deserve all the protection we can afford.