Harvard University's August Sanders Theater will play host tonight to a glittering collection of scientific luminaries, in a ceremony dedicated to recognizing some of the most important research of the year. And it will probably involve stuff like green hair, dead salmon brains, and monkey butts.
Yes, it's time again for the annual Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, where the weirdest and least useful scientific discoveries of the year are paraded before the public in a festival of bizarre nerd pageantry.
[LAST YEAR: 2012's Ig Nobel Prize winners]
To give you some idea, here's a couple of highlights from last year's ceremony:
*The psychologists who figured out that leaning to the left when looking at the Eiffel Tower makes the structure appear larger – a discovery that will have ripple effects in fields as distant as “looking at the Eiffel Tower while leaning right.”
*The guy who discovered that the average coffee cup is exactly the right size to produce maximum sloppage at the average person's normal walking pace, but everybody already knew that.
*The folks who created a speech jammer, which works by recording sounds and then playing them back on a very slight delay. It's like when your annoying brother copies what you're saying, but automatic! (Full disclosure: This writer was that annoying brother.)
*The biologists who discovered that chimpanzees can recognize each other's behinds as readily as their faces.
Other highlights from years past include things like the comparative tastiness of Costa Rican tadpoles, homosexual necrophilia in mallard ducks, an analysis of sogginess in breakfast cereal and research into the “side effects” of sword swallowing. The list most certainly goes on.
The awards themselves are all in good fun, of course, but there are genuine scientific luminaries on display as well – the ceremony features actual Nobel Prize winners as presenters, and at least one Ig Nobel recipient (Andre Geim, 2000, levitating frogs) has also won a real Nobel.
The 2013 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. A live stream is available, and, frankly, you should probably watch.
Email Jon Gold at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold. Please stop, I'm bored.