The IgNobel Prize


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Nana: Good heavens! What’s this awful mess? Whatever are you doing, now?

Nina: Oh this? I am trying to create a new material.

Nana: What does the material used for?

Nana: How should I know? I haven’t created it yet.

Nana: You’ve spilled honey, rice flour, wheat flour, detergent, cornstartch, vinegar and tea. And what is this?

Nina: That is beaten egg whites and this here is yeast and baking powder. These are all ingedients I am experimenting with.

Nana: Whatever for? The Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest ever mess?

Nina: No, Nana. This is for the Ig Nobel Prize. I am trying to come up with a dough that rises to at least quadruple it’s original volume after baking without dinintegrating.

Nana: Did you say ignoble prize? Whatever is that? I’ll be happy to award it to you right away.

Nina: It’s a satarical version of the Nobel prizes Nana for science experiments that make people laugh, but sometimes can actually be useful. They are awarded for achievements that make people laugh and then think.

Nana: You’re making this up.

Nina: No Nana. One Ig Noble prize winner has even gone on to win a Noble prize 10 years later.

Nana: Really, Who?

Nina: Andre Geim got the Ig Nobel prize in 2000 for his work on levitating a frog and then the Nobel prize in 2010 for his work with the electromagnetic properties of graphene.

Nana: Hmmph. Levitating a frog. Gah as Goon would say. How utterly useless. Do these ignobles ever do any good?

Nina: Sometimes, like research about the similarities of the smells of human feet and limburger cheese is being used set up mosquito traps in Africa to help deal with Malaria.

Nana: Whatever. So what will you do once you’ve finished this abomination, you call research?

Nina: I’ll write up a paper and submit it to the Annals of Improbable Research.

Nana: For what? The Lewis Carroll award for the most absurd article?

Nina: That’s a brilliant idea, Nana. Why don’t you suggest it to Marc Abrahams? Anyway I hope you come to the ceremony if I win an Ig Noble, Nana.

Nana: <rolling his eyes> Sure, why not? Where is this ceremony held? In Disneyland?

Nina: Of course not, Nana. It’s at The Sanders Theatre Harvard University.

Nana: What? Blasphemy! They do such nonsense at a sacred place like Harvard? That’s heresy at the church of knowledge. Your generation in incorrigible.

Nina: Oh lighten up, Nana. It’s not juts our generation. Don’t you remember Feynman mentioning someone once stole a door when he was there? Besides, these awards have been in existence since 1991. Do I look like I’m hitting 30?

PS: The 2020 Ig Nobel Prize ceremony video is available here. Enjoy!

This post is a part of the #NinaAndNana series I co-host with Lavanya Srinivasan. Her posts can be found here.

Tags: science, celebration, creativity, family, Nina and Nana, humor, satire