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Topic: Ignobel2011

The 21st First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony

Every year, in one of the oddest celebrations of science on the planet, a group of real Nobel laureates and science fans gather for the Ig Nobel Awards, a parody of the Nobel Prize designed to "first make you laugh, then make you think." If the Three Stooges designed the Nobel Prizes, the result would be something like the event.

As an indication of how odd the event is, consider this: For years an anonymous man swept the stage during the awards, largely to clear away the paper airplanes thrown by the sometimes unruly crowd. In 2005 he missed the show, however, for the most unusual of reasons: He was busy accepting a real Nobel Prize for physics. How many times does a janitor win a Nobel Prize for physics?

The ceremony is held in Harvard University's stately Sanders Theater, which becomes distinctly less stately during the goofy science experiments, opera songs about chemicals and genetics, and silly speeches (one of which forces researchers to summarize their life's work in seven words ). This year's show has been sold out for weeks, so we're happy to be hosting a live webcast, starting at about 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29.

You can learn more about the ceremony, including the past winners (which include a couple of New Hampshire folks), at Improbable.com, the web site of the Annals of Improbable Research, a goofy science journal that hosts the ceremony. www.improbable.com