Laugh first, think second

Marc Abrahams, founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, to give a guest lecture March 19 at the MDC. He will talk about "Improbable Research and the Ig Nobel Prizes". The talk is in English.

Every September since 1991, Harvard University has hosted a particularly special ceremony to present the ten annual Ig Nobel Prizes, handed out by genuine Nobel laureates. As with the Scandinavian version, the scientists to be recognized are chosen through a rigorous process of selection. But these prizes honor achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think.”

That’s the way Marc Abrahams, the originator and emcee of the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, wanted it to be. The history of the Ig Nobel Prize, its winners and its rituals will take center stage on March 19, 2018, when Abrahams will give a guest lecture at the MDC on “Improbable Research and the Ig Nobel Prizes.” The lecture will take place at 1 p.m. in Axon 1 at the MDC.C Conference Center. Bring your friends; all visitors are more than welcome!

The world’s first phylogeny of pizza

Fun and fanciful science are also found in the Annals of Improbable Research, the magazine Abrahams has edited for decades. The latest special issue, which is completely devoted to research on pizza and popcorn, contains an article by MDC science writer Russ Hodge on the evolution and biology of pizza, carried out together with former MDC group leader Miguel Andrade and scientists at Mainz University. Pizza is a species that has long resisted analysis by scientists because it tends to spontaneously disappear from laboratory cultures. They collected data on pizza ingredients from across Europe to develop the world’s first phylogeny of pizza.