Hank Suz-Chi Wan Memorial Lecture

  • Editor and Co-founder, Annals of Improbable Research; and Father & Master of Ceremonies, The Ig Nobel Prize
Distinguished Lecture Series

Update on Improbable Research and the Ig Nobel Prizes

The Ig Nobel Prizes, presented annually since 1991, honor achievements that make people laugh, then think. Winners have included: the inventor of karaoke, the doctors who tested whether Coca-Cola is an effective spermicidel; the father of [email] spam; the consumers of [meat product] spam; and the biologist who documented homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck. Marc Abrahams, organizer of the Igs and editor of the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research, returns to CMU to talk about the latest Ig Nobel winners, and about other improbable research from around the world, and to collect nominees for the 2009 Ig Nobel Prizes.

Speaker Bio:

Marc Abrahams is editor and co-founder of the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) and its web site, www.improbable.com and TV series. He is also the father and master of ceremonies of the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, honoring achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK. The Prizes are handed out by genuine Nobel Laureates at a gala ceremony held each October at Harvard University and broadcast on National Public Radio and on the Internet.

The Washington Post called Marc "the nation's guru of academic grunge." The Journal of the American Medical Association called him "the Puck of Science." He has been called many other things.

In addition to editing the magazine, Marc writes a monthly newsletter called mini-AIR, a weekly column for the British newspaper The Guardian, and a daily blog. He also writes columns for other magazines, such as Cómo Ves (in Mexico) and Le Scienze (in Italy).

The Improbable Research editorial board of more than 50 distinguished scientists includes nine Nobel Laureates, IQ record holder Marilyn Vos Savant, and a convicted felon.

Marc also writes for other publications, on science, technology, medicine, and other topics. He has been a regular columnist for The Harvard Business Review, the German science magazine Zeitwissen, the technology magazine Embedded Systems Design, and the engineering magazine Design News, and was the back-page humor columnist for the late, lamented computer magazine Byte. He has also been a commentator for ABC-TV's World News Now and on public radio. He is the author of the books The Man Who Cloned Himself, Why Chickens Prefer Beautiful Humans and The Ig Nobel Prizes. He edited (and wrote much of) the science humor anthologies The Best of Annals of Improbable Research and Sex As a Heap of Malfunctioning Rubble (and other improbabilities). These also appear in numerous translations (of which his favorite is Der Einfluss von Erdnussbutter auf die Erdrotation).

Marc has a degree in applied mathematics from Harvard College, spent several years developing optical character recognition computer systems (including a reading machine for the blind) at Kurzweil Computer Products, and later founded Wisdom Simulators, a creator of educational software. Marc is the subject of a Harvard Business School case study called "Marc Abrahams: Annals of an Improbable Entrepreneur."

For More Information, Please Contact: 
Catherine Copetas, copetas@cs.cmu.edu