gerisullivan: (Geri 2014)
The Guardian does a fine job of reporting on the Ig Nobel Prize that has me pumping my fist while exclaiming yes each and every time I see reference to it. I've had favorites before, but never has there been a prize that I claim as mine.

"And what prize might that be, Geri?"

The PSYCHOLOGY PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, UK, USA]: Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.

REFERENCE: Creatures of the Night: Chronotypes and the Dark Triad Traits, Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 55, no. 5, 2013, pp. 538-541.

Heck, even the comments made so far on the Guardian site are good, especially this series at the beginning:

wiganwill 19 September 2014 12:40am

First time I have ever been around at the right time to make the opening comment and it turns out this suggests I am a psychopath. Great.

richardmuu wiganwill 19 September 2014 1:20am

Go to bed. Now.

chutzzpah wiganwill 19 September 2014 1:32am

It's not late.

Proper Psychopaths stay up till at least 3am.
Maybe you're just a Narcissist with Insomnia ;)


Okay. Gotta work now. And collapse. Excellent times in Sanders Theatre have me rather on the wiped side.

All of this year's winners are online at Improbable Research, and in worldwide media coverage.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
...go on sale at noon US eastern time today!

See the Ig page on the Improbable Research website for details for the 24th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony on September 18th.

There will be a live webcast for the enjoyment of Ig fans around the world who can't be in Sanders Theatre that night. But I encourage all whose lives and location mean they can be there to get tickets ASAP. They tend to go quickly. Then start working on your paper airplane designs....

Also recommended: the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT on Saturday, September 20th. They're free, informative, funny, and more.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
Ira Flatow hosts his annual specially edited recording of the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony today on NPR's Science Friday.

It starts at 2pm Eastern time. Gavi and I will be listening via the web. The Science Friday How to Listen page links to the public radio stations across the country as well as the free radio podcast via iTunes or RSS and the Science Friday app for iOS and Android.

gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
...I think I'll keep it:

Ig_DungWinnersBall_2013-09-13 11.08.29

"We ask everyone to raise their eyes
from the dung pie to the sky
here, a lonely night wanderer finds guidance
seen through the eyes of a beetle,
the African moon and the stars
lead the way to their success!"

The red pilates ball is signed by the winners who were at the ceremony.

Reference: JOINT PRIZE IN BIOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY: Marie Dacke [SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA], Emily Baird [SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA, GERMANY], Marcus Byrne [SOUTH AFRICA, UK], Clarke Scholtz [SOUTH AFRICA], and Eric Warrant [SWEDEN, AUSTRALIA, GERMANY], for discovering that when dung beetles get lost, they can navigate their way home by looking at the Milky Way. See the full list of of this year's winners!
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
The 23rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony will be webcast live starting at 5:35pm EDT today. Deborah Henson-Conant's pre-ceremony mini-concert starts at 5:40 and the ceremony starts at 6. Heartily recommended.

Also: The NSA Courtesy Cam This year we will also be sending out a second, parallel live webcast, the NSA Courtesy Cam, offered to the NSA, MI5, and the world’s other security agencies as a courtesy. It will show a behind-the-scene view of the ceremony. You can access that feed at - See more at:

See more
here and at the Who's Who.

Fans in the audience at Sanders Theatre will include DUFF delegate Bill Wright, [ profile] paradoox, Lea, and others. NESFAn Peter Olson is a regular. I'll be one of the two people behind computers running the slides. (I'm the emergency back-up. The thoroughly-talented Lauren Mauer is in the driver's seat and I'm thoroughly thankful for that!)

Fun. Big, Big Fun.
gerisullivan: (Frog on Rock)
1) Skin'n'bones Jinx is happily eating food with salmon oil added to it. Early signs are this is successfully dealing with the hairball issue. She doesn't feel like she's gaining weight, but she continues to act healthy and she's barely barfing at all, so I hold onto hope as I continue coaxing her with luxurious canned food.

2) Continuing on the cat front, they have both been demonstrating what mighty hunters they are of late. Tillie showed up at the patio door with a small bird in her mouth. Jinx seems to have taken that as a challenge and showed up in the same spot two day later with a bird nearly three times the size. Not to be outdone by her daughter, Tub o'Tillie bagged a chipmunk a few days after that. The mighty hunters of course want to parade their prey around inside. I've learned to check their mouths before opening the screen to let them in. If they catch it inside, they're allowed to gloat inside. But their outdoor kills can stay right there. Tillie continues her utterly adorable habit of picking up a catnip mouse and parading around the house loudly meowing what a mighty hunter she is before dropping the mouse somewhere near me.

3) Susan and Gavi expect to arrive here at Toad Woods this Friday afternoon (whee!), giving us a couple of weeks together (triple whee!) before Gavi moves back to Smith for her Junior (Yowser! Junior!) Year. (How the heck did that happen? She's wondering the same....) After Susan heads west, I'll have about six days before Jack shows up from Chicago for the September Brimfield show and the New England Carnival Glass Association's annual convention in Leominster.

4) Three days after Jack leaves (unless he decides to stay for it), the 23rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony takes place on Thursday, September 12, at Sanders Theatre, Harvard University, in Cambridge, MA. Big fun in person (do come if you can!) and also from the comfort of computers everywhere via the live webcast. Details of the 2013 ceremony and, if you'd like a sense of what to expect, or just a warm-up while waiting for 6pm September 12th, here's the video of the 22nd First Annual Ceremony last year:

5) So, yes, lots of socializing these next 5 weeks. All during a busy work time, of course, but that does tend to be how these things go....

6) I've been approved for a streamlined HARP refinancing of my mortgage at a welcome, lower interest rate (while also knocking a year off the length). Closing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Fingers crossed all goes as smoothly as it has so far!

7) Training for the upcoming social whirl has included two recent BBQs with friends, one with an added pool party thrown in. Also, a sunny afternoon with Ben at Citi Field enjoying the Mets beating the Phillies 5-0, with all of the scoring thanks to 3 home runs. Fun. And a rainy evening with [ profile] debgeisler and [ profile] benveniste at LeLacheur Park waiting for the last of the Jack Kerouac bobbleheads, then bailing instead of waiting another sodden hour to learn the game was cancelled due to rain. Also fun.

8) Things have been going well on several fronts, including my return to knitting. Once I add two short sleeves, two pockets, and three buttons to a dress for my great-neice, it will be ready to send her way. It's pretty certain to get there before she outgrows it.

9) Still ahead: moving from my current (old and failing) laptop to a shiny, newer, refurbished laptop ('cause I love, love, love the 17" screen on the MacBook Pro). Alas, moving to a current OS means moving away from Eudora, the email program I've used ever since I had my own email account. Arrrgh. I dread this. I know many have gone before me, carving the path and leaving lots of info and advice in their wake, but I utterly dread this. It's time to do it anyway. So, yeah, [ profile] minnehaha K., it's not that I went ahead without learning from your experience, it's that my powers of procrastination are mighty.

10 and final) After living here a mere nine years and trying five different hair stylists interspersed with cuts by Brenda Wodnick at Zina's every time I made it to Minneapolis, I landed with Massachusetts stylist #6 for the win. My hair looked great at Corflu thanks to Krissi at Jeffrey Robert Salon in Sturbridge, and I have my third appointment with her Wednesday afternoon. I was with two of those previous five stylists for longer than I've been with Krissi, but only twice before in my life have I been as happy with my stylist as I am with her. Brenda (~1992-on) and Jimmy (back in the early- and mid-1980s). So, yeah, one more piece of ongoing satisfaction and happiness worked out. Whew.

gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
You can read about the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize winners in Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, French, Russian, Portuguese, or a rapidly-growing number of other languages, and...

...the complete list of the 2012 winners is also available in English.

Big fun at Sanders Theatre! At the after-party, I got up close and personal with one of the Keromin and one of the smaller Kokeromin as well. They may look like frogs, but they do a good cat imitation, too. Though in 8-year-old hands, they're prone to leaping at your face with froggish intensity when you scritch them behind the years. Trust me, I know these things.

If you're in the Boston area, come on over to MIT on Saturday afternoon for the Ig Informal Lectures. The Keromin will be there along with the new Ig Nobel Prize winners and selected past winners. too. It's free. Room 10-250 normally fills up; I recommend arriving comfortably before the 1pm start time.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony! Tonight!

Ten brand-spanking new Ig Nobel Prizes as we recognize, honor, and celebrate research that makes people laugh and then think.

Last night's rehearsal was a hoot. Tonight's show promises to be even more so. If you're coming to Sanders Theatre, remember to bring paper for both deluges of paper airplanes, the first at the very start of the show. And if you're watching the broadcast live on the web, be sure to tune in promptly at 7:15 pm Eastern Time for the American debut of "Keromin," the Amazing Frogs, in a pre-ceremony mini-concert.

Print a few pages of the IgBILL and make your own genuine Ig paper airplanes to fly at the designated times. Or, if you like to burn through ink/toner and want to go giant-sized, there's always the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony poster.

I'm in the back-up position on the slides this year. Improbable Research intern Lauren Maurer created the slides for this year's show and is running lead on their projection. Given the sheer pandemonium marking my year, this was a super-wise move on Chief Airhead Marc Abrahams' part, and one I'm extraordinarily grateful for. I'll be clicking forward along with Lauren, ready to switch to my computer at a moment's notice should that be needed and also on hand to help resolve any other real-time problems that might crop up. So it's not exactly stress-free, but it's mostly just plain fun. It's my 5th year running slides at the Igs. We're doing a lot of things differently this year. Most of the changes are making the slide jockey jobs easier as a side-effect of improving the show for everyone watching it. Win!
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
Chief AIRhead Marc Abrahams reminded me, and I'm reminding you:

Today is the annual day-after-Thanksgiving Ig Nobel broadcast on NPR's Science Friday.

They have edited this year's ceremony down to a radio hour. As always, it will be fun to see how they managed to do that.


In Boston, it will be on WBUR (90.9 FM) at 2:00 pm. It will also be live-streamed online by a number of stations.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
The 21st First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony is TONIGHT! If you're not going to be at Sanders Theatre with me and 1200 of my closest, most intimate friends (most of whom I naturally haven't met yet), you can watch it live on the web. Showtime: 7:30 pm EDT. Who will be honored for achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think? All will be revealed amidst revelry, opera, and amusements.

The IgBILL pdf is already online. Your very own electronic program!
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
Ten years ago, Andre Geim and his fellow researcher Sir Michael Berry won an Ig Nobel Prize in Physics for using magnets to levitate a frog.

Today, Andre Geim became the first individual to win both an Ig Nobel Prize and a Nobel Prize when he and his fellow researcher Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene."

As if that weren't enough improbable delight for a day, the Nobel Foundation website has a tradition of doing short telephone interviews with new Nobel Laureates. Editor-in-Chief Adam Smith finished his interview with Andre Geim by talking about his unique Ig Nobel/Nobel status and asking if he plans to display the two prizes together in his office.

And so the interview ended with the new Nobel Laureate talk about his pride in having won the Ig Nobel Prize, and the head of the Nobel Prize website following that by saying, "It certainly doesn’t seem to have done you any harm. On the contrary, I suspect."

Ah, yes. Not only do I love living in the future, I love living in such an improbable world.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
I've designed and even printed a fair number of name badges over the years. Well over 20 of them, since I remember when David Cargo drove me out to Eden Prairie on March 12, 1989 so we could merge the names using the type-sizing program he'd written and print the Minicon 24 badges and the job of creating name badges wasn't new even then.

But tonight? Tonight I printed a sheet of name badges I'd designed, then slipped the sheet into its own envelope for easy sorting next week. And on the outside of the envelope I wrote "Nobel Laureates."

Just call me Sensawonda Woman.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
Step 1: Go to

If you see knitted gangrene, read accompanying copy. Then read Note 1 below.

If you don't see knitted gangrene (perhaps because it is no longer 23 September), please proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Go to the BMJ News tab

Repeat "If...." instructions above.

Step 3: Go to this Improbable Research blog post

You should see knitted gangrene there. Read accompanying copy.

Note 1: Once you see knitted gangrene and read the accompanying copy, you don't need to complete any of the latter steps. All links lead to the same information, more or less.

Note 2: For those wary of unknown websites, yes, that's the British Medical Journal BMJ. Really.

Note 3: The picture and article will also be in the print edition of this week's BMJ.

Note 4: Even in today's competitive college application market, I bet not many admission's officers see citations like this from American high school seniors.

Note 5: No, really, I had no idea. I mean, we knew the picture was going to accompany a short article in advance of next Thursday's Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. We were darned excited about that. I had no idea that the article was going to be about the knitted gangrene and the young woman who designed and created it, or that it was going to make the main page of the BMJ website. Yowser.

Note 6: Screen shot behind the cut tag; click on that image for a sampling of other screen shots and article citation info. It's all hanging out in the gallery of Bacteria for the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony.

Note 73: The ceremony has been sold out for weeks, but everyone's welcome at the LIVE WEBCAST on YouTube. Thursday, September 30th schedule:
Test pattern: 7:05 pm (Boston time)
Webcast begins: 7:15 pm
Ceremony begins: 7:30 pm

Here's where to watch the webcast.

Also, the Ig Informal Lectures at MIT on Saturday, October 2nd, are great fun. Free admission -- but seating is limited. More info awaits those who scroll down the Ig page.

Knitted Gangrene at the BMJ )

Signed: Aunt, Unca, Mother, Friend

(Ref: Robert Lichtman’s Trap Door #13.)
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)

Group shot: Bacteria for the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony Gangrene by Gavi
Knitted bacteria for the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony
Gangrene by Gavi
Bacillus with bacteriophage by Susan & Gavi.
Bacillus with bacteriophage by Susan & Gavi

Bacteria knit by Gavi Levy Haskell, Susan Levy Haskell, and Geri Sullivan in honor of the 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony theme: Bacteria. Photos by Gavi Levy Haskell.

Click on any of the above for larger images or to see the rest of the individual shots. Knitting bacteria is a lot more fun than being infected by them!
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
Streptobacilli. E. coli X 3. Black death (well, purple death in this case). Salmonella. Bacillis. Corynebacteriaceae. Susan, Gavi, and I are busy knitting bacteria for use in the 20th First Annual Ig® Nobel Prize Ceremony. Why bacteria? In honor of this year's theme, which is (wait for it)...Bacteria.

Tickets for the September 30th ceremony go on sale at noon Sunday at the Harvard Ticket Office. Info and links at the Improbable Ig page linked above. That's Sunday as in today, August 1st. This will be my third Ig ceremony. It turns out that Ig fun is clearly cumulative. It may even be exponential; that's certainly been my experience since I signed on with Improbable Research a couple of weeks after the 2007 Ig Nobel prizes were awarded.

"I'm really excited about starting in on gangrene." -- Gavi Levy Haskell, 31July2010

Photos to follow, here and/or on the Improbable Research blog.

So, buy your tickets a come to Harvard University's gorgeous Sanders Theatre, host a viewing party for the webcast wherever you'll be come the day, and/or knit up some bacteria for this year's crop of Ig Nobel prize winners, Nobel Laureates, Ignitaries, and other Improbable suspects. If you send them to me, I'll add them to the petri dish that is my dining table and make sure they get to the ceremony.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
If you're in the Boston area, head on over to the Cambridge Public Library for a May Day full of Ig Nobel Readings. It's part Saturday's festivities at the Cambridge Science Festival.

There will be four separate sessions, each with a different theme:
10:00 am — How Animals Behave
Noon — How People Behave
2:00 pm — Things & Inventions
3:30 pm — Boys Will Be Boys*

All four events are FREE.

*CONTENT WARNING: The 3:30 event will feature subjects that are either, depending on your viewpoint, “adult” or “very adolescent”. Everyone is welcome — but… if you have a delicate sensibility about research that is either “adult” or “adolescent”, you will want to avoid the 3:30 pm session.

BRISKNESS NOTE: To keep things moving briskly, eight-year-old Miss Sweetie Poo will preside at the first three sessions. The 3:30 “Boys Will Be Boys” session will, instead, be under the dominion of the very grown-up Miss Naughty Poo.

If you're in the Minneapolis area, head on over to Bloomington Avenue and Powderhorn Park on Sunday for the 36th Annual In the Heart of the Beast MayDay Parade and Festival. Join thousands in singing "You are my Sunshine" when the Sun arrives from across the lake and awakens the Tree of Life once more.

And if you like flying a lot, go to both!
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
Yesterday, the 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes were a category on Jeopardy!.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
The Improbably Research 2010 UK Tour starts Wednesday evening with an informal tweetup in London (7:30 pm Royal Festival Hall bar in Southbank Centre. #IGUKTOUR).

The tour then continues with shows in Oxford, Dundee, Portsmouth, London, and Bristol. Most shows are free, but you need admission tickets. Ticket details at the link above.

If you end up seeing Marc Abrahams, Elena Bodnar (of bra-mask fame), Dan Meyer (of sword-swallowing infamy), or Maria Ferrante (singer extraordinaire), please pass along my greetings and keen regards.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker)
Every year, Chief AIRhead Marc Abrahams writes an entertaining mini-opera that premieres at the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony. The 2009 mini-opera, The Big Bank Opera is now online. I heartily recommend it for its timeliness and sheer amusement value as well as the talented performers, Maria Ferrante, Ben Sears, and pianist Branden Grimmett all under the direction of David Stockton. (We multi-task. David is also the bartender.)

I had the fun of helping with the props and SMOTHRA fans will enjoy spotting various Geri touches throughout the four acts. The diapered pig wasn't mine, but the bar signs, Treasury check, bar stools, rubber ducky, playing cards, and several other on-stage touches came directly from PROmote Communications and Toad Woods. I especially like seeing Maria's blue velvet hat in the videos and photos from the Igs -- it originally belonged to [ profile] carnyjack's mother. It looked so good on Maria that I gave it to her. I still have Angie Targonski's hatbox and several other hats of hers; I'm glad the blue one found a good home as well as a bit of Ig fame.

Reminder: the entire 19th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony (including the Big Bank Opera) is also available for your viewing pleasure.

The 20th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony will take place at Harvard's Sanders Theatre on Thursday, September 30, 2010. Mark your calendar and do consider getting tickets when they go on sale in August. It's a hoot, and a great time to come to Boston, too.
gerisullivan: (Improbable Research Stinker) now online!

I've just enjoyed all four segments on the Improbable Research Vimeo page. I do recommend watching them in order, much as I won't promise they make any more sense that way. Even if you were in Sanders Theatre the night of the show and saw the whole thing live, the videos are a hoot. The cameras picked up lots of on-stage action that I was too busy running the slides (and too far from the stage) to notice during the show.

Please also take a look at the newly-opened Improbable Research and Ig Nobel Store where you can get your own "Please stop. I'm bored" coffee mug and many other Improbable items, too.
Please stop. I'm bored.


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