As founder of the Ig Nobel awards, Marc Abrahams explores the world’s most improbable research. In this thought-provoking (and occasionally side-splitting) talk, he tells stories of truly weird science — and makes the case that silliness is critical to boosting public interest in science.



  • ignoble – not honourable in character or purpose
  • centrifugal force – a force directed away from the centre around which the body is moving.
  • slosh – move irregularly with a splashing sound
  • putrid – decaying or rotting and emitting a fetid smell
  • flammable/inflammable – easily set on fire


Think about it

  • Who were George and Charlotte Blonsky? What did they invent? (pause @ 1:17)
  • What research did Doctor Ivan Schwab conduct? (pause @ 2:26)
  • What tradition did Dr. Lianne Parkin test? What was the conclusion of her research? (pause @ 4:07)
  • What is the most important criterion the Ig Nobel Prize is based on? How are people informed about being nominated? (pause @ 6:00)
  • What is the heart of the Ig Noble ceremony? (pause @ 7:40)
  • What have you learned about  colonoscopy and coconuts? (pause @ 10:30)


Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word in each blank space.

I am going to tell ________ about just a very few of the other medical-related prizes we ________ given. Keep ________ mind, we’ve given 230 prizes. There are lots of these people who walk among you. Maybe you have _________. A paper was published about 30 years ago called “Injuries due to Falling Coconuts.” It was written by Dr. Peter Barss, who is Canadian. Dr. Barss came to the ceremony and explained that as a young doctor, he wanted to see the world. So he went to Papua New Guinea. When he got there, he went to work in ________ hospital, and he was curious what kinds of things happen to people that bring them to ________ hospital. He looked through the records, and he discovered that a surprisingly large number of people in ________ hospital were there because of injuries due to falling coconuts. One typical thing that happens is people will come from the highlands, where there are not many coconut trees, down to visit their relatives ________ the coast,where there are lots. And they’ll think that a coconut tree is a fine place to stand and maybe ________ down. A coconut tree that is 90 feet tall, and has coconuts that weigh two pounds that can drop off at any time.


Explore it more