IgNobel Prize

128. Penile frostbite: an unexpected hazard of jogging.

The following wonderful letter appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine forty years ago. If the IgNobel Prizes had existed then, it would surely have been a leading candidate for the medicine prize. Who says that scientists don't have a sense of humor?! Penis...

My career in poetry

I am stimulated to write this post by the news that the “celebrated American poet Joseph Charles McKenzie” has composed a poem to celebrate Donald Trump’s inauguration. The poem contains the immortal lines “With purpose and strength he came down from his tower To...

123. What’s that smell?

What’s that smell? A school playground joke from my childhood concerns a new deodorant called “vanish”. It makes you invisible, so that no one can see where the smell is coming from. But how can we seriously get rid of bad smells? One way, which makes the...

IgNobel or Nobel – which has more value?

It may sound ridiculous to argue that a spoof IgNobel Prize could ever have more value than an actual Nobel. Of course, when it comes to real science, the Nobels are still the pinnacle. But perhaps, as I pointed out in this interview on the BBC World Service recorded...

What scientists need to know about communicating with journalists

Several colleagues have drawn my attention to a blog by Pete Warden on how scientists should talk to journalists (http://petewarden.com/2015/09/27/how-to-talk-to-journalists/). Having had the experience on many occasions, and having worked out my own set of rules, I...

92. The art and science of dunking

June 5th On this National Donut Day in the U.S., here is the first chapter of my prize-winning "How To Dunk a Doughnut": an illustration of how scientists think about the problems of everyday life. One of the main problems that scientists have in sharing their picture...

How To Dunk a Biscuit

Live appearance (and demonstration) on BBC TV "One Show" by Skype from my kitchen in Australia, and went without a hitch!

I’m an IgNobel Prize Winner: Get Me Out Of Here!

BBC Focus Magazine How would you use science to help you escape from a desert island? My solution, which began with using loose change to make a battery, was illustrator James Reekie’s personal favourite. If I were marooned with a group of others, I would set up a...

Ig Nobel Ceremony Honors Nutty ‘Scientific’ Research

Harvard College Gazette U.S. newspaper story about the IgNobel prizes with pics of what happens on stage, with real Nobel Prize winners (!) sweeping up paper darts that have been thrown by the audience. The ceremony was all great fun, and featured “Miss Sweety Poo”, a...

Crumbs I’ve Got a Prize

One of many newspaper stories that appeared at the time when I received an IgNobel Prize. Most were friendly, and showed recognition that this was a serious effort to make science accessible by showing how scientists think about the little problems of everyday life....

Brits Take the Biscuit

BBC Radio News, October 1999 Journalists had a funny feeling about Len Fisher when they visited the Englishman's Bristol University laboratory. Anyone who spends that much time and effort researching the best way to dunk a biscuit in a cup of tea has to be in line for...

Scientific Spectacles

Times Higher Education Supplement Summary This article, published in the Times Higher Education Supplement in October 1999, was one of my first in which I advanced the proposition that science belongs along with literature, philosophy and art in our culture as a way...

Proud to be Silly

New Scientist, October 1999 Feedback (9 October) is delighted with my Ig Nobel prize for the physics of biscuit dunking. So am I. As I pointed out in my acceptance speech at Harvard, this was the first British win at a Boston Tea Party for over two hundred years. A...

Here Come the Prize Idiots

The Guardian “Here come the prize idiots” came as a shock headline about the IgNobel Prize from a newspaper for which I had written quite a few articles. It was one of the things that stimulated me to suggest to the organizers that a new slogan was needed which...

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