NEW YORK – Karaoke inventor Daisuke Inoue was awarded the humorous Ig Nobel peace prize in a Thursday ceremony at Harvard University for “providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other.”
Inoue, a 64-year-old Osaka native and one of this year’s 10 Ig Nobel Prize winners, was warmly greeted by an audience of 1,200 at Harvard’s historic Sanders Theatre near Boston.
Each winner received a handmade Ig Nobel Prize, a medallion made of tinfoil and a certificate from genuine Nobel chemistry laureates William Lipscomb (1976) and Dudley Herschbach (1986), and Richard Roberts (physiology or medicine of 1993).
By inventing karaoke, which literally means “empty orchestra” in Japanese, Inoue had “tremendously widespread inconsequential effects on everybody on every continent,” Marc Abrahams, editor of Annals of Improbable Research, said in a telephone interview before emceeing the ceremony.
Ig Nobel is a pun on “ignoble,” according to Abrahams, who has organized the Ig Nobel Prize ceremonies every year since 1991 ahead of the genuine Nobel Prize announcements.
The magazine produced the 14th annual ceremony, while the Harvard Computer Society, the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and the Harvard-Radcliffe Society of Physics Students cosponsored the event.
A portion of the ceremony was broadcast in several languages, including Japanese.
The other winners this year included Jillian Clarke, a Chicago high school student honored for probing “the scientific validity of the five-second rule about whether it’s safe to eat food that’s been dropped on the floor” as well as the Vatican — for outsourcing prayers to India.
Two U.S. teachers also won the prize for a report on “the effect of country music on suicide,” Coca-Cola Co. of Britain for using cutting-edge technology to convert liquid from the River Thames into Dasani bottled water, and the American Nudist Research Library of Florida for “preserving nudist history so that everyone can see it.”
Past winners include three Japanese who invented Bow-Lingual, a computer-based automatic dog “translator” toy. The trio won the 2002 peace prize for “promoting peace and harmony between the species.”
In 1998, then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shared the peace prize for “their aggressive peaceful explosions of atomic bombs.”
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