Saturday, May 25, 2024

A few copies of the 2002 hardcover of Marc Abrahams’ “Ig Nobel Prizes” compendium has landed at Porter Square Books. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Fans of science, silliness and the Ig Nobel Prizes should get to Porter Square Books fast to pick a copy or two of the prizes’ 2002 hardcover compendium. Why fast? Because a few copies have re-emerged and landed among the bargain books, on sale for $4.99. That’s a great price for a book (or gift) that examines the results of the British Royal Navy telling sailors to shout “Bang!” instead of firing live cannon shells, shows whether elevator music can help prevent the common cold and explains why Dan Quayle won the prize in the field of education (“for demonstrating, better than anyone else, the need”).

While Quayle didn’t collect in person, journalists from around the world attend the granting of the prizes each year, along with celebrities such as economist Paul Krugman and writer Neil Gaiman, just to celebrate science that “makes people laugh, then makes them think.”

Arguably, just the item on why toast falls on the buttered side justifies paying $4.99 — but the book is also a rarity, as this hardcover edition doesn’t appear for sale even on the prizes’ website, and there’s a hometown element: The prizes are based in Cambridge and run by resident Marc Abrahams, the author, host of the annual event at Harvard’s Sander Theatre and editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, from which the book’s contents are culled.

Porter Square Books is at 25 White St.