Imagine it as F. Lee Bailey meets Albert Einstein, with David Letterman hovering in the background. The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR) and the Journal of Irreproducible Results (JIR), two of a handful of publications that take an intentionally humorous view of science and scientists, are moving slowly toward a date in court. George H. Scherr, publisher of JIR, is suing Marc Abrahams, editor of AIR, and Improbable Research Inc., AIR's parent company, for what Scherr claims is unfair competition, deceptive trade practices, and trademark infringement.

The case has everything that addicts of Court TV have come to expect in big trials, and more: a claim for significant damages, originally to the tune of $4.2 million with a recent increase to $8.1 million; a charge of racketeering; a 1.5-inch-thick complaint document, including exhibits; an assertion of ownership of an event, the Ig Nobel Prizes, that has gained a stellar...

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