Sunday, October 05, 2008

Armadillos, Dignified Plants, and Side Effects of Coca-Cola

I missed a great event on Thursday. Not the VP Debate. I watched that. And I patriotically ate a lot of apple pie while doing so. Apple crumb pie from the Jericho Cider Mill. Best pie in the world. Low on goo. I am not a fan of apple pies with high goo ratios. In fact, I'm not a fan of any food with a high goo ratio. Like enormous Cadbury eggs. Just a bad idea. The sugar goo to chocolate ratio... But I digress.

The big event of the night was the awarding of the 2008 Ig Noble Prize Awards. I love the Ig Noble Awards. They make me happy. If you've never heard of them, the Ig Nobles are awarded annually to scientific research and/or academic achievements that "first make you laugh then make you think."

My personal favorite continues to be the 2005 Literature Prize awarded to: "The Internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for creating and then using e-mail to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters -- General Sani Abacha, Mrs. Mariam Sanni Abacha, Barrister Jon A Mbeki Esq., and others -- each of whom requires just a small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to which they are entitled and which they would like to share with the kind person who assists them."

The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
(text below is quoted from

NUTRITION PRIZE. Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.

PEACE PRIZE. The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.

ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE. Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.

BIOLOGY PRIZE. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert,, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.

MEDICINE PRIZE. Dan Ariely of Duke University, USA, for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.

COGNITIVE SCIENCE PRIZE. Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University, Japan, Hiroyasu Yamada of Nagoya, Japan, Ryo Kobayashi of Hiroshima University, Atsushi Tero of Presto JST, Akio Ishiguro of Tohoku University, and Ágotá Tóth of the University of Szeged, Hungary, for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles.

ECONOMICS PRIZE. Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan of the University of New Mexico, USA, for discovering that a professional lap dancer's ovulatory cycle affects her tip earnings.

PHYSICS PRIZE. Dorian Raymer of the Ocean Observatories Initiative at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, and Douglas Smith of the University of California, San Diego, USA, for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE. Sharee A. Umpierre of the University of Puerto Rico, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England (USA), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School (USA), for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to Chuang-Ye Hong of Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that it is not.

LITERATURE PRIZE. David Sims of Cass Business School, London, UK, for his lovingly written study "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations."

Apparently, the winners for cognitive science sang their acceptance speech in three-part harmony. And the winners for chemistry were toasted with bottles of Coke.

I think this is awesome. I also think I owe apologies to several plants.

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At 4:16 AM, Blogger tanita✿davis said...

I had heard of these, but I didn't think they were real...!!

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Q said...

I want to win one of those prizes some day.

At 9:07 AM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

TadMack: Yep, definitely real. I think there's even a recorded webcast of the event somewhere... I know there are some photos in some of the news articles.

Q: That would be very cool.

At 5:48 PM, Blogger Anne Leigh said...

Love your Goo Sience, you should get an IG Nobel Prize...

Wow....xD wow...just....*facepalm*

At 8:37 PM, Blogger AnnaDee said...

the armidillo got me rolling!
i once had a got lose one night..fell to the floor...crawled to my back back...(next to which my math homework lay-) and shredded my homework! the teacher..she didn't believe me!
another time, it tried to eat my science progect- how differnt colors of light affect plant growth- disaster!
i guess i can't do that( the science project!) anymore- they have dignity!

At 10:09 PM, Blogger Sarah Beth Durst said...

SavyLeartist: I keep trying to think of a counter-example (a goo-intensive food that isn't disgusting), but I'm drawing a blank... I stand by my assertion that any food that can be most accurately described as "goo" is just not yummy.

AnnaDee: "Hamster ate my homework." Fabulous! I'm sorry the teacher didn't believe you. I had a guinea pig once. Very boring pet. Every time you picked him up, he would get so nervous that he would... well, suffice it to say, you'd have to wrap the rodent in a towel if you wanted to cuddle him. In retrospect, I think his nervous personality may have been caused by our cat, who liked to lie on top of the his cage and stare down at him...

At 10:26 PM, Blogger AnnaDee said...

that would do it. i had a cat that was.. TERRIFIED of one of my hammies.( i had 20..the pets store lied..they saud my brother and i had two girl hamsters. a month later, we discover..the truth!)
we don't know why my monster of a cat was scared of little, half an once Smoke... might have had something to do twth tearing the fur/skin off half his nose...heh!

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried one of the squeezable smarties things now available @ your local checkout counter?
Talk about goo...blech...


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