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Irrelevant Scientific Research Honored 93

More than 1,000 people attended this year's Ig Nobel awards, a light-hearted alternative to the Nobel Prizes. Scientists who unlocked the inner secrets of dog fleas, crisps and tangled string swept the show. Handing out awards was William Lipscomb, the 1976 Nobel laureate for chemistry, also doubling Thursday, at the age of 89, as the hero in the "Win-a-Date-With-a-Nobel-Laureate Contest." The prize itself is a plaque that reads, "This Ig Nobel Prize is awarded in the year 2008 to an Ig Nobel Prize Winner, in recognition of the Ig Nobel Prize Winners' Ig Nobel Prize winning achievement." At last I can submit my paper, "Everything is Really Wet, Even Dry Stuff." for peer review.
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Irrelevant Scientific Research Honored

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  • by prlucas ( 1297611 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @04:18PM (#25250517)

    Ahh the ice sound - that and of walking in snow of the perfect consistency.

    Though with the snow, for me, the feeling and sound and smell at the same time of a nice layer of snow I think contributes to for some reason liking the overall sensation.

  • by Chris Pimlott ( 16212 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @04:20PM (#25250545)

    Funny coincidence, I just watched the Fish & Chips episode of Heston Blumenthal's BBC series "In Search of Perfection", which discussed just the same thing. Blumenthal is the head chef at The Fat Duck, the restaurant mentioned in the article, and a major figure in the "molecular gastronomy" scene.

    He visits a scientist in the UK to test the crispiness of different batter recipes, using an apparatus that analyzes the sound waves generated by poking the food with a probe. It's not the same scientist as mentioned in the Ig Nobel article, though, no idea if it's related to the specific research citing by Ig Nobel.

    There's video from the episode online [], the relevant segment begins at the 2 minute mark.

  • Placebo effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @04:52PM (#25250889) Journal

    "He says his work has implications for the way drugs are marketed. People often think generic medicine is inferior. But gussy it up a bit, change the name, make it appear more expensive, and maybe it will work better, he said."

    Well I'd rather be convinced that cheaper medicine is better or the same as expensive medicine :).

    "In the 18 subjects Miller studied, average earnings were $250 for a five-hour shift. That jumped to $350 to $400 per five-hour shift when the women were their most fertile, he said."

    There's research that shows that women tend to actually appear more attractive during their most fertile days (and probably might behave in a more attractive manner too ). []

    BTW there's also: [] []

  • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:07PM (#25251031)

    Coca Cola from the USA is significantly different from Coca Cola from Taiwan?

    It's quite possible they use different sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup vs. cane sugar) or other substitute ingredients due to relative expense per region.

  • by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:12PM (#25251075) Journal

    There was even more agitation over the chemistry prize, awarded jointly to rival teams - one from the United States which determined Coca-Cola to be an effective spermicide and one from Taiwan which proved it is not.

    I don't see how any self-respecting scientist can sleep at night until this situation is rectified. I know I can't!

    Apparently, Coca Cola in the US is not quite the same as Coca Cola in several other countries. In the US, corn syrup is used as the sweetener. In many other countries, syrup from sugar cane is used. The two syrups' particular sucroses and admixed flavourings (impurities) are not the same. Perhaps the difference is just enough.

    Hey, corn syrup as a spermicide! What an idea for a research proposal! Next year, maybe I'll get an Ig!

  • Re:Placebo effect (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <<spydermann.slashdot> <at> <>> on Friday October 03, 2008 @05:27PM (#25251215) Homepage Journal

    "He says his work has implications for the way drugs are marketed. People often think generic medicine is inferior. But gussy it up a bit, change the name, make it appear more expensive, and maybe it will work better, he said."

    So that means that us knowledgeable people will achieve better results with the standard medicine, or worse results with the more expensive one?

  • by pluther ( 647209 ) <pluther@usa.ERDOSnet minus math_god> on Friday October 03, 2008 @06:19PM (#25251623) Homepage

    You might also want to check into the water.

    Quality and filtration processes may be different enough to be another factor.

  • The liberal is only liberal and accepting of other liberals, they will not recognize the conservative's right to their ideals and will fight in a court of law to enforce their ideals.

    To be a social liberal, one must accept social conservatives' right to hold and express their their ideas, however stupid. The ACLU stands up for the free speech rights of even those on the far far right, neo-Nazis and the KKK.

    Being a social liberal does not, however, mean refraining from exercising your own free speech rights to tell these people that they are full of shit.

    Social conservatives, on the other hand, advocate inequality under the law for people whose opinions or actions they find distasteful. In their eyes, those who believe in and practice "traditional values" should be granted special legal rights.

  • by dmbasso ( 1052166 ) on Friday October 03, 2008 @11:26PM (#25253573)

    I remember a story posted here on /. about a scientist that found a mutation on his bacterias that allowed them to metabolize methane. IIRC, it happened in the range of 20K to 40K generations. The unikonts you mentioned seem to be very hard to happen given our lifespan, but after 10^10 generations it is not that difficult to think happening.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @08:37AM (#25255435)

    I think mostly that the wires are just stiffer, so the ease of untangling comes from the difficulty of tangling.

  • by gyrogeerloose ( 849181 ) on Saturday October 04, 2008 @02:24PM (#25257065) Journal

    I've noticed that too. I have a pair of Sony earbuds that were about the same price as Apple charges for a pair like the ones that came with my iPhone. The Sony buds sound better but I'm forever untangling them after pulling them out of my pocket. With the Apple earbuds, all I had to do is shake them a few times and they were ready to go. I think it's the silicon jacket they use in place of the typical PVC.

    Now, if only Apple would improve the sound and durability. Mine started distorting on volume peaks (like speakers with a torn cone) after about two months.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A giant panda bear is really a member of the racoon family.