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Irrelevant Scientific Research Honored

samzenpus posted about 6 years ago | from the wierd-science dept.

Science 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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I know it's all in fun... (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 years ago | (#25250335)

I know it's all in fun but seriously, just because research is funny doesn't mean it isn't meaningful. One paper was in knot theory, which is apparently a pretty large and under-researched area of mathmatics. Another was convincing people that their potato chips were fresh by playing crunching noises while they were being eaten, which I imagine provides insights into how what we taste is influenced by our other senses.

Don't forget, the point of the Ig Nobel Awards is to 'Make you laugh, then make you think'.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (2)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | about 6 years ago | (#25250475)

I don't know what it is, and maybe this is a little too personal, but I freaking love the sound of potato chips being crunched. Even better is the sound that really thin sheets of ice make when you step on them slowly in the winter.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (2, Interesting)

prlucas (1297611) | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (0, Offtopic)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | about 6 years ago | (#25250903)

What is this "snow" you speak of. Seriously. I'm from Baton Rouge. It's snowed there ONCE and stuck in the last 25 years. No kidding. Really.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (2, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | about 6 years ago | (#25250983)

"I'm from Baton Rouge. It's snowed there ONCE and stuck in the last 25 years."

So snowballs DID have a chance in Hell!

Re:I know it's all in fun... (1)

jsiren (886858) | about 6 years ago | (#25262633)

So snowballs DID have a chance in Hell!

(exterior, just inside the gates of Hell)
(wide shot over frozen hellscape)
(voice over: Sir David Attenborough)
In the early days of 2006 Hell started a spontaneous, rapid cooling process, reaching freezing temperature in the early spring, and being completely frozen over by the end of April. Soon, having tried for 45 years with little success, Finland finally won the 2006 Eurovision song contest.

The events remain yet to be explained, but some have drawn connections to a popular saying: "Hell will freeze over before Finland wins the Eurovision song contest."

The extinction of all "snowball in Hell" jokes in the spring of 2006 has also been blamed on these events.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (2, Funny)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 6 years ago | (#25254597)

I am currently sitting about twenty miles from one of the leading contenders for the snowiest spot on the globe. That would be Thompson Pass, near Valdez, Alaska. I will send you some snow if you like--we probably have enough.

I am so thrilled by all of this wonderful snow that we get. So thrilled. On an entirely unrelated subject, I'm looking for good books on how to tie a noose correctly. Have you heard of any?

Re:I know it's all in fun... (5, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | about 6 years ago | (#25250519)

Well all research ought to be potentially good. You never know when something important may arise from seemingly unimportant research, provided its conducted properly. A seemingly unimportant fact that emerges from this research may prove to be important when applied to someone else's research down the road.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25252275)

Nope. There is lots of crappy research. It's actually pretty hard to come up with something original.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25338113)

hello

Re:I know it's all in fun... (5, Insightful)

yali (209015) | about 6 years ago | (#25250637)

Absolutely. The summary and linked article get it wrong. The Ig Nobel prizes are not about "irrelevant" research:

The Ig Nobel Prizes honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology.
From the Ig Nobel Website [improbable.com]

A lot of scientific research seems pointless or silly to people who don't know what it's really about or why it was done. Hence the regular "still no cure for cancer" and "I can't believe my tax dollars fund this" comments. The Ig Nobel prizes acknowledge that science can sometimes seem funny on the surface, but they definitely do not concede that it is irrelevant.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25251321)

Knowing the atrocious editing and spelling on Slashdot, my guess is that the word was supposed to be "irreverent", rather than "irrelevant"

Re:I know it's all in fun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255389)

The better word would be "irreverent" science. I mean, why in the hell can't real science also be funny? Some of it might even be useful.

For example, one study that won a prize was about how female strippers who were ovulating somehow got significantly more money from their male audience than when non-ovulating. That leads to some pretty interesting questions. As in, what is observably different about the females appearance or behavior at that time? How do the males tell and what motivates them to spend more in those circumstances? In many species ovulation is made flagrantly obvious by changes in the female's body, but in humans it is quite cryptic, so it's a genuine puzzle. It provokes interesting questions about human psychology and sexuality, which, yes, stop your chuckling for a second, are indeed legitimate scientific questions.

It's, uh, clearly a subject deserving of further study.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | about 6 years ago | (#25257033)

It's, uh, clearly a subject deserving of further study.

I'm willing to volunteer for this study.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25310979)

yes

Re:I know it's all in fun... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25251057)

Speaking of Knot Theory, my theory is that someone at apple did some actual research on the best materials to make earplug cords out of. I have discovered that I can untangle my ipod earplugs much easier than I can regular earplugs. I am assuming that apple even did research into a best coating for their earplugs to make them untangle easier.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | about 6 years ago | (#25255435)

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

Re:I know it's all in fun... (2, Interesting)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | about 6 years ago | (#25257065)

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.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (2, Funny)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | about 6 years ago | (#25257077)

That should have been silicone, not silicon.. But I guess silicon wouldn't tangle either.

Knot theory is "under-researched" ?? (3, Informative)

l2718 (514756) | about 6 years ago | (#25252443)

Knot theory is a significant and active branch of topology. It is certainly not "under-researched" in any sense in which the expression can be applied to mathematics. In other words, it is not like there are obvious results left undiscovered because people don't care about the field. While knot theorists would certainly think that we should work on it more, in that they are no different than other mathematicians: most people think the problems in their field are the most interesting ones -- otherwise they wouldn't be working on them!

Knot theory (4, Funny)

rossdee (243626) | about 6 years ago | (#25252755)

I am sure that knot theory would be useful to cosmologists studying string theory.

Re:Knot theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255627)

You should feel ashamed. This is how the people who modded you insightful will feel when they realize you were attempting to be humorous.

Re:I know it's all in fun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255651)

I think it's a dynamite idea.

Discovery Institute should get its act together! (3, Funny)

grub (11606) | about 6 years ago | (#25250461)


Too bad the Creationists can't come up with any actual scientific research, they'd win this honour every year!

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250699)

I know you're just a flaming troll but today I can't help myself.

Have you ever taken a look at evolution - it doesn't make any sense either. All this incredible diversity from grass to humans to bugs ect... This all came from on little spark of life in some primordial goo?! I'm not buying it anymore than I'm buying a literal translation of the Creationist.

Don't try to defend yourself by saying "but I didn't say anything about evolution" because that is your counter argument to the Creationist...

Here's your chance to say what you mean instead of failing at starting a flame fest...

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250725)

Take any university-level Biology course. You're thinking with your heart not your head.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25254009)

I know you're just a flaming troll but today I can't help myself.
Have you ever taken a look at evolution - it doesn't make any sense either. All this incredible diversity from grass to humans to bugs ect... This all came from on little spark of life in some primordial goo?! I'm not buying it anymore than I'm buying a literal translation of the Creationist.

Don't try to defend yourself by saying "but I didn't say anything about evolution" because that is your counter argument to the Creationist...

Here's your chance to say what you mean instead of failing at starting a flame fest...

==TROLL ALERT==
Everybody below this line fell for it, suckers.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250741)

I'm not buying it

Ah, the argument from personal incredulity. WHY don't you buy it? What actual issues do you feel you have with the theory of evolution? Can you demonstrate such problems actually exist in the lab? With math?
"It just seems too implausible" doesn't work when you're trying to find out what's true.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (2, Informative)

plover (150551) | about 6 years ago | (#25250915)

The "I'm not buying it" argument against evolution typically comes because humans do not innately have the understanding of the time scales involved, or of the nature of probability.

Humans don't typically pay attention long enough to visibly see evolution taking place. The evidence is there, but it may take effort to put it together, and they're unwilling to do that. (I keep thinking that a month-long process of breeding antibiotic-resistant e. coli and feeding it to them would go a long way toward helping them understand it, but that's just me.) And lots of people don't understand probability -- look at gamblers and their "systems", or even try to explain the Monty Hall problem to someone.

And of course lots of people don't understand simply because they can't or won't make the effort. I have less respect for those people.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (2, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | about 6 years ago | (#25251141)

(I keep thinking that a month-long process of breeding antibiotic-resistant e. coli and feeding it to them would go a long way toward helping them understand it, but that's just me.)

No, that won't work. They'll say that's just "microevolution", and that it proves nothing about "macroevolution". This is the standard creationist argument any time antibiotic-resistant bacteria are brought up.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25251175)

Of course. After all, micro and macro evolution are completely separate processes. It's like the difference between inches and yards.

Wait, that... that's not really that different? If you add up a bunch of inches you DO get a yard? ...Be back in a bit.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (1)

pbhj (607776) | about 6 years ago | (#25252769)

If you breed those e.coli and at the end of the breeding process they have turned into unikonts be sure to let us know.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (2, Interesting)

dmbasso (1052166) | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (1)

jsiren (886858) | about 6 years ago | (#25262715)

In our yard the lawn sure has added up to a bunch of inches.

Time to get the mower.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#25251955)

That won't work becasue they would use the moving goal post fallacy, among others.

We can see perfectly clear evidence of evolution in humans. They just don't want to believe, so they don't. They want others to believe so the make stuff up. The fact that none of what they say about evolution is true.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (1)

pbhj (607776) | about 6 years ago | (#25252685)

We can see perfectly clear evidence of evolution in humans.

Go on ..

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (2, Informative)

plover (150551) | about 6 years ago | (#25253791)

We can see perfectly clear evidence of evolution in humans.

Go on ..

Nobody ever said evolution would produce a "better" animal, just one "more suited" to breed in the environment in which it lives.

Yeah. Think about that.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (2, Informative)

grub (11606) | about 6 years ago | (#25250811)


Evolution has mountains of scientific evidence supporting it, your "feeling" has none. Who's trolling now?

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | about 6 years ago | (#25251303)

Makes sense to me. Maybe you're just not smart enough? Sometimes I have a hard time with quantum mechanics or statistics, but a good night's sleep, some solid study, and a couple of good lectures make a big difference.

Re:Discovery Institute should get its act together (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#25251935)

Ok, you're not buying it. What hypothosis do you ahve that fits the enoumous amount of data?

Here is a clue, study it, understand it and stop arguing from Personal Incredulity*

Which part of evolution do you ahve an issue with? Because it is a rock solid theory with mountains of evidence.

"Don't try to defend yourself by saying "but I didn't say anything about evolution" because that is your counter argument to the Creationist..."
Sine he didn't say that, how do you know that? Maybe he believes it was couched up from a giant space cat the magical bless new creatures every generation.

*see number 5:
http://www.theskepticsguide.org/logicalfallacies.asp [theskepticsguide.org]

relevant inf. ignored/hidden, dishonor abounds (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250465)

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Re:relevant inf. ignored/hidden, dishonor abounds (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250551)

Serious question here, can somebody explain to me, for real, why people post shit like this? I truly don't understand why people post this stuff, or what purpose it could possibly serve. Is it really just crazy people?

Re:relevant inf. ignored/hidden, dishonor abounds (1)

SomeJoel (1061138) | about 6 years ago | (#25250781)

It's probably a bot of some kind (Captchas are notoriously imperfect) which someone with an agenda is using to post on every board they possibly can. Usually the agenda is money related, but sometimes it's religion or politics. In this particular case, hard to tell - probably religion.

Re:relevant inf. ignored/hidden, dishonor abounds (1)

plover (150551) | about 6 years ago | (#25251001)

Simply looking at their posting, it's likely part of an attempt to spam Google into boosting the page rank for some of those NYT opinion pieces, or maybe to try to relate some of those stories to each other. (I'm not visiting or posting those links out of principle, so it's hard to say for sure.) They could be attacking just the search engine or possibly Google News as well. We can only hope that the Google spiders walking Slashdot ignore all "Score -1" postings.

I'm not sure why they didn't put hrefs around their links, tho. Maybe they don't understand /., or maybe it's just a bot.

Picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250503)

Why does samzenpus always have use a picture? What's wrong with the category icons that have been around forever?

Dog Fleas (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250505)

If they find something that will eliminate the need for chemical pesticides or at least find one that isn't potentially carcinogenic, and one not made from petro chemicals, I think the research is quite meaningful. There are a few diseases that are brought by fleas.

All science is irellevant -except for THEOLOGY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250511)

This is what it would be like, if the majority of people were athiests.
ATHIEST KID: Mom, I'm going to go fuck a hooker.
ATHIEST MOM: Okay, son.
ATHIEST KID: Afterwards, I'm going to go smoke pot with my friends, since it's "not addictive."
ATHIEST MOM: Okay, come home soon!

The athiest kid leaves the room. The father comes home from work several minutes later.

ATHIEST DAD: Hey!
ATHIEST MOM: Hi, honey! I'm pregnant again. I guess I'll just get another abortion, since "fetuses don't count as human life."
ATHIEST DAD: Okay, get as many abortions as you want!
ATHIEST MOM: Oh, and don't go in the bedroom.
ATHIEST DAD: Why not?
ATHIEST MOM: There are two gay men fucking eachother in there.
ATHIEST DAD: Why are they here?
ATHIEST MOM: I wanted to watch them do it for awhile. They just aren't finished yet.
ATHIEST DAD: Okay, that's fine with me!

Suddenly, their neighbor runs into the house.

ATHIEST NEIGHBOR: Come quick, there's a Christian outside!
ATHIEST MOM: We'll be right there!

The athiest couple quickly put on a pair of black robes and hoods. They then exit the house, and run into the street, where a Christian is nailed to a large, wooden X. He is being burned alive. A crowd of athiests stand around him, all wearing black robes and hoods.

RANDOM ATHIEST: Damn you, Christian! We hate you! We claim to be tolerant of all religions. But we really hate yours'! That's because we athiests are hypocritical like that! Die, Christian!

THE END

Scary, isn't it?
( )

Re:All science is irellevant -except for THEOLOGY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250645)

This is also the myth of liberalism. Conservatives put too many restrictions and are not accepting, they are racist, sexist, whatever, they try to force everyone to have their world view, the liberal on the other hand, won't accept a person whose opinion differs from their own (the conservative) without calling them intolerant. 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. They do the same things that they accuse conservatives of doing, they even have the same line as a standard of acceptability, they just look at the line from different sides. And before you go start complaining about economics and politics, I'm not talking republican and democrat here. I'm not talking rich/poor. I'm not talking evolution/creation here. I am talking social conservatives vs social liberals...there is a difference

republican != social conservative != rich old boy != creationist
democrat != social liberal != poor or new rich != evolutionist

While these may tend to be the case more often than not, there is nothing that actually equates them.

Re:All science is irellevant -except for THEOLOGY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25251631)

I am talking social conservatives vs social liberals...there is a difference

No, there's not. They are in all ways 100% identical. Both piss themselves in terror at the thought of being free and responsible for their own actions, and both channel that fear into busybodyist crusades to make the world conform to the comforting fantasies they invent for themselves.

Re:All science is irellevant -except for THEOLOGY (2, Interesting)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 6 years ago | (#25252103)

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.

Re:All science is irellevant -except for THEOLOGY (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250905)

Sarah Palin, is that you misspelling "atheist"?!

Re:All science is irellevant -except for THEOLOGY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255021)

The athiest couple quickly put on a pair of black robes and hoods. They then exit the house, and run into the street, where a Christian is nailed to a large, wooden X. He is being burned alive. A crowd of athiests stand around him, all wearing black robes and hoods.

...where do I sign up?

The Next Big Controversy (4, Funny)

explosivejared (1186049) | about 6 years ago | (#25250533)

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!

Re:The Next Big Controversy (3, Insightful)

Kandenshi (832555) | about 6 years ago | (#25250629)

ugh, they don't go into details of how that's used, but assuming it's like typical spermicides and it's vaginally applied that's a TERRIBLE idea. Even if it kills sperm, that'd completely screw up the pH balance and flood it with sugar. Sounds to me like exactly what you don't want to do(unless you like yeast infections and other such STIs)

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 6 years ago | (#25251269)

Sounds to me like exactly what you don't want to do(unless you like yeast infections and other such STIs)

As a regular method of birth control? No. As an emergency contraceptive? Risking a yeast infection might well be worth it to reduce the risk of pregnancy after a rape, a condom failure, or a momentary bit of stupidity.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

Kandenshi (832555) | about 6 years ago | (#25251641)

I'm not from the US, so all I have to go off of is anecdotes and whatnot... But is it really that expensive/difficult to get a dose of Plan B(an emergency contraceptive) down there? Far more effective than a coke and less likely to lead to damage of the delicate fallopian tubes (coke under pressure being squirted up into the vagina in an effort to "make sure we get 'em all"...

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#25251995)

Crazy religious assholes fight against women protecting themselves all the time, so it can be difficult in some areas.
We're talking about who think young ladies shouldn't get vaccinated against cancer.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25252405)

There are idiots everwhere, some even belive that there is vaccination for cancer.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25252497)

There are idiots everwhere, some even belive that there is vaccination for cancer.

"[...] who think young ladies shouldn't get vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease known to have a high statistical correlation with cervical cancer." <-- Fixed for you.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25253053)

... less likely to lead to damage of the delicate fallopian tubes...

You'd better go brush up on your anatomy if you think that's possible.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25253307)

I've taken some physiology and have a rough working knowledge of the anatomy of the vagina, cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes. Moderately forceful thrusting of water into the vagina has been demonstrated to allow for said water to pass through the external os and into the uterus. There it can irritate the lining of the fallopian tubes and promote infection.

I suppose coke is more sterile than most water(cough), but it isn't neccessarily being applied in a particularly sterile way. I can readily see young kids grabbing a 2 L bottle, opening it, shoving the neck up to make as good a seal as they can and then SQUEEZING the bottle. They're not going to let it gently dribble out, in their minds they have to get that coke all the way up there to make sure it kills the sperm that were likely deposited far up in the vagina, and have had a minute or two to swim.

You'd better go brush up on your medical journals if you think that the fallopian tubes are made of battle steel.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

denttford (579202) | about 6 years ago | (#25254523)

FWIW, as far as the sterility of Coke, I was at a holiday dinner some years back in Atlanta. One guest held a reasonably high position at the CDC. He related that he had recently attended a conference in China, where he spent some time in rural areas. He not only drank Coke the whole time - he even used Coke to brush his teeth, claiming that the bottling controls were good and fairly standardized across the globe.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

algerath (955721) | about 6 years ago | (#25256745)

Wouldn't using Coke to brush your teeth kind of defeat the purpose of brushing your teeth. I mean why even bother doing it. I suppose maybe it was diet coke, but brushing your teeth with Coke just kind of sounds pointless to me.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

jsiren (886858) | about 6 years ago | (#25262899)

You know, there are other methods [wikipedia.org] for that.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

ultramk (470198) | about 6 years ago | (#25251439)

completely screw up the pH balance and flood it with sugar.

Dude. You're supposed to use Diet Coke. Duh.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25253863)

Mod +5 insightful.

This is the kind of information that a geek could use!

Re:The Next Big Controversy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25251667)

...vaginally applied that's a TERRIBLE idea
You could do even worse by an oral application.
It will not only ruin your pH but also the shape of your body and damage your teeth. And it tastes like a shit.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 years ago | (#25251973)

Maybe they want to make vaginal bread~

Re:The Next Big Controversy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25252129)

Maybe they want to make vaginal bread~

Could be worse. What if they used hops as tampons, waited a week, and tried for beer?

Re:The Next Big Controversy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25255443)

The study also mentioned (not sure if it is in the cited article, but check other ones [cnn.com] ) that Diet Coke was apparently even more effective. That might be a sign your hypothesis about the negative effect of sugar on the desired outcome is correct.

Keep in mind that in many parts of the world, getting access to reliable, sanitary water can be pretty challenging, so as awful as it sounds, something as cheap and accessible as cola might be better than other options, even if it is far from optimal. I suspect this was the original motivation for the study, and it is an important question.

The original paper is apparently in the New England Journal of Medicine, a pretty respected journal, and according to the author (as cited in the linked article above), the practice isn't recommended, probably for some of the reasons you mention.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (2, Funny)

fishthegeek (943099) | about 6 years ago | (#25250717)

So... you're saying that you won't be able to sleep because you are not sure whether or not you should wash your hands with a cold Coke Classic before bed?

It sounds like you're going to be the research topic for next years awards.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 6 years ago | (#25250799)

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

Sperm from the USA is different from sperm from Taiwan?

"Anderson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University's School of Medicine, and her colleagues found that not only was Coca-Cola a spermicide, but Diet Coke for some reason worked best. "

Re:The Next Big Controversy (2, Funny)

wormBait (1358529) | about 6 years ago | (#25250925)

They used different experimental techniques. I think one was in vitro and one in situ.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (2, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | about 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 6 years ago | (#25253173)

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

One comes with less styrene.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25266139)

There might be sugar in the Taiwan version unlike the US one.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (3, Interesting)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about 6 years ago | (#25251075)

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:The Next Big Controversy (2, Interesting)

pluther (647209) | about 6 years ago | (#25251623)

You might also want to check into the water.

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

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

NotSoHeavyD (1367115) | about 6 years ago | (#25253845)

Well actually the sugars in corn syrup are glucose and fructose. Cane sugar is sucrose. Guess what the acid in Coke turns sucrose into? Yup, that's right it turns it into a mixture of glucose and fructose through a process called acid catalyzed hydrolysis of sucrose for those that care. (Which means that the coke itself basically turns sucrose into the same sugars as in HFCS.)

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | about 6 years ago | (#25257223)

Apparently, Coca Cola in the US is not quite the same as Coca Cola in several other countries.

That's true. I live right on the U.S./Mexico border and a lot of stores here sell both American-made and Mexican-make Coke. I've tried them both and there is a noticeable difference. The American-made version is not quite as sweet and has a bit more of an acidic bite to it.

BTW, I once had a neighbor who worked in the Coca-Cola lab in Los Angeles. He said that Coke varied the formula depending on the type of container used and felt that the best one was used in the (now hard-to-find) eight-ounce glass bottles.

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | about 6 years ago | (#25257165)

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

I think that depends on who they are sleeping with...

Re:The Next Big Controversy (1)

frisket (149522) | about 6 years ago | (#25259235)

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

Maybe that was the problem with one of the projects...they used the wrong orifice :-)

The acoustics of crisp (3, Interesting)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | about 6 years ago | (#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 [youtube.com] , the relevant segment begins at the 2 minute mark.

A text-only impression: guess who this is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25250641)

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."

"In other words, you may already be a winner. Heh-heh-heh."

Placebo effect (4, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | about 6 years ago | (#25250889)

"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 ).

http://www.radio.cz/en/article/52484 [radio.cz]

BTW there's also:
http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080226/full/news.2008.625.html [nature.com]
http://www.newlifeafterdivorce.com/Relationships/Married-fertile-women-prefer-single-men.html [newlifeafterdivorce.com]

Re:Placebo effect (2, Interesting)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 6 years ago | (#25251215)

"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?

Re:Placebo effect (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 6 years ago | (#25252163)

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

The problem is that convincing "you" - your conscious mind, the voice in your head - isn't enough. You have to convince the deeper layers of the nervous system.

Re:Placebo effect (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 6 years ago | (#25253549)

Well there's always the nagging suspicion that the cheap generic from India/China might not be as good...

Irreverant, not Irrelevant (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | about 6 years ago | (#25251475)

Much of the winning research this year and previously was serious work on topics many find silly. This is what AIR is about (makes you laugh, then think). Most of the recipients take the award with good humor and, as a sign that science is actually making progress as a human social activity, they are not chastised by their colleagues. The title sucks. It came from the Telegraph, but it got passed along without being made less ridiculous.

Funny but relevant (1)

drums.r.better (1373595) | about 6 years ago | (#25252845)

It's funny that they have rewards for irrelevant research but I'm sure a lot of the research honored here is relevant and useful.

Awww, c'mon!!!! (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 6 years ago | (#25253507)

The OP could at least have mentioned up front that this was about the Ig Nobel. That would catch peoples' eyes... the given title did not.

This could have belonged in Idle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25254513)

Am I the only one who saw the bad title, then thought, "Oh great, another Idle story, moving on..."?
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