Sunday, 23 Nov, 2008 Current Events

The Shnobel Award - Directly From Harvard


As a tradition, before the Nobel week in Harvard, at the beginning of October this year, there also took place the 18th yearly Ceremony of Shnobel Awards.

The Shnobel award is a special award given for "researches that at first make you laugh and which only later make you think", and it has been given beginning with 1991. Of course, this little fun of Harvard cannot be compared to the real Nobel Award, but some traditions are respected by the members of the Shnobel Committee, by the laureates, the honoured guests and the public. The audience plays a very important part here - they are the ones that throw paper planes to the laureates that come on the scene.

There were 10 awards this year - 6 of them in the traditional Nobel categories and 4 additional awards. The Medicine award was not given to a doctor, neither to a physiologist, but to an economist. Dan Arially from the American University "Washington Duke" and the Technology Institute of Massachusetts, together with his friends from USA and Israel, has found out that "a good placebo is always the expensive one". When the patient has to choose between 2 identical and both useless pills, the pill that relieves the pain will be the one that the patient considers to be the most expensive. As a good proof to the conclusions of Arially are the popularity of many expensive variants of Aspirin in a pharmacy, that differ from the other cheaper variants only by their beautiful label.

The award in Physics was given to Dorian Ramer and Douglas Smith from the University of California in San Diego. They have proved mathematically that if one shakes a box with threads inside it for a long time the threads will soon knot by themselves. Ramer and Smith had repeated the same experiment for almost 3.5 thousands of times and observed the 120 different types of knots resulted from all the experiments.

The award in Chemistry was divided between Deborah Anderson from Harvard and Chuang He Hun from the Taibay University in Taiwan. Anderson has showed that "Coca-Cola" can have a contraceptive effect; Hun, on the contrary, has showed that it doesn't. As it turned out, Cola decreases the mobility of the spermatozoa inside it, it especially refers to Diet Coke. Still, using it as a measure of extreme contraception is not recommended, because spermatozoa reach different parts of the woman's body very quickly, while Coke does that in several hours. According to Hun, "Coca-Cola" does not have spermicide properties.

The award for Peace was given to Urs Turnerr from the Federal Ethics Committee in non-human biotechnologies from Switzerland. The Committee claims that plants also have their dignity, a dignity researchers must respect. Can you imagine yourselves how illegal was the peas hybridization made by the modest priest Gregor Mendel in his time?

The award in Economics was given to Jeffrey Miller and Brent Jordan from a University in New Mexico that have come to the conclusion that professional dance girls in strip bars earn a lot more money in their menses days than in normal ones.

The award in Literature was received by David Sims from London, whose "works of art" were called "You are a jerk! A research of fury experiments in different organizations".

Four additional awards this time were especially designed in the Archaeology, Nourishment Science, Cognitology and Biology categories. The Nourishment Science award was won by Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spencer from Italy and Great Britain respectively, who made the discovery that potato chips taste fresher and better when they are very crisp. For this purpose the scientists have made study participants listen to their chewing and after that compared them to the ideal chewing sounds of fresh chips registered on the computer.

The award in Archaeology was given to Astolfu Gomech Mellu Arauju and Jose Carlos Marcelino from a brasilian University in San Paulo. They have studied the way a certain species of animals in South America made us change our impressions about Homo Sapiens that lived on that territory years ago. These animals had moved to different places all the objects the scientists have buried in those grounds for the experiments.

The award in Cognitology, the science of Knowledge, was won by the Japanese and Hungarian researchers who had studied 8 years ago the cognitive abilities of the mucous mould - a monocellular, but multinuclear organism, which was capable of passing through labirints.

And, finally, the last award, the award in Biology, was given to some French scientists who showed that lice living on cats cannot jump as high as their brothers that live on dogs do. Unfortunately, the scientists could not tell the secrets of their original methods of research since they didn't show up at the ceremony.

Posted by summer_rain

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