Saturday, September 10, 2005



Three Italian (what a surprise) chemists Marazziti, Rossi, and Cassano decided to investigate romance! With their colleague Akiskal, they discovered that biochemically, romantic love may be indistinguishable from having severe obsessive-compulsive disorder!*

The main finding of their study was that subjects in the early romantic phase of a love relationship were not different from OCD patients in terms of the density of the platelet 5-HT transporter, which proved to be significantly lower than in the normal controls.


The Ig® Nobel Prizes are awarded annually by "The Annals of Improbable Research," a scientific journal dedicated to celebrating the unusual, honoring the imaginative, and spurring interest in science, medicine, and technology.

LISTEN TO THE NPR CLIP FROM THE CEREMONY HERE. Three Nobel prize laureates karaoke the inventor of the karaoke machine at the end of the 2004 ceremony at Harvard with "You're just too good to be true."

Here are the 2004 winners:

Steven Stack and James Gundlach for their published report "The Effect of Country Music on Suicide."
PUBLISHED IN: Social Forces, vol. 71, no. 1, September 1992, pp. 211-8.

"The results of a multiple regression analysis of 49 metropolitan areas show that the greater the airtime devoted to country music, the greater the white suicide rate. The effect is independent of divorce, southernness, poverty, and gun availability."

Ramesh Balasubramaniam and Michael Turvey, for exploring and explaining the dynamics of hula-hooping.
REFERENCE: "Coordination Modes in the Multisegmental Dynamics of Hula Hooping," Ramesh Balasubramaniam and Michael T. Turvey, Biological Cybernetics, vol. 90, no. 3, March 2004, pp. 176-90.

Jillian Clarke of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, and then Howard University, for investigating the scientific validity of the Five-Second Rule about whether it's safe to eat food that's been dropped on the floor. (no link available)

The Coca-Cola Company of Great Britain, for using advanced technology to convert ordinary tap water into Dasani, a transparent form of water, which for precautionary reasons has been made unavailable to consumers.

"First, Coca-Cola's new brand of "pure" bottled water, Dasani, was revealed earlier this month to be tap water taken from the mains. Then it emerged that what the firm described as its "highly sophisticated purification process", based on NASA spacecraft technology, was in fact reverse osmosis used in many modest domestic water purification units.

"Yesterday, just when executives in charge of a £7m marketing push for the product must have felt it could get no worse, it did precisely that.

The entire UK supply of Dasani was pulled off the shelves because it has been contaminated with bromate, a cancer-causing chemical." (Reported in "The Guardian")

Donald J. Smith and his father, the late Frank J. Smith, of Orlando Florida, for patenting the combover (U.S. Patent #4,022,227).

"A method of styling hair to cover partial baldness using only the hair on a person's head. The hair styling requires dividing a person's hair into three sections and carefully folding one section over another." (IF ONLY THERE WERE ILLUSTRATION & PHOTOS!)

The American Nudist Research Library of Kissimmee, Florida, (located on the grounds of the Cypress Cove Nudist Colony!) for preserving nudist history so that everyone can see it.

Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris for demonstrating that when people pay close attention to something, it's all too easy to overlook anything else -- even a woman in a gorilla suit.
REFERENCE: "Gorillas in Our Midst," Daniel J. Simons and Christopher F. Chabris, vol. 28, Perception, 1999, pages 1059-74.

The Vatican, for outsourcing prayers to India.

"With Roman Catholic clergy in short supply in the United States, Indian priests are picking up some of their work, saying Mass for special intentions, in a sacred if unusual version of outsourcing," The New York Times reported.

Daisuke Inoue of Hyogo, Japan, for inventing karaoke, thereby providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other.

HERE you can hear him accept his prize.

In 1971, he leased the first set of karaoke machines to nightspots in Kobe. Despite the invention's popularity, he made little profit because he didn't patent the machine. It is now a $10 billion-a-year business.

Ben Wilson, Lawrence Dill, Robert Batty, Magnus Whalberg, and Hakan Westerberg for showing that herrings apparently communicate by farting.
REFERENCE: "Sounds Produced by Herring (Clupea harengus) Bubble Release," Magnus Wahlberg and HÃ¥kan Westerberg, Aquatic Living Resources, vol. 16, 2003, pp. 271-5.
REFERENCE: "Pacific and Atlantic Herring Produce Burst Pulse Sounds," Ben Wilson, Robert S. Batty and Lawrence M. Dill, Biology Letters, vol. 271, 2003, pp. S95-S97.
Here, listen to it yourself!

Former winners have included

Chittaranjan Andrade and B.S. Srihari of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India, for their probing medical discovery that nose picking is a common activity among adolescents. [REFERENCE: "A Preliminary Survey of Rhinotillexomania in an Adolescent Sample," Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, vol. 62, no. 6, June 2001, pp. 426-31.]

David Dunning of Cornell University and Justin Kreuger of the University of Illinois, for their modest report, "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments." [Published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 77, no. 6, December 1999, pp. 1121-34.] (too bad, no link)

Donatella Marazziti, Alessandra Rossi, and Giovanni B. Cassano of the University of Pisa, and Hagop S. Akiskal of the University of California (San Diego). [REFERENCE: "Alteration of the platelet serotonin transporter in romantic love," Marazziti D, Akiskal HS, Rossi A, Cassano GB, Psychological Medicine, 1999 May;29(3):741-5.]

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