Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hamsters with jet lag

I have to rush this morning, but I must share something I read on The Writer's Almanac yesterday. Apparently, there's an an annual ceremony called the Ig Nobel Prizes. They are "held on the campus at Harvard and handed out by real Nobel laureates. The prizes, established in 1991, are a parody of the Nobel awards and are for achievements that 'first make people laugh, and then make them think.'

And they really do! "Recent science and technology awards have gone to Argentinean scientists 'for their discovery that Viagra aids jet lag recovery in hamsters' (Aviation); and a Princeton professor claimed the prize in literature recently for his 17-page cognitive psychology report entitled 'Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.' The awards ceremony, held in early October each year, always concludes with the proclamation: 'If you didn't win a prize — and especially if you did — better luck next year!'"

This is the kind of stuff that rekindles my faith in the silliness of mankind.

3 comments:

melissa bastian. said...

Ahhh, precious ignobility. These are always good stuff.

What it often makes me wonder is, where did the funding come from? (For, say, the jet-lagged hamsters?)

p.s. - you MUST have gotten mail by now.

Genevieve said...

Yeah dude! Wedding invitations have been received! The kids were excited, and the date has been reserved :)

About the hamsters, it really did make me think. Was that experiment done completely on purpose, or was it on accident? Did someone's hamster dip into the viagra before a flight without it's owner's awareness? And if so, how did anyone know to study its behavior? How long have scientists been taking hamsters on flights so that they knew what normal jet lag was like for them and then were able to compare? Are we talking about an international flight, where a hamster would lose hours and be confused about the time of day or are we talking about short flight where he would get a bag of peanuts but no dinner and a movie? We need to know these things.

Tom said...

What size is a hamster plane? Do they occupy the same airspace as regular human passenger planes? And do they get bags of peanuts that are the same size? Because percentage-wise that would be more peanuts for them. I guess it wouldn't matter, though, because they could probably load up six or eight bags of peanuts in their cheeks before they boarded, and then just eat them on the way, one by one.

Which makes me wonder if they have rules against "carry-on edibles" or "cheek-baggage" on hamster planes.

You bring up important stuff. I'm glad these concerns have come to the fore. I don't know why CNN isn't doing something with this.

My word verification is "chill." I don't know whether that's descriptive or hortatory in nature. Or perhaps it's a request?