a Toast Right - You too can describe the aroma of your wine
exactly the way it is. (4/3/01)
Buzz - Scientific research gives some insight into what happens
when we drink, which could help keep your night from being one
that youâ€™d rather forget... or canâ€™t remember at all.
Elsewhere on the web
The Foam Book
- an intro to aqueous foam technology
under the Microscope - See the crystal structure of beers
from around the world.
Trips to Black Holes and Neutron Stars Page - Robert Nemiroff,
Michigan Technological University
This week, a few scientists won the Nobel Prize for outstanding discoveries.
And as this ScienCentral News video reports, some others won the Ig Nobel prize
for research thatâ€™s… highly unusual.
A German physicist won applause at Harvard for studying beer foam. Although
his work sounds silly, he found a way to illustrate a law that applies to
daily life, and to the farthest reaches of the cosmos.
Every October, a week before the Nobel
Prizes are announced to honor key scientific discoveries, several Nobel
Laureates hand out the Ig Nobel Prizes for results that “cannot or should
not be reproduced.” Some winners actually have lobbied to be awarded
an Ig, but that doesnâ€™t mean itâ€™s all a big joke. All the prizewinning
science has been published in reputable journals, and one Ig Nobel winner
is rumored to be on the short-list for a Nobel.
The Ig Nobels were launched 12 years ago by the Annals
of Improbable Research, a bimonthly magazine devoted to skewering “inflated
research and personalities.” Each year, winners travel from all over
the world at their own expense to Harvard University, where they are presented
with the coveted Ig Nobel Prize at a very popular evening of music and skits
that spoof the annual Nobel ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden.
Nobel Laureate Dudley Herschbach is a regular presenter at the Ig Nobels and
the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University. Herschbach helps oversee the magazine Science News, and is committed to furthering public
understanding of and enthusiasm for science. “The joy of science,”
he says, “is that you can learn something and have fun, too. The Ig
Nobels present that spirit very well.” He points out that black holes
decay in the same way beer foam does. Cosmologist Stephen
Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, describes the life cycle
of black holes in detail.
Herschbach also points out that beer foam is an excellent example of a fractal,
a mathematical tool that shows order in what seems to be chaos. And he jokes
that another example of a fractal is the coast of Maine, which boasts as many
irregularities as beer foam: “The length depends on whether you measure
it on a map with a ruler, or whether you bicycle along it.”