Spermicide Coke, stale chips research wins Ig Nobels

Thu Oct 2, 2008 8:00pm EDT
 
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By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A researcher who figured out that Coke explodes sperm and scientists who discovered that people will happily eat stale chips if they crunch loudly enough won alternative "Ig Nobel" prizes on Thursday.

Other winners included physicists who found out that anything that can tangle, will tangle and a team of biologists who ascertained that dog fleas jump farther than cat fleas.

The Ig Nobels honor real research, but are meant as a funny alternative to next week's deadly serious Nobel prizes for medicine, chemistry, physics, economics, literature and peace.

Awarded by the editors of the Annals of Improbable Research, a scientific humor magazine, the prizes are based on published research, some intended to be humorous but often not. Usually the "honored" researchers go alone with the joke.

Deborah Anderson of Boston University Medical Center and colleagues were awarded the chemistry prize for a 1985 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that found Coca-Cola kills sperm.

She said she was serious in testing the soft drink because women were using it in a douche as a contraceptive and, later, to try to protect themselves from the AIDS virus.

"It definitely wouldn't work as a contraceptive because sperm swims so fast," Anderson said. But Coke made with sugar quickly kills sperm, she said, probably because sperm soak it up. "The sperm just kind of explode," she said in a telephone interview.

It kills the AIDS virus too, she said.   Continued...