2008 Ig Nobel Prizes awarded
In the 2008 Ig Nobel Awards, presented Oct. 2, prizes went out to researchers from the Boston University Medical Center for their discovery that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide. A secondary Ig Nobel went to researchers from Taipei Medical University for extending the research to prove that Diet Coke works much better than regular Coke in this respect.
This year, the Medicine Ig Nobel went to Dan Ariely of Duke University, who discovered in his research into placebos that expensive fake medicine works much better than cheap fake medicine.
The Ig Nobel Awards are annually given for research achievements and are supposed to be humorous versions of the actual Nobel Prizes. Previous winners include research into the side-effects of sword-swallowing and the use of Viagra in alleviating jet lag in hamsters.
Mediterranean diet claimed healthy
People following a long-term Mediterranean diet have a lower incidence of cardiovascular failure, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent compilation published by the British Medical Journal. In the studies, over 1.5 million people were observed for periods of up to 18 years.
The Mediterranean diet traditionally consists of large amounts of plant foods and fruit, with olive oil as the main source of fat. The main benefit of the Mediterranean diet — aside from being low in saturated fats and red meat — is that it is easy to stick to, unlike most weight-loss or health-conscious diets.
However, the Mediterranean diet is slowly disappearing as fast-food restaurants continue to expand in Europe. As traditional healthy diets begin to disappear, many fear an obesity epidemic in Europe may soon break loose.
Source: The New York Times
AIDS may have existed a century ago
According to a study published in the journal Nature, the AIDS virus may have begun infecting humans as early as 1908.
Research into genetic mutation of the AIDS virus allowed scientists to retrace the common ancestors of the virus, placing an estimate between 1884 to 1924 for the time when the virus first jumped from chimps to humans in Africa. Although the virus may have been contracted by human beings even earlier, a lack of large cities stifled the ability of the virus to spread before that.
$3.2 billion study on child health
NIH will be conducting a $3.2 billion study, which will monitor the health of 100,000 children from before birth until age 21. The study, to be launched in January, is aimed at helping health officials learn new techniques for treating diseases and for preventing them. The study will be conducted at 105 locations across the United States and will help detect how factors in early childhood can affect the development of children in later stages of life.
Through this study, officials plan to study the factors causing conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, birth defects, diabetes, and asthma.