So she and her colleagues decided to put the soft drink to the test. In the lab, that is.
For discovering that, yes indeed, Coke was a spermicide, Anderson and her team are among this year's winners of the Ig Nobel Prize, the annual award given by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine for oddball but often surprisingly practical scientific achievements.
The ceremony at Harvard University, in which actual Nobel laureates bestow the awards, also honored a British psychologist who found that foods that sound better taste better; a group of researchers who discovered exotic dancers make more money when they are at peak fertility; and a pair of Brazilian archaeologists who determined armadillos can change the course of history.
Geoffrey Miller's work could affect the earning potential of exotic dancers everywhere.
Miller, an associate professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico, and his colleagues knew of prior studies that found women are more attractive to men when at peak fertility. So they took the work one step further — by studying earnings of exotic dancers.
In the 18 subjects Miller studied, average earnings were $250 for a five-hour shift. That jumped to $350 to $400 per five-hour shift when the women were their most fertile, he said.
"I have heard, anecdotally, that some lap dancers have scheduled shifts based on this research," he said.
Armadillos helped win an Ig Nobel for Astolfo Gomes de Mello Araujo and Jose Carlos Marcelino, archaeologists at the Universidade De Sao Paulo in Brazil.
Pesky armadillos, they found, can move artifacts in archaeological dig sites up, down and even laterally by several meters as they dig. Armadillos are burrowing mammals and prolific diggers. Their abodes can range from emergency burrows 20 inches (50 centimeters) deep, to more permanent homes reaching 20 feet (6 meters) deep, with networks of tunnels and multiple entrances, according to the Humane Society of the United States' Web site.
Araujo was thrilled to win. "There is no Nobel Prize for archaeology, so an Ig Nobel is a good thing," he said in an e-mail.
Here's the full list of winners, with links to the research if available:
- Nutrition: Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence for demonstrating that food tastes better when it sounds better (report from The Guardian).
- Peace: The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.
- Archaeology: Astolfo Gomes de Mello Araujo and Jose Carlos Marcelino for showing armadillos can scramble the contents of an archaeological dig (report from Natural History).
- Biology: Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert and Michel Franc for discovering that fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than fleas that live on a cat.
- Medicine: Dan Ariely for demonstrating that expensive fake medicine is more effective than cheap fake medicine (report in Stanford GSB News).
- Cognitive science: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero, Akio Ishiguro and Agota Toth for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles (report in Math in the Media).
- Economics: Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tyber and Brent Jordan for discovering that exotic dancers earn more when at peak fertility.
- Physics: Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith for proving that heaps of string or hair will inevitably tangle.
- Chemistry: Sheree Umpierre, Joseph Hill and Deborah Anderson for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and C.Y. Hong, C.C. Shieh, P. Wu and B.N. Chiang for proving it is not (report at Snopes.com).
- Literature: David Sims for his study “You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations” (report from The Boston Globe).
Full article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26996167/?GT1=43001
Sources: MSNBC, Associated Press