Friday, October 5, 2007

In hamsters, Viagra helps alleviate jet lag

Yes, researchers have proven it... and last night at Harvard, they won an Ig Nobel Prize.

Each year, the Igs are awarded by the Annals of Improbable Research for scientific achievements that "cannot (or should not) be reproduced." They're handed out by actual Nobel laureates, who always seem to be having a lot more fun that at the *real* Nobel ceremony in Stockholm. Craig Mello of UMass, who won the Nobel in Medicine last year, was one of the presenters. (If you have not been to the awards ceremony before, rectify that as soon as possible.)

Here's coverage from The Tech at MIT. From the story:

    Mayu Yamamoto from Japan won the Ig Nobel prize in chemistry for her development of a novel way to extract vanillin, the main component in vanilla bean extract, from cow dung. In tribute to Yamamoto’s achievement, Toscanni’s imitated her achievement and distributed samples of the resulting ice cream to Nobel laureates seated on the stage. Loud chants of “Eat it! Eat it!” from the audience finally persuaded the skeptical Nobel laureates to try a taste of their samples. For those brave and adventurous enough, Toscanni’s is offering a free tasting of the ice cream today at 11 a.m. at their Central Square Location.

There's coverage in The Guardian, The San Jose Mercury News, and ABC Science Online. The BBC story leads off with a prize given to the researchers at an Air Force lab working on a "gay bomb," a chemical weapon intended to make enemy troops sexually irresistible to each other. More on that an other prizes in the Reuters piece.

The event is overseen by comic genius Marc Abrahams, who also edits the Annals of Improbable Research.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Back in 02140

I moved back last weekend from San Francisco to Cambridge after a two-year sojourn. (I still expect to be making about a half-dozen trips a year to California, and blogging about the convergence of technology and the entertainment industry at CinemaTech.)

But I'm switching gears at the Globe once again, starting a new column this Sunday called "Innovation Economy," which will focus on start-ups, venture capitalists, research labs, inventors, and big companies here in New England.

It's a patch of ground that I haven't been roaming much since my @large column ended in November 2005...but one that I've really loved exploring in the past. Some ancient history:

    From 1995 to 1997, I was part of the founding team of At, we also worked with the first generation of Internet companies in Boston (a few I remember were net.Genesis, Net Daemons Associates, Firefly Networks, and VirtuFlex.) Occasionally, I contributed to a Globe column called Boston.comment that ran Thursdays on what was then called the "Plugged In" page. (Frank Hertz and Chuck Chow were my co-conspirators who, luckily, knew how to write.)

    In 1997, I started covering New England-related stories for Wired Magazine and Wired News. (Here's one of my first pieces for Wired, about Forrester Research, and a piece of similar vintage from Wired News, about Cambridge's annual IgNobel Prize ceremony.)

    In 1998 and 1999, I started a monthly column called "Tech Talk" for Boston Magazine and wrote a series of features for the monthly about local Internet celebs like CMGI chairman David Wetherell. (That job was where I met my wife, Amy -- who just this week began working at Boston Magazine once again.)

    From 2000 to 2005, I wrote the weekly @large column on Mondays, which covered tech, biotech, medical devices, and venture capital throughout New England. We also ran a series of panel discussions at the Globe's auditorium called ".COMversations," which were excerpted in the Globe. (Here are the first and last columns in that string.)

My goals for the Innovation Economy column are to tell the most interesting and important stories about what's new in New England -- and to provide some added context here.

I'm eager to hear about the stories *you* think ought to be told. (My e-mail is scott - at - My bias, as always, is toward stories that haven't already been told elsewhere.

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