Friday, October 07, 2005

Always follow your dreams

The Winner Is... Fake Dog Testicle Creator

BOSTON - Gregg Miller mortgaged his home and maxed out his credit cards to
mass produce his invention ‹ prosthetic testicles for neutered dogs.

What started 10 years ago with an experiment on an unwitting Rottweiler
named Max has turned into a thriving mail-order business. And on Thursday
night Miller's efforts earned him a dubious yet strangely coveted honor: the
Ig Nobel Prize for medicine.

"Considering my parents thought I was an idiot when I was a kid, this is a
great honor," he said. "I wish they were alive to see it."

The Ig Nobels, given at Harvard University by Annals of Improbable Research
magazine, celebrate the humorous, creative and odd side of science.

Miller has sold more than 150,000 of his Neuticles, more than doubling his
$500,000 investment. The silicone implants come in different sizes, shapes,
weights and degrees of firmness.

The product's Web site says Neuticles allow a pet "to retain his natural
look" and "self esteem."

Although the Ig Nobels are not exactly prestigious, many recipients are,
like Miller, happy to win.

"Most scientists ‹ no matter what they're doing, good or bad ‹ never get any
attention at all," said Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals of Improbable

Some, like Benjamin Smith of the University of Adelaide in Australia, who
won the biology prize, actually nominated their own work. "I've been a fan
of the Ig Nobels for a while," he said.

Smith's team studied and catalogued different scents emitted by more than
100 species of frogs under stress. Some smelled like cashews, while others
smelled like licorice, mint or rotting fish.

He recalled getting strange looks when he'd show up at zoos asking to smell
the frogs. "I've been turned away at the gate," he said.

This year's other Ig Nobel winners include:

€ PHYSICS: Since 1927, researchers at the University of Queensland in
Australia have been tracking a glob of congealed black tar as it drips
through a funnel ‹ at a rate of one drop every nine years.

€ PEACE: Two researchers at Newcastle University in England monitored the
brain activity of locusts as they watched clips from the movie "Star Wars."

€ CHEMISTRY: An experiment at the University of Minnesota was designed to
prove whether people can swim faster or slower in syrup than in water.

The Ig Nobel for literature went to the Nigerians who introduced millions of
e-mail users to a "cast of rich characters ... each of whom requires just a
small amount of expense money so as to obtain access to the great wealth to
which they are entitled."

buzz this