The 24/7 Lectures

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research.

Transcribed by David Kessler

Four Nobel laureates enjoy their first taste of Soylent. Photo: David Holzman.

As part of the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, four of the world’s great thinkers were invited to give 24/7 Lectures. Each 24/7 Lecture was on an assigned topic. The lecturer was asked to explain that topic twice: FIRST, a complete technical description in TWENTY-FOUR (24) SECONDS; and THEN a clear summary that anyone can understand, in SEVEN (7) WORDS. The time and word limits were enforced by the Ig Nobel referee, Mr. John Barrett, and by the Ig Nobel V-Chip Monitor, Melissa Franklin. Here are the complete transcripts of this year’s 24/7 Lectures.

Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate in Economics
TOPIC: Income Inequality
Complete technical description in TWENTY-FOUR (24) SECONDS:

The dispersion of the income distribution as measured by the Gini coefficient—not to be confused with the “I dream of Gini” coefficient—has expanded in many developed and emerging economies. One explanation is skilled-biased technical change, wherein the productivity of high-skill workers is enhanced by technical progress more than for their lower-skilled contemporaries. An alternative theory by Thomas Piketty works through the interest rate exceeding population growth. Critics say Piketty’s theory is rickety. He says they’re too persnickety.

Clear summary that anyone can understand, in SEVEN (7) WORDS:
The rich get richer. The poor… don’t.

Carol Greider, Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine
TOPIC: Telomeres
Complete technical description in TWENTY-FOUR (24) SECONDS:

Telomeres are repeated DNA sequences, TTAGGG, TTAGGG, etc. that protect chromosome ends. Every time a cell divides, some sequence is lost and telomeres shorten. However! Telomerase can come to the rescue and elongate telomeres by adding TTAGGG, TTAGGG, etc. So telomeres are in a continuous equilibrium: shortening and lengthening, shortening and lengthening. When they are too short, cells die.

Clear summary that anyone can understand, in SEVEN (7) WORDS:
Telomeres: keeping your cells alive since… forever.

Corky White, Professor of Anthropology, Boston University
Complete technical description in TWENTY-FOUR (24) SECONDS:

[NOTE: This lecture is divided into categories: two lines of Food Science, two lines of Food People, two lines of Food Diets, and one line of Food.] Pacojet, taco lab, vat meat, Soylent. Nathan Myrvold, Harold McGee, Ferran Adria, sous vide. Michael Pollan, Colonel Sanders, Uncle Ben. Roy Choi, Roy Rogers, Ottolenghi, Julia Child. Forager, paleo, locavore, gleaner. Insectivore, gluten-free, cannibal, vegan. Hostess Twinkies, chicharrones, ramen, haggis!

Clear summary that anyone can understand, in SEVEN (7) WORDS:
Pemmican to Nordic—ess, ess, mein kind.

Rob Rhinehart, founder, Soylent
TOPIC: Metabolism
Complete technical description in TWENTY-FOUR (24) SECONDS:

Metabolism can be understood as two complimentary processes: catabolism, which breaks down organic matter into constituent matter and energy via cellular respiration, and anabolism, which builds these components back up into useful complexes, such as proteins and nucleic acids. Enzymes are the proteins that are keys to these chemical transformations. Fundamentally, metabolism is about controlling the flow of energy which originates in the super-hot core of the sun via fusion.

Clear summary that anyone can understand, in SEVEN (7) WORDS:
Thanks to enzymes, humans are solar powered.

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Looks like Soylent Beige to me. Prof. Nebulous had something to say about that stuff. If you don't know Nebulous, it might be worth looking for if you have a silly sense of humour.
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