I Was Kinda Right

The University of Illinois alumni population in R&D is quite small. In a division of about 400 people, I was the fifth to join from the blessed U of I. Every so often, if we see Illinois in the news, we email around to each other to brag on our esteemed university. This one just came across my desk. [Click on pic for full article, but if you don’t want to read, I’ll summarize below.]


Seems like the scientists over at the U of I have designed an honest-to-God electronic tongue that can distinguish even the subtlest of differences among different sweetners in a variety of different food applications. They’re actually looking to expand this into the medical community by calibrating it to detect blood glucose levels. Go Illini!

The electronic tongue is not a new idea. The article below references not-so-successful past attempts to develop an electronic tongue. This disconcerting robot is a perfect example.

Cute, isn’t he? Apparently you can stick a food in his mouth and he’ll tell you what it is! I suppose if you got tired of, you know, LOOKING at your food to identify it, you could invest in a robot, which I can only imagine would be upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe it’s a backup plan for when we’re all driven into bomb shelters to seek refuge from nuclear winter and are forced to eat pureed food for the rest of our lives. This guy would come in handy.

Or would he? Apparently, and you’ll get the details if you actually click on the above article, when a reporter stuck his hand in the robot, the robot identified him as bacon. Any researcher will tell you that results are only reliable if you have multiple measurements, so the cameraman stuck his hand in the robot next. His result? Prosciutto.

As much as I want to laugh at the absurdity of this, I have always told Andy that I thought prosciutto tasted like feet.


I was kinda right.

Mindless Eating

We’re delving into dangerous territory. I’ve been considering starting a recommendations section but have resisted because well… who wants to trust the tastes of a Midwestern 20-something? I can resist no longer.

While in grad school, I had a weekly (ahem… required) graduate seminar. One Friday, we had a speaker that actually inspired me to put away the Sudoku puzzle. His name was Brian Wansink. At the time, we was a professor at the business college at the University of Illinois. We recently lost him to Cornell, but no matter.

Not only was Brian a fantabulous speaker, but his area of research is simply fascinating. Why the heck do we overeat? Clearly it’s been an increasing problem in the United States, and we all know this. I’m starting to fall asleep at the keyboard just typing it out. Brian has spent the last who-knows-how-many years researching the environmental and psychological cues that surround our eating experiences, and he’s written a book about it. It’s called Mindless Eating. And no… he’s not a psychologist, he’s a marketing guy. (Further proof that the line between these two fields grows ever thinner.)

So what’s so cool about his work? His experiments. Absolutely hilarious. From handing out stale, free popcorn at theaters to rigging soup bowls so that they automatically refill from the bottom, unbeknownst to the eater. In what type of glass is a bartender likely to overfill by 28%? Many, many different studies have been done. And, wait for it… much of the research was done while he was professor at the Universtiy of Illinois! In fact, the site of many experiments was at my home sweet home, the Bevier Café.

So check it out if you feel so inclined. I don’t know how widespread the distribution is, but odds are, it’s gonna be popular. But what the heck do I know? 😉

The Illini Fan

I got this from a college friend… thanks B-rice!

After living a full life, Dick Vitale died. When he got to heaven God was showing him around. They came to a modest little house with a faded ACC flag in the window.

“This house is yours for eternity, Dickie. This is very special, not everyone gets a house up here.” Vitale felt special and walked up to his house. On his way up to the porch, he noticed another house.

It was a 3-story mansion with an Orange and Blue walk, a flagpole with an huge Illini flag and in every window a towel with a big block “I.”

Dickie looked at God and said, “I’m not trying to be ungrateful, but I have a question. I was a great announcer, I made college basketball great to watch, and my personality was one of a kind.”

God said, “So whats your point?” Dick replied, “Well, why does Bruce Weber get a better house than me?”

God chuckled, and said, “Dick you silly sportscaster, that’s not Weber’s house, it’s mine!”