December 22, 2005
Science and the Private Life of Teaspoons
LONDON -- Australian scientists have proved what is common knowledge to most people -- that teaspoons appear to have minds of their own.
In a study at their own facility, a group of scientists from the Macfarlane Burnet Institute for Medical Research and Public Health in Melbourne secretly numbered 70 teaspoons and tracked their movements over five months.Supporting their expectations, 80 percent of the spoons vanished during the period -- although those in private areas of the institute lasted nearly twice as long as those in communal sections.
"At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a workable population of 70 teaspoons," they wrote in Friday's festive edition of the British Medical Journal.
They said their research proved that teaspoons were an essential part of office life and the rapid rate of disappearance proved that this was under relentless assault.
Regretting that scientific literature was "strangely bereft" of teaspoon-related research, the scientists offered a few theories to explain the phenomenon.
Taking a tip from Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books, they suggested that the teaspoons were quietly migrating to a planet uniquely populated by "spoonoid" life forms living in a spoonish state of Nirvana.
They also offered the phenomenon of "resistentialism" in which inanimate objects like teaspoons have a natural aversion to humans.
On the other hand, they suggested, people might simply be taking them.