Was there Real Butter in Einstein’s Pi?

Einstein eating pieFor several years I’ve resisted pressure from my health conscious family to stray from one of my most delicious guilty pleasures: real butter.  We’ve managed to meet in the middle.  I buy real butter for me and Smart Butter for the family. Smart Butter is an olive oil-based spread that claims to include ingredients to reduce your bad cholesterol.  Can’t go wrong, right?  Well, unless you want to improve the speed with which you can solve math problems.

In a recent study Eri Gentry, along with a team of scientists, used a control group methodology to examine whether participants who ate real butter performed differently on math tests than those who opted to use an alternative butter-like option. Researchers found that those who choose to spread real butter on their morning toast completed math problems more accurately and at a faster pace than those choosing an oil alternative.

While I was quick to share the good news with my family, it goes well beyond enjoying real butter guilt-free on my morning muffin. This research is just one example of innovative biological research escaping the boundaries of red tape into the realm of collaborative scientific studies.  It also demonstrates how socially confident consumers are being rewired to embrace emerging socio-economic models.

Eri Gentry, Executive Director and founder of  Bio Curious, earned a degree in Economics from Yale but couldn’t silence her strong urge to conduct biological studies for the fun of it.  Her passion resulted in an open invitation to other like-minded scientists to join her in biology research.  The response was strong and studies like Butter-Mind have been innovating and socializing scientific research ever since.

The Bio Curious? mission applauds affordable innovative biology research for all who want to experiment in the field but without the constraints of bureaucracy commonly faced by scientists. Interest in the emerging community biology lab comes from amateurs, inventors, entrepreneurs and many simply interested to experiment with friends.  The common bonds:  curiosity, passion for biology research and the thrill of discovery.

With 2400 sq. ft. of new scientists’ co-working space in Sunnyvale, CA, funded by 239 investors via Kickstarter, affordable innovations in biology Eri’s dream, has been transformed into a reality. The complete working lab and technical library are designed for entrepreneurs to have low cost access to equipment and materials.  It also functions a training center for biological research techniques with an emphasis on safety. And it serves as a meeting place for interested citizen scientists, hobbyists, activists and students of biology. Plus the Bio Curious community remains a non-profit organization and is completely run by volunteers.

One reason I found the Bio Curious story so inspiring is because not only did Eri follow her passion, she acted on it.  And her disruptive efforts are helping to transform the traditional  biology research model into a more social research model.  What are your thoughts on this type of transformation?

Special thanks to Marina Gorbis, who shared the Bio Curious story during her presentation at the World Business Forum 2011  in NYC.  Gorbis is the Executive Director of  Institute for the Future and a leader in helping companies plan for the future.

(Recently published on Collaborative Innovation Blog)

About the Author:  Jill Hart, founder of Brain Logic, LLC,  helps companies understand how their customers think in order to design their technology, products and processes to deliver optimal customer experiences and boost the ROI of their investments. For more information visit www.brainlogiconline.com  or email jill@brainlogiconline.com

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