sealPurdue Science and Health Briefs

March 2000

Bowl fever continues with Purdue's Bug Bowl

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Photos and b-roll of previous Bug Bowls available. Contact Jesica Webb, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2079,

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University is making its second appearance in a bowl this year. But this bowl doesn't have anything to do with football. It's an insect bowl, and the 10th annual Purdue Bug Bowl on April 15 and 16 will be filled with as much action as a Boilermaker football game.

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In the cricket-spitting arena, insects will be flying through the air with the grace of the passes that Drew Brees threw in the New Year's Day Outback Bowl. Cricket spitting, which became part of Bug Bowl in 1997 as a truly tongue-in-cheek contest, has become a national event. CNN covered the event last year, and the Guinness Book of Records now sanctions cricket spitting as an official sport.

Contestants shouldn't expect to walk away the winner unless they've been practicing – the world record is 32 feet, 1 and 1/4 inches. Cricket spitting was so popular in past Bug Bowls that official rules and regulations have been developed. There are now four divisions: men's, women's, youth boys, and youth girls.

Another crowd pleaser, cockroach racing, could be compared to Purdue's offensive running game. It draws people in like flies and keeps them interested for the duration of the contest. Crowd members choose their favorite roach and cheer it on to victory at Purdue's "Roach Hill Downs" racecourse. Official jockeys for each roach are picked from among the young children in the audience. The roaches race for the much-envied "Old Open Can," a bronzed garbage can with a cockroach sitting on top. The names of past winners are engraved on plaques hanging from the side.

No sporting event is complete without food, so the Thomas Say Society – also known as the undergraduate entomology club – will cook up an Epicurean delight, chocolate-covered crickets. Tom Turpin, professor of entomology at Purdue and co-founder of the event, says that chocolate-covered crickets taste just like peanut-flavored candy.

"You taste the chocolate, not the cricket," Turpin says. "Insects do have kind of a nutty taste to them, so it's just like you're eating a chocolate-covered peanut."

Bug Bowl also includes a cake-decorating contest, insect crafts, an insect petting zoo, and the caterpillar canter, a six-legged race where children imitate caterpillar locomotion.

The Bug Bowl is part of Purdue's SpringFest, which draws more than 10,000 people to campus each year. All activities are free and run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days. SpringFest includes the 87th annual Horticulture Show, the 37th annual Veterinary Medicine Open House, an animal sciences open house and scores of other activities. It features departments from the Schools of Agriculture, Consumer and Family Sciences, Science, and Veterinary Medicine.

The Purdue Student Union Board also celebrates Mothers Weekend on April 15 and 16 with an Arts and Crafts Show.

CONTACTS: Tom Turpin, (765) 494-44568,; Jennifer Franklin, (765) 494-9061

Hand sanitizers no substitute for soap and water

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Instant hand sanitizers may not be everything consumers expect, according to a Purdue University professor who teaches sanitation practices for food service workers.

"Waterless, antibacterial hand sanitizers are marketed as a way to 'wash your hands' when soap and water aren't available, and they are especially popular among parents of small children," says Barbara Almanza, associate professor of restaurant, hotel, institutional and tourism management. "But research shows that they do not significantly reduce the overall amount of bacteria on the hands, and in some cases they may even increase it."

Almanza says a hand sanitizer can't take the place of old-fashioned soap and water at home or anywhere else.

"In terms of the regulations regarding food services, the Food and Drug Administration says hand sanitizers may be used as a supplement but not as a substitute for hand washing," Almanza explains. "By the same token, people should not use hand sanitizers in place of a good lathering with soap and water if it's available."

Almanza says the typical hand sanitizer, which is usually alcohol-based, strips the skin of the outer layer of oil, which normally prevents resident bacteria from coming to the surface.

"Generally, this resident flora is not the type that will make us sick," Almanza says, "but the assumption is that when you have an increase in overall bacteria, the chances are better that a disease-causing strain will be present."

Yet the manufacturers of these products can continue to claim that the sanitizers are up to 99.9 percent effective in killing germs because they were tested on inanimate surfaces rather than human hands.

"The physiological complexity of human skin makes it very difficult to use for testing of this nature," Almanza says. "The most clear and consistent results were going to come from using surfaces for which the variables can be controlled, and that's just not real life. Real life is not neat and tidy."

CONTACT: Almanza, (765) 494-9847;

Company helps businesses find information fast

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A high-tech venture in the Purdue Research Park is making it possible for companies to access their own corporate network data with the speed and efficiency of an Internet-like search engine.

Maxim/IT, a start-up company nurtured in one of Purdue's business incubators, has developed a corporate network – or intranet – search engine called "Find?View" that uses Java programming language to access all types of engineering and manufacturing information within seconds. The platform-independent program weaves through an intranet's indexing information from various systems, servers, locations, directories and even supplier catalogs.

"We developed Find?View because access to information should never be an obstacle in the corporate world," said Nainesh Rathod, president and chief executive officer of Maxim I/T Inc.

Companies have invested thousands, in some cases millions, of dollars on software promising to make internal information easily accessible and organized. But a 1996 study found that these companies had access to only 40 percent of their total data at best, and much of that access was not corporatewide, Rathod said.

That's because, unlike the Internet which finds World Wide Web sites by scanning hypertext markup language files (HTML), the ability to access data across an intranet has been hindered by the myriad of applications holding the data. The applications include CAD (Computer Aided Design), CAM (Computer Aided Machining), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning), and legacy databases.

Rathod said Find?View can index information in any form – text, binary or database content – eliminating the need to convert documentation into an HTML format for search engine recognition.

Find?View's new approach to data management makes it possible for a company's constantly changing product information to be easily cataloged for internal use or external display on the Web, Rathod said. Catalogs that normally take months to develop, whether paper or electronic, can be kept up-to-date without typesetting, proofreading or printing costs. Customers will also have instant look-up capability to find products.

Find?View already has found a home in some leading Fortune 1000 companies, Rathod said.

Founded by Rathod in 1996, Maxim I/T has focused on industrial design data management and software used to process corporate information. Maxim I/T has headquarters in one of Purdue Research Park's two small-business incubator buildings. The park, which opened in 1961, is home to 81 companies that employ 2,500 people.

CONTACT: Nainesh Rathod, (765) 463-4710;

Compiled by Susan Gaidos, (765) 494-2081;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Six-year-old Hannah Becker handles a 9-inch tropical millipede as sister Erica, 3, looks on at Purdue's 1999 Bug Bowl. Both girls are from West Lafayette. This year's Bug Bowl will be April 15-16. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)
A publication-quality photograph is available at the News Service Web site and at the ftp site. Photo ID: bugbowl2000.preview

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