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Date Answered: 12/19/2012
Do milkshakes really bring all the boys to the yard? Has this been confirmed by science?
Dear Better than Yours,

QB is quite fascinated by the world of frozen, sugary dairy beverages, and was happy to take on your question using expert research skills. QB can teach you, and doesn’t even have to charge! QB would like first to mention that it would be quite inconceivable for all the boys to be brought to the yard. From UN data that QB was directed to by doing a search for “world population” in the Credo online reference collection, in 2010, there were approximately 2,452,819,000 people under the age of 20 in the world. Assuming that about half of these were gendered male—and thus were “boys”—that’s still 1.23 billion boys to fit into the yard. Not a very plausible scenario, in any case.

Moving on to the heart of your question, though, QB’s most arduous searches—wading through science encyclopedias, databases that index peer-reviewed science research, and good ol’ Google results—have failed to bring up any evidence that science has confirmed that milkshakes, in fact, bring boys to the yard. (QB, did find, however, information about the fascinating life of Ray Kroc, who sold a machine capable of making multiple milkshakes at once, which he presented to none other than the McDonald’s brothers. We can thank Kroc for mass-produced milkshakes—as well as for the McDonald’s franchise itself!)

QB isn’t content to give up there, oh no! QB remembered hearing some time ago that participants in the University of Chicago’s legendary Scavenger Hunt had done some mathematical conjecturing on this very topic, and was pleased to find examples of some of their work. To summarize some of their findings, first define “my yard” as a Hausdorff space containing a collection x of elements of the set containing milkshakes. Then assume that there exists an x that is an element of the set containing milkshakes and a y that is an element of the set containing boys, and assume that the limit as x approaches y of x minus y equaling zero implies that the absolute value of x minus an arbitrary epsilon is less than the absolute value of “my yard.” Following this logic, then, for every yard y, if there exists a boy b that is an element of y, then y is “my yard.” In essence this mathematically proves there is both a milkshake and a boy in the yard.

Now that we know that it is theoretically possible for milkshakes to bring boys to the yard, does it actually occur? As QB has stated, it doesn’t appear science has gotten on the task of figuring out the answer to this question. This doesn’t mean that science couldn’t answer the question, though. If you’re truly interested in confirming your hypothesis, QB could help you devise your own experiment using scientific methods to find out for yourself.

According to the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, “the scientific method is a means for checking hypotheses for truth.” For your experiment, you could create a control yard with no milkshakes and an experimental yard with one or more milkshakes, and then compare the number of boys that come to each yard to find if the milkshake(s) create a statistically significant increase in the number of boys that come to the yard. A frequently cited criterion for a scientific experiment is that it is repeatable, which when dealing with people and social situations is nigh on impossible—one can’t ever truly recreate exactly the same social scenario at another point in time to retest it. However, this is the most scientific way to approach the conundrum of milkshakes, boys, and yards.


Source(s) Used to Answer Question:

Bridgman, P.W., and G. Holton. Science. (2006). In McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Retrieved from http://proxy2.library.illinois.edu/login?url=/login?qurl=http://www.credoreference.com/entry/conscitech/science

Bunge, M. Scientific methods. (2006). In McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Retrieved from http://proxy2.library.illinois.edu/login?url=/login?qurl=http://www.credoreference.com/entry/conscitech/scientific_methods.

Codenotti, P. (2005, May 5). Scavenger hunt 2005: Item 200. Retrieved from http://people.cs.uchicago.edu/~paoloc/milkshake.pdf.

Kroc, Raymond Albert. (2003). In Capstone Encyclopaedia of Business. Retrieved from http://proxy2.library.illinois.edu/login?url=/login?qurl=http://www.credoreference.com/entry/capstonebus/kroc_raymond_albert.

United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2011, June 28). World Population Prospects, the 2010 Revision. Retrieved from http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Excel-Data/population.htm.