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Latke vs Hamentaschen: The Great Debate 2008

Check links below for videos and documentation of the 2008 debate

See also: The Tech, 3/7/08 "Profs Debate Merits of Tasty Pancakes, Yummy Pastries; No One Wins" (pdf)

The toss of a ramen noodle packet decided the starting team for the 2008 debate of the Latke versus the Hamentashen. A packed audience in MIT's lecture hall 26-100 watched as Team Latke led off with lecturer Peter Dourmashkin of Physics demonstrating the floating and sinking properties of a potato and a latke. Teammates Stephen Van Evera of Political Science and Patrick Winston of EECS joined in. Van Evera, in his presentation entitled "Latkes Rule, Hamentahsne Drool: the case for latkes as American political campaign consultants would make it," incited the audience to chant "USA! USA! Latkes, latkes, USA!". Computer scientist Winston reported of secret research in Stata pointing to the latke. He presented extensive documentation including a computer that had reportedly passed the Turing Test that he engaged in conversation.

Ari Epstein, Terrascope lecturer, led off for Team Hamentashen. Drawing a parallel between the many and creative manifestations of hamentashen with the "constructivist" method of learning that bases the learning experience on students' own interests, Epstein involved the entire audience in a hands-on activity to illustrate his point. Using a systems biology approach, Professor Hazel Sive concluded that the hamentash is an important life form. She cited Scientist H.A. Men, a researcher based at the Stata Center, in her detailed presentation on genetic networks. Closing for Team Hamentashen, Erik Demaine, whose passion includes mathematics and computer science, based his argument on folding and tiling.

Debate moderator Jeremy Wolfe of Brain and Cognitive Sciences requested an audience vote after rebuttals were presented. Hillel director Miriam Rosenblum presented Wolfe with the tabulated results. Upon opening the envelope Wolfe declared a tie, which will necessitate MIT Hillel sponsoring yet another debate in 2009. Wolfe referred to the Latke - Hamentashen Debate as the "intellectual highlight of the MIT year."

 Mascot and team The 2008 Latke Team poses with mascot Matthew Cons '08. Professors from left to right: Stephen Van Evera, Peter Doursmaskin, and Patrick Winston.


Prof Van Evera Mascot and team
Prof. Stephen Van Evera incites the audience to chant in support of the latke. Hamentashen mascot Lindsey Pete '08 poses with team members (left to right) Erik Demaine, Ari Epstein, and Hazel Sive.


The life cycle of the hamentashen as presented by professor of biology Hazel Sive, attributed to the research of H. A. Men.
Latke smiling at her trophy A packed audience in 26-100.




Following closing arguments, moderator Jeremy Wolfe presents the tabulated vote results. line at the buffet table


The latke mascot, Matthew Cons '08 leads the crowd in a cheer:

line at the buffet table

MIT Hillel

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MIT Hillel
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