Hows and whys of cultivated and wild yeasts in making beer and spirits. Lots to absorb in this Popular Science piece. Via HotAir.
Hows and whys of cultivated and wild yeasts in making beer and spirits. Lots to absorb in this Popular Science piece. Via HotAir.
Like most evil, it starts out all fun and games.
Number ten is pretty straightforward. It gives a pretty good rundown on how to make ice cream like Dippin’ Dots—sure to appeal to those of us with dot-crazed offspring. Nothing evil about it. (Other than the deadly sin of Sloth, since it advocates just melting down Neapolitan ice cream instead of making your batch from scratch.)
May I add that I think Neapolitan ice cream itself is a sin…?
But the evil start already with number nine. Just a few hints, but it is there. You see a living human being poking at a marshmallow that is floating in a cup of liquid nitrogen. Poking it under the surface! Do not go sticking your bare… anything into containers of liquid nitrogen!
Number eight… I got nothing. Number eight is just flat out cool. Number seven is pretty much… eh, which lowers your defenses for the first real dark bugle call of evil in number six. You think that this is pretty banal stuff.
Number six is the first place where the vigilant viewer may get an idea that maybe this whole video is one giant evil plot. “Chips that bite back”. Evil likes to be sure to be able to say afterwords that you should have known…
Number five is more of an evil digression. Look at the edges of that can. I feel like I’m going to bleed out just looking at that.
Then there is four.
Where in all that’s holy did that come from? Just saying, “maybe you should do this one outside,” is not enough!
I’m not sure saying, “maybe you should do this one with ten foot robot arms,” is enough.
I’m tempted to say that number four wins the award for most ill-advised thing suggested by the internet, ever. But as you’ve noted, we are only at number four…
Numbers three and two are cute tricks, and again you relax, thinking, “Ah! We’re wrapping up with some actually almost doable at a party things!” You would be wrong.
You would be so very, very wrong.
Spoiler alert, if you haven’t watched the video yet. He puts it in his mouth. If you want to blow smoke, just take up cigarettes. They are a million times safer.
Look, I am a huge opponent of America’s modern obsession with safety warnings. When you have too damn many warnings on a product, they will all become meaningless, and you get this effect:
We also have warnings so ridiculous, it makes you feel retarded just by being of the same species as whoever decided it needed to be a warning. When I traveled to England, I saw many things that I enjoyed or that warmed my heart. But I saw nothing that moved me more than that on product after product, and dangerous ledge after rickety bridge, the usual litany of useless warnings were replaced by the simple admonition to “Use Sensible Precautions”.
This pet peeve of mine means I’m usually hostile to having my time wasted with silly admonitions about “Don’t Try This at Home”, especially when included at the start of videos or articles with How To… in the title. But in this case… holy mother of God!
Idea number one is straight up doing shots of liquid nitrogen! There are quite literally no circumstances under which you should try this. None. If you want to commit suicide, sawing at your neck with a dull, rusty knife would be less gruesome or painful than what could happen with that little shot glass of cryo-juice. This segment doesn’t need a warning about not trying at home, it needs a big splash page that says: “Set up a Google Alert for this guy’s name, and ‘accidental death’. You’ll get a hit real soon, promise.”
Really, if you have somehow read all this and not watched the video, please do so. It is really cool. But please, if you get a hold of some liquid nitrogen and try out one or two of the simpler, only marginally lethal tricks shown, do not let that convince you to go the next step down that path to evil. I need the readers.
Man’s body brews beer inside his intestines! Brewer’s yeast had set up residence in his gut. One day he really pigged out on carbs and blew a 0.37 without drinking a drop. [International Journal of Clinical Medicine]
Have a difficult problem to solve? Try vodka! Study shows that light booze consumption improves creativity.
Someone felt they had to pay (probably our) money to figure that out? And for what it’s worth, I’d bet gin does the job better.
OK, boozehounds. Let’s do a science experiment.
Why would the following four beautiful copper home accessories have in common and of interest to us? (Besides being pretty spiffy looking.)
So, four pieces of (carefully, specifically) unrelated copperware, why should you buy them together?
Well, let’s say you filled your fruit bowl with grapes. But you accidentally bought wine grapes, which will make you sick if you eat very many. Being waste-averse, you mash the grapes and make wine. Then you take the fruit bowl and discover that is just exactly the size to fit into the pasta pot! In fact, the bottom of the tube which makes the bowl plugs right into the useless little spigot in the bottom of the bowl. And when you put on the pot’s lid, the hole in the lid goes right over the other end of the bowl’s pipe!
And if you also flipped the watering can, it would fit right onto the top of the fondue pot’s burner. And hey, that leaves the spout at just the right level to fit the other side of the pot lid’s hole from the coil….
You can see where this is going, but don’t tell the Feds. They’d be pretty majorly unhappy if you were to then put ice in the pot, your wine into the watering can, and light the fondue burner.
Of course, the NSA has already noted that you have read this, so some guy is whipping off his dark glasses and calling his contact at the ATF as I speak.
Sorry to get you in trouble like this.
You look like you could use a drink. Perhaps some brandy?
I refuse to be any part of this!
A brief pause in this month’s special all-Tiki activity for some News You Can Use: Alcohol consumption can boost your creativity.
As my blog idol Instapundit says, “Is there nothing it can’t do?”
A new communication in the journal Consciousness and Cognition entitled “Uncorking the Muse: Alcohol Intoxication Facilitates Creative Problem Solving” relates to us the results of a new study at the University of Chicago that in creative problem solving tests, subjects intoxicated to just under the legal limit were more effective is completing the task than those who were sober.
I repeat, Liquid Creativity: Is there nothing booze can’t do?
Also, in the interests of full-disclosure and blowing my own horn, in the seventh grade, when I won a National Championship in creative problem solving, we were not using these performance-enhancing drugs….
H/T to my local FOX/ABC news affiliate: WTTE/WSYX
Here’s an interesting new study about our capacity to handle the effects of drink: You apparently can handle your liquor better in settings where you are used to drinking, than in unfamiliar settings, or even places where you don’t usually drink, says LiveScience in a profile of new research at the University of Birmingham and published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism (via The Daily Mail, via HotAir).
First off, I want to stress that the tolerance for alcohol the researchers were measuring was not related to motor skills or reaction times. I.e. drinking in a familiar bar does not mean that you can drink more and still drive safely home.
The “tolerance” they cite is the ability to resist doing inappropriate things when drunk.
The actual tests were pretty benign. They measured whether subjects could resist selecting inappropriate responses in a battery of questions when drunk. If the subjects had not previously drunk alcohol in a place (even if they had drunk mocktails there), they were twice as likely to let certain inhibitions slip than in a place where they were used to drinking booze.
First off, kudos to Drs. Birak, Higgs, and Terry for coming up with the brilliant excuse for using University funds to take a bunch of undergrads on a series of pub crawls and see where they do the most stupid and embarrassing things….
Of course, they actually did no such thing, but it would have been awesome had they done so, yes? It also would have probably yielded more practical results, though less reproducible, alas. I just wrote the previous paragraph because it makes good copy. The results were actually quite limited, and not all the inhibition tests they performed produced results that support the effect.
That ends my reportage of the actual science, and let us begin the broad, sweeping generalizations of what we can take away from this if we accept the study’s conclusions in a general sense right off the bat.
Scientists hate it when the public just goes ahead and accepts a study right off and starts taking action on it because:
- The results are initial, unsupported by other studies, and incompletely understood.
- If everyone goes ahead and acts, there will be no need to fund additional studies on the subject.
First off, what might be the mechanism that accounts for this? I have read only the abstract, not the entire paper, but they seem to be leaning toward some sort of Pavlovian, behavioralist mechanism. My drinking instincts and experience aren’t really buying that. I have two, not necessarily competing theories.
The first is motivation. We tend to like places where we drink regularly. Sure, in this case, the drinkers didn’t choose to drink in a certain location repeatedly, but so what? I happen to really like the lobby bar of the Atlanta Airport Westin Hotel. Why on Earth? Because I’ve had a lot of drinks there over the years with family, friends, business rivals, and enemies. (In my family, the Venn diagram of those sets would be pretty much a single circle.) Many times, they were good times. But the location was chosen for me and the only reason I like it is because of the familiarity. Nevertheless, if I were to do something, um, uninhibited there, I might not be able to go back, either due to embarrassment or due to being barred. I wouldn’t like that, so I have added motivation in a familiar setting to behave myself. It could be as simple that a certain amount of booze disinhibits a drinker by, say, 30%. But if the familiarity of the setting increases his natural inhibitions by 30% to begin with….
I’ll employ a kind of techie metaphor for the second, even better idea I have. Let’s say that the brain has a certain (if prodigious) amount of bandwidth. We use that bandwidth all the time for lots of functions, such as look for threats, scan for hot members of the opposite (or indeed, our own) sex, figure what and how to eat, talk, keep in mind how to get to the toilet, talk to hot members of the opposite (or indeed, our own) sex, argue with the bartender about why he felt impelled to shake our damn Manhattan, figure out how to get our hands on the body of some selected hot member of the opposite (or indeed, our own) sex, and above all, for the purposes of this discussion, resist the temptation to actually just place our grubby mitts on said HMotO(oIOO)S, or even just blurt our intention or desire to do same.
Drinking narrows your bandwidth, full stop. Size, experience, etc. may reduce the narrowing, but all booze narrows everyone’s bandwidth.
However, in a familiar location, you know where the can is. You know who is likely to be a threat, or know there is likely to be none at all. You know that the bartender knows he better not shake your damn Manhattan.
You might think that you also would be comfortable being yourself and thus be less inhibited. But see Theory One above.
Instead, in most situations, I suggest that the brain saves on bandwidth by not worrying about such threats as bad guys, unknown bathrooms, and shaken Manhattans. It uses the bandwidth saved to try to maintain full function in its remaining tasks, such as keeping you from making an ass of yourself with that blonde paralegal.
successfully making an ass of yourself with her!
Unless you are married.
In which case you’d best be using all the inhibitions you got, Mister!
Of course, dear!
It doesn’t, Norm. Science has no explanation for Cliffy. It does, however, pretty much explain you.
Few drinkers are unfamiliar with the sensation of looking down into one’s glass and wondering, “Where the heck did my drink go?” Bishop Blackie Ryan, the mystery-solving cleric created by Andrew Greeley, constantly complains that the leprechaun has gotten at his Irish whiskey.
Interestingly, the distilling industry also experiences this as well, at least those segments that age their product. As liquor sits in wooden barrels, while it is taking flavor from the wood, that same porous material is letting the alcohol in the casks evaporate. The amount lost is about roughly 2% per year. This can add up to quite a bit of ethanol, as we’ll see in a moment. The industry term for this missing booze is The Angel’s Share, a wonderfully lyrical term, if you ask me.
While most people note the amount of effect the Angel’s Share has on distillers’ bottom lines, a recent article in WIRED details how we are discovering that that errant booze affects the neighborhood as well. In The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus, Wired tells us two things:
In Lakeshore, Ontario are the warehouses which hold vast arrays of barrels of Canadian Club, aging away. Humans may not get drunk by breathing the air in the neighborhood, but something does. Read the article for a fascinating story of these microscopic, black, barrel-shaped “angels”.
I wonder, now that we know what earthly angles look like, think you’ll see a move to change stained glass windows?
No, that is not one of the rather over the top hats from the royal wedding this weekend. It is instead the work of mulitmedia artist Marcos Lutyens. And what you are seeing in the picture is what that cocktail tastes like to her. More accurately, (I think) it reflects changes in her brain activity as measured by the headset she is wearing, when she sips a highly flavored cocktail.
I think the results are gorgeous. If you are in England, you could see a large, and I hope interactive, exhibit of this work at the FutureEverything festival in Manchester in mid-May. Absolut is sponsoring the exhibit, which I heartily approve of, since a future without booze is no future for me.
So if any of my UK readers attend this thing, I have some questions. First, there are huge variations in the pictures produced by this technique. (Excellent slideshow here.) What changes the image? Is it dependent on the flavors of the drink, the individual drinker, or existing level of intoxication? Are effects duplicateable? And when can I buy the cocktail book using these images instead of drink pix for illustrations?
Via the Twitter feed of Drunken Scientists, where I get all my science news, comes a story that merely confirms what I have believed for years: There is just nothing that cocktails cannot do!
After all, we know by now that drinks are good for the heart. Drinking causes weight loss. Red wine can improve your digestion. Drinking reduces the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes. Drinks may help stave off Alzheimer’s. Drinking and monogamy go together, too. Drinking can even improve the chances of public employees going above and beyond the call of duty. (This apparently does no apply to New York City and environs during snow emergencies….)
But this, my friends, is some serious stuff! Dr. Yoshihiko Takano in Japan believes he has discovered that alcohol can turn a certain substance, an alloy of iron and tellurium, into a room temperature superconductor. Not only that, but wine and spirits actually do a better job of this than pure alcohol. Best of all, he got the idea from a cocktail party he had!
Not only have cocktails given us room-temperature superconductors, they even gave us the idea of how to make said superconductors.
As I said, this is in fact serious stuff. If you aren’t familiar with the things practical room-temperature superconductors will one day let us do, it’s amazing stuff. Superconductors could give us vastly more efficient power generation. Perhaps more importantly, they could make power transmission lossless over great distances. This could transform wind power and certain solar generation avenues into actual, practical power solutions, instead of the pork- and graft-addled technologies they are today, absent such transmission capacity. And the things you can do with magnets and superconductors are straight out of science fiction…
I don’t know if this actually is going to pan out or not. I hope it does. But we all should raise a glass to Dr. Takano for advancing the cause of science via the Ace Of Spades Lifestyle™!
As a final word, don’t take my light-hearted list of the health benefits of booze too heartily. I left the word “moderation” out, and it is (as with most things) the difference between Good For You and Bad For You. If you’d like to see the sheer volume of research that indicates alcohol helps our lives, try this gigantic web page. Bookmark the URL and send it to all your neo-prohibitionist acquaintances.