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Category Archives: Science

Favorite Smells.

The olfactory system is a primitive and complex part of the human brain.  From an evolutionary standpoint, humans seem to have lost a significant portion of this sense comparative to other mammals.  Many mammals sense of smell is millions of times more acute than humans.  Despite this, our amazing olfactory system can distinguish among 10,000 different odors.

It is linked very closely to the sense of taste (remember holding your nose while eating brussel sprouts as a kid?).  As part of the limbic system, it is also tied closely with memory.  Ever notice how certain smells not only bring back a memory but also and emotional state?  I distinctly remember walking into my son’s school and the smell of the hallways instantly transported me to my first grade elementary school…I mean, I felt like I was there.

Just for fun I decided to post some of my favorite smells.  Those things that don’t just smell good, but evoke some kind of emotion as well.

Fresh cut grass

A well stocked spice cabinet

Meat on the grill

Sesame oil – Weird, I know.

The air after a summer rain

Popcorn

A bookstore with really old books.

Well, those are some of mine.  Please feel free to post yours.

Cheers!

TGA

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Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Random Thoughts, Science

 

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Fire and Ice.

Simple, refreshing summer appetizer.  Watermelon and jalapeno peppers.  Dice a quarter to a half of a seedless watermelon (depending on size).  Seed a jalapeno pepper and dice.  The pepper itself is not too hot and carries a nice crisp taste, but if you’d like a little bite then keep some of the seeds.  Also, I like to have latex gloves in my kitchen arsenal for working with peppers.  Nothing worse than getting pepper juice on your fingers then rubbing your eyes (or worse, parts lower…).  Add a sufficient quantity of minced fresh cilantro.  Mix and devour.

Now for a few science points.  First, it’s commonly thought that the heat from a pepper comes from the seeds.  While the seeds do impart some of the heat, it is generally because of their proximity to the “pith” which is the rubbery flesh generally residing on the rib of the pepper which support the seeds.  Capsaicin, the chemical which causes the burning sensation, is made in the glands of the pith and therefore gets onto the seeds.  If you’re not aware, capsaicin is also used as a pain agent for arthritis (kind of like Ben Gay).  When applied to the skin it has been found to deplete substance P—a neurochemical that transmits pain—which desensitizes a person to pain.  Cool huh?

Second, the scale which is used to rate the “hotness” of peppers is called the Scoville Scale.  For reference, bell peppers have a Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) of zero, jalapenos are around 3500-8000 SHU, and the Habanero come in at a whopping 100,000-300,000 SHU.  Again…wear gloves while handling peppers!

Cheers!

The Grilled Atheist

 

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Cooking, Ingredients, Recipes, Science

 

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The Chemistry of Cooking

The Chemistry of Cooking!

This is EXACTLY what I’m talking about!  It’s a great short video featuring Shirley Corriher who is a retired biochemist.  She basically explains a few basic reactions that relate to everyday cooking.  Turn your kitchen into a lab…

Cheers!

The Grilled Atheist

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Cooking, Science

 

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TAM 2012

Just got back from TAM 2012.  Still recovering from fun and jet lag…  Awesome time.  Made great new friends, had good conversation, saw fantastic lectures, ate bacon, and of course bought too many books (a trademark of mine).

If you don’t know what this is about, and you enjoy science, skepticism, magic, etc please check out the links to The Amazing Meeting and the JREF and plan on going next year:

http://www.amazingmeeting.com/TAM2012/

http://www.randi.org/site/

Also, check out the video series on youtube here, and watch the interview with The Grilled Atheist!

Food posts to follow…

Cheers!

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Atheism, Random Thoughts, Science, Skepticism

 

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Molecular Gastronomy Kit

Now THIS is what I’m takin’ about…

You’re telling me I can combine cooking, science, chemistry, and fun???  I am sold.  I have seen specials about this,  one of the best was on Three Sheets with Zane Lamprey.  He goes to a bar in Hamburg where the chemist (sorry, creative bartender) show Zane how to make all of these awesome little jelly-like beads and deserts with pop-rocks.  Check it out HERE (starts at about 12:40).  Holy coolness.  Gots to get me one of those.

Cheers!
The Grilled Atheist

 

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Humanity Leaves the Solar System

I just think that THIS is incredible…Voyager 1 is leaving the Solar System…

To think that this hunk of metal was launched during my lifetime, is now leaving our immediate neighborhood…  is, well, 1) an amazing testament to the ingenuity of the human mind, 2) inspirational on a level that makes me think that anything is possible, 3) awe-inspiring as to the vastness of space and the enormity of the distances involved, and 4) JUST PLAIN FREAKIN’ COOL!

You all know about the Golden Record too I’m sure:

“Both Voyager spacecrafts carry a greeting to any form of life, should that be encountered. The message is carried by a phonograph record – -a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth. The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages.”

Thank you Dr Sagan.  And THIS is a very cool link that explains the image NASA etched on the Golden Record itself.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Science

 

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Eclipse Cufflinks.

No I’m not really a cufflink aficionado…  Just happen to have another cufflink post in close proximity to another one.  In light of the recent “Ring of Fire” Solar Eclipse, I thought I would show off my cool Robert Charles Solar Eclipse links that I got at the Air and Space Museum store in DC…

Cool huh?  Now I just have to actually SEE an eclipse!  Check out this calendar to plan you eclipse viewing.  Looks like the next one will be in New Zealand November 13, 2012.  Hmmm…probably won’t make that one.  But there’s one in the Eastern US November 3, 2013.  Not too far away!  Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Random Thoughts, Science

 
 
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