Clean your bathroom, do your laundry, light a candle, eat some food, or throw a match on your barbeque, and you’ve just used centuries of scientific innovation and eons of evolution. Going home, you may have escaped nature, but you’ve entered a whole new world of science.
Machine learning impacts our everyday lives, whether we realize it or not. It determines what we see while scrolling through Facebook, what we see when we visit a company’s website, and how we interact with brands on the internet. You see ads based on your personal research, the key words used in your searches, and your individual preferences.
As I stood, gazing intently down near my feet, I felt the water flow past my knees. Even with my waders on, I could feel its cool relief in the summer sun. As I looked into the water, I caught a glimpse of a dark, circular shape under the muddy stream bed. I reached down to grab it, and as I pulled, I realized that it was not going to budge. What I thought was a lone bike tire was actually still attached to an entire bike, buried under the muck. I called my teammate, undergraduate researcher Sam Fredrickson, over and we traced the pattern of the metal crossbars and found a place to grip. With our combined effort, we pulled the frame free from under the layers of mud that had accumulated over it.
You’re in the midst of a headache, temples throbbing, and you rush to the drug store for medication only to have your headache intensify because you can’t decide whether you should get Tylenol or its generic form. Does that sound familiar? Ever dreaded having to pick up an expensive prescription and then been shocked to receive a generic version of it at a lower or no co-pay? (What a nice surprise!) Or, are you wondering why sometimes there is no generic alternative of your medicine available? Read on and hopefully, by the end of this article, you have all these questions answered.
Today, you can find hydrogenated butter with canola oil right next to transfat-free margarine. Partially-hydrogenated soybean oil a few aisles down from Omega-3 fatty acids. Your friends tell you that you can eat fat as long as you avoid sugar, while doctors tell you to avoid some fats because they’ll clog your arteries and cause heart disease. Yes, the world of fats is as complex as it is diverse. Continue reading “Say Goodbye to Trans Fats”
It seems like every year there’s a new miracle food. First it was kale, then it was açai bowls, and now kombucha (pronounced come-BOOCH-uh) is the new health craze. You may have heard friends or colleagues touting its benefits: “It prevents cancer!” “It fights off colds!” “It’s the fountain of youth!” Maybe you’ve recently hopped on the kombucha train, or have been drinking it for years, or, if you’re honest, maybe you have absolutely no idea what it is. (It’s a fermented tea drink, in case you were wondering).
Well, you’re in the right place! Let’s learn more about the science behind kombucha. We’ll explore how it is made and how it interacts with our bodies. And spoiler alert: while it’s probably not the fountain of youth, evidence suggests it could be really, really good for us.
“CBD.” Perhaps you’ve seen these letters shining bright, in green neon, on a store window in a seedy part of the city, fronting a shop with glass vials and trinkets lining the shelves and creepy men behind the counter. Or, maybe you took a stroll downtown on a sunny day and walked into CVS or Walgreens, only to see these same letters on small boxes lining the shelves next to the vitamins. You might be wondering what’s going on – how could the same compound be proudly sold in shady hemp shops and mainstream convenience stores at the same time? What is this confounded chemical?Continue reading “The Truth about Cannabidiol (As Far as We Know)”
While there is an exception to every rule, most bartenders recognize that there are really two types of cocktails: sours and bitters. These flavors temper the taste of alcohol, as most people don’t enjoy straight 40% alcohol booze. The first thing bartenders can do to give their drinks flavor – the first step in creating the perfect cocktail – is to add a source of sugar, often in the form of simple syrup (just sugar and water) or vermouth. However, a drink with just booze and sugar would taste cloyingly sweet to most people, so bartenders often add something else to counteract the sweetness, and this is where the two families of drinks now diverge into bitters or sours. Continue reading “Three Ingredients for a Perfect Cocktail”
In the midst of the cocktail revolution, there’s no shortage of online recipes for aspiring home mixologists to shake or stir at the end of the day. However, outside of (often long) lists of (often obscure) ingredients to throw together, there’s little out there to provide an understanding of why we’re combining these ingredients and what makes a good drink. With that in mind, let’s dive into the ideas about why some drinks work, and explore how you can optimize and improve the taste of your beverages. Continue reading “Using Science to Step Up Your Cocktails”
Autumn is officially here, and if you’re anything like me, you’re a little sad that the smell of charcoal and mosquito spray is going away with the summer. I’m also always a little sad knowing that I won’t have the treat of my husband’s latest barbecued meal on my Dixie plate when dinner time rolls around in the winter months. Whether it is the hundreds of pounds of pulled pork he makes for our family’s annual pig roast in Michigan or a simple charred salmon with fresh corn on the back porch, the fish skin delicately charred and greasy as you flake it onto your fork, I will surely miss it. Continue reading “The Science of Grilling vs. Barbecue”
According to a common piece of folklore, you swallowed eight spiders in your sleep last year. Urban legend or not, the very thought of spiders crawling into your mouth while you slumber likely triggers many unpleasant sensations, from mild discomfort to outright repulsion. After all, insects and spiders are gross critters that belong outside in the dirt, not inside our home. And certainly, not inside our mouths while we sleep.
The year was 2008. A year of recessions, Obama, and the last Batman movie to be filmed in Chicago. It was also a year when a mistake of mine led to a loss that still affects me today: that of my beloved wool trousers from Nepal. Continue reading “The Science of Laundry”
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony before Congress, there is growing concern over data privacy and how companies like Facebook handle user information. Where this information ends up, and how it is being used—largely without our direct knowledge—seems limitless.
Editor’s Note: This is Part II of Ben Marcus’ series on the science of sugar. For Part I, click here.
When was the last time you saw a processed food in the grocery store with real sugar in it? Odds are, its’ been a while. Over the past few decades, most food manufacturers have decided to forgo sugar for artificial sweeteners to save costs. Continue reading “What is Corn Syrup, Anyways?”
By pure volume, America has become one of the largest consumers of wine in the world. Twenty years ago, Americans produced about 440 million gallons of wine, and the average person in the US drank about two gallons of it a year. Continue reading “Where Wine Gets its Kick”
“I PURPOSE, in return for the honor you do us by coming to see what are our proceedings here, to bring before you, in the course of these lectures, the Chemical History of a Candle.”Continue reading “How Candles Work”