Archive for 'Arts and Science'

Adding broccoli powder to coffee—A new taste sensibility

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

“Green, nutrient-rich coffees may be on the horizon after researchers have developed a powder made from imperfect-looking broccoli that would have previously been wasted,” says a press release sent out earlier this year by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. Mary Ann Augustin is the lead researcher on the experiment.

Ashitha Nagesh wrote an essay about this for BBC3, with the headline: “Broccoli coffee: the new health trend nobody asked for—Please don’t make us drink this.”

(Thanks to Vaughn Tan for bringing this to our attention.)

Broccoli and coffee may be an unusual combination, but so was the combination some decades ago of Broccoli and James Bond, which turned out to be appetizing and lucrative for many people.

BONUS: For an even more full-bodied experience, consult the 1990 University of Copenhagen study “Cytochrome P450 IA2 activity in man measured by caffeine metabolism: effect of smoking, broccoli and exercise.”

The Paper Clip: Its Various Uses in Medicine

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

The Paper Clip Nasal Dilator” is one of several studies featured in the article “The Paper Clip in Medicine,” which is one of the articles in the special Medical Surprises issue of the Annals of Improbable Research, which is one of the 143 issues published so far!

Subscribe to the magazine, and a new batch of fresh-cooked improbable research will come your way every two months! A subscription also makes a lovely gift, for certain personality types, we are told.

Recalling Experiments Past – Reciting poetry to a flame to see what happens

Monday, December 10th, 2018

Somewhere round or about the late 1850s, John Tyndall FRS [* see note below] was developing and perfecting his experiments with “Sensitive Flames”. He describes one such experiment in his book ‘Sounds’ (p. 238). In which he reads a passage of poetry from Edmund Spenser’s ‘Belphœbe the Huntress’ to the flame (which he calls The Vowel-flame) and finds it to respond :

“The most marvellous flame hitherto discovered is now before you. It issues from the single orifice of a steatite burner, and reaches a height of 24 inches. The slightest tap on a distant anvil reduces its height to 7 inches….The creaking of my boots puts it in violent commotion, or tearing of a bit of paper, or the rustle of a silk dress, does the same. It is startled by the patter of a raindrop….From a distance of 30 yards I have chirruped to this flame, and caused it to fall and roar. I repeat a passage from Spenser:

Her ivory forehead full of bounty brave,
Like a broad table did itself dispread;
For love his lofty triumphs to engrave,
And write the battles of his great godhead.
All truth and goodness might therein be read,
For there their dwelling was, and when she spake,
Sweet words, like dropping honey she did shed;
And through the pearls and rubies softly brake
A silver sound, which heavenly music seemed to make.

The flame picks out certain sounds from my utterance; it notices some by the slightest nod, to others it bows more distinctly, to some its obeisance is very profound, while to many sounds it turns an entirely deaf ear.”

Tyndall’s book can be read in its entirety here courtesy

* Note: John Tyndall remains the only person in history to have been awarded the ‘Royal Medal’ from the UK’s Royal Society (of which he was a member) and to have turned it down. And in a ‘prickly’ manner no less. See:John Tyndall and the Royal Medal that was never struck’ in Notes and Records – The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science.

[ Research research by Martin Gardiner ]

Many Words about Silent Books

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Silent books are books meant to be shared with people who may not share a language—people who are refugees, people who are young children, people who wonder how the world might seem in places and cultures about which they themselves know nothing.

Drama teacher Rose-Marie Lindfors wrote a pamphlet—that does have words—for the Silent Books project in Sweden, explaining what silent books are, and some ways they can be useful and used. The image you see here is the cover of the English language version of that Swedish pamphlet about books that have no words and so are tied tightly to no one particular language.

Jennifer Farrar talks about how she and other researchers and teachers and students at Glasgow University’s School of Education look at silent books.

The Silent Books Project began as one attempt to deal with a seemingly-unsolvable problem:

In response to the waves of refugees from Africa and the Middle East arriving in the Italian island, Lampedusa, IBBY launched the project “Silent Books, from the world to Lampedusa and back” in 2012. The project involved creating the first library on Lampedusa to be used by local and immigrant children.

The second part required creating a collection of silent books (wordless picture books) that could be understood and enjoyed by children regardless of language. These books were collected from IBBY National Sections, over one hundred books from over twenty countries. This set of books was deposited at the documentation and research archive in Rome (Palazzo della Esposizioni), a set delivered to the library in Lampedusa and a further set was part of a travelling exhibition.

There are, to date, three collections of Silent Books: the Silent Books Collection 2013 (110 books), the Silent Books Collection 2015 (51 books) and the Silent Books Collection 2017 (79 books).


A Parking Pass All Scientists (of any age and profession) Can Envy

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

Sally Shelton says” I don’t care who you are; I got a cooler parking pass than you did today.

Here is that parking pass:

BONUS: Mastodon tusk

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!