Posts Tagged ‘Science Blog’

Miracle fruit makes life a little sweeter

// May 5th, 2010 // 10 Comments » // Drugs, How Things Work, Just for Fun, The Realm of Bizzare

A mouthful changes your perception of taste, making everything you eat for an hour afterward taste sweet. Lemons taste like oranges, oranges taste delightful, strawberries are to die for. Sounds like something illicit, a taste trip.

It was about a year ago I first heard of miracle fruit. It’s a berry from West Africa. There’s a chemical inside aptly called miraculin which is responsible for the flavour changing fun. Miraculin is a protein with some carbohydrate chains attached. It might work by changing the structure of taste buds, causing the sweet receptors to be activated by normally sour tasting acids. So if you have some lemon juice, your sweet receptors go “ooh, that’s sweet!” and your brain buys it. It’s a tad dodgy, as large amounts of lemon juice make you feel disgusting. May help with the treatment of scurvy though.

Miraculin and miracle fruit do not taste sweet themselves unlike curculin, a protein which comes from a plant in Malaysia that has similar taste-changing properties. There’s another plant derived class of chemical called gymnemic acids, which has the opposite effect. It’s an anti-sweetener that lasts for 10 minutes, and makes sugar water taste like regular water.

According to the Wiki Gods, a company planned to bring it to the USA as a food sweetener in the 1970’s. The FDA tentatively approved it as “generally regarded as safe” because people had been eating it for so long with no ill effects. But at the last minute, they changed their mind and said it was considered a food additive which needed more stringent testing. The company didn’t have the cashola to fund it, so that was the end of the mass market plan. For now anyway.

Want to go on your own taste trip? You can buy tablets containing dried miracle fruit from the internets. They ship all over the world. Some people like to have miracle fruit parties, where they serve a range of foodstuffs and provide the magic tablet.

It sounds like a drug to me. And drugs are bad, mmkay. A Schooner of Science is not responsible for your crazy shenanigans. But if you’ve tried it, tell me about it and post a comment below.

Equation tells you when to pop the question

// March 1st, 2010 // 14 Comments » // Just for Fun, Recent Research

Okay, so this is just cool. Statisticians from the University of New South Wales have made an equation that tells you the optimum age to propose.

It isn’t the first time people have made love equations…

Love Equation

The difference is this one actually comes up with some answers and uses numbers. In fact it’s pretty complicated. Luckily it’s also incredibly simple to use. Here’s how.

Take the minimum age you’d want to get married and call it p (for me, 21)
Take the maximum age you’d want to get married and call it n (for me, 30. Ideally.)
Subtract p from n (30 – 21) and times by *the magic number* 0.368. I got 3.312.
Add that to your starting age and you’ve got your optimum age.

That means to optimise your chances of bagging a good one, you should NOT propose to anyone before your optimum age. After that age, you should propose to the person who is better than anyone you’ve seen yet. There’s a 37% chance that person will be the best.

For me that’s 24 and 4 months. Oh god. That’s my age right now.

Granted, they made the equation mostly for funzies. So I’m not going to start freaking out and taking the initiative or anything. Still, funzies it definitely is. On the other hand if you’re looking for something lower brow then try this on. Cheesy!

A pdf of the press release and equation is here, along with the tricky maths stuff. This method is called “optimal stopping” is also used in the secretary problem, which is a method you can use to find the best applicant for a job.

Disclaimers to my loved ones who regularly read: SexyMan, this isn’t a hint! Mum, no, there’s nothing I’m not telling you.






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