Scientists’ lifestyle

Issues related to the every day life of scientists when they are not working

Food chemistry or food culture

As the last remnants of holiday dinners, lunches, high-teas, suppers and celebratory breakfasts are collated and one last binge with myriad mixed flavors indulged, thoughts turn to taste. Specifically flavor and the combinations thereof. We all know that celebrity chefs are gluttons for an odd mix: sweet and sour is nothing to the TV cook who garnishes peppered okra with crème Anglaise washed down with a curried champagne spritzer with a hint of flint. And there are those who wouldn't think of leaving the supermarket without a good selection of cheese and wine. Read more [...]

Looking forward to Christmas

In the West, it's relatively easy to get caught up in the euphoria of Christmas, isn't it? Regardless of one's beliefs in the origins of the Universe and humanity's place in it, countless millions of us succumb to the fake snow and the artificial sentimentality. The twinkling lights, the shops full cotton polymer resin reindeer, the children's (and adult toys), chocolate goodies, the interminable loops of festive songs on the radio, the TV shows you just know were recorded in July but have jolly tinsel and baubles nevertheless. Then there are the parties, the lunchtime "Christmas" drinks, Secret Santa, the bustling shopping centres, the ubiquitous sound of a Jingle Bells sample in every muzak track. Oh isn't it all so wonderful? Read more [...]

Science of sounds

In his latest book, Harnessed, cognitive scientist Mark Changizi, reveals how and why language, speech and music exist, and why they are apparently uniquely human attributes that separate us, as a species, from the rest of life on Earth. A fact that also gives us special responsibility for the Earth, you might say. According to Changizi, the "lower" parts of the brain, the bits that recognise the sounds of nature, the scuffs, cracks and bangs, were hijacked by the "upper" parts of our brain and give us speech as we evolved from our ape-like hominid ancestors. Read more [...]

A chemical Christmas

The Christmas meal in Britain usually centers on turkey, in Denmark roast pork. The French penchant is for goose, while Germans may opt for suckling pig. Regardless of the fleshy focus, a feast of culinary chemistry is at play when you prepare and cook the big meal. However, if you don't get the chemistry right there's more to worry about than dry meat and vegetables when the microbiology is dished up. Read more [...]