The #Foodchem Carnival recap
Nov20

The #Foodchem Carnival recap

Many thanks to all who contributed delicious posts to the #foodchem carnival. Enjoy the bountiful, diverse feast the chemblogosphere has to offer.   Sweet Stuff (because there is nothing wrong with starting with dessert) Newscripts: Easy As Pie Crust – #foodchem carnival: Beth Halford shares her family’s oil-based crust recipe. The Finch & Pea: Pumpkin Pie: More pie! The science behind a good pie crust. (I’m eager to see a crust-off between Ben and Beth.) Chemistry World: Food chemistry carnival – the sweet, gooey world of caramel: Phillip Broadwith’s indignation of the Great British Bake Off’s bad sugar science. Update, 11/26: Elemental: The Chemical Cook: Deborah Blum may have been late to the carnival, but she brought some sweet words and the Derby pie. Thanks, Deb!   Seasonings & Condiments Just Like Cooking: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and...Moringa?: Injecting a little Simon & Garfunkel into this carnival, See Arr Oh distills the healing powers of parsley, saaaaage, rosemary, and thyyyyyyyme, plus newcomer herb, moringa. The Stoichiometric Equivalent: #Foodchem Carnival: I am most thankful for table salt this Thanksgiving: The science of salt preservation and flavoring. It's the Rheo Thing: Is Ketchup Really Thixotropic? And Does it Matter?: The rheology of ketchup. Why is it slow to flow in the bottle until it suddenly ends up all over your burger and fries?   Smorgasbord Sciencegeist: #FoodChem Thanksgiving Blogging Carnival: Keeping the faith in the glory of starch, which is, to many of us, the holiest of Thanksgiving chemicals. Organic Chemistry Tips and Techniques: The Mighty Egg-White: Need to filter fine particles from solvated compounds? Try an egg white. Bonus: Find out how to determine an egg's age. Lost in Scientia: The intersection of food and fuel chemistry – #foodchem carnival: Find out how much biodiesel can be produced from a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Mmm, doughnuts… Sciencegeist: Tryptophan and Sleepiness: Bonus quickie contribution from Sciencegeist. Couldn't have a Thanksgiving-timed foodchem carnival without mentioning tryptophan, could we?   Spirits The Haystack: #FoodChem Carnival: A bit o’ science on your Thanksgiving tippling: If you're gonna be late to the carnival, at least bring the booze. Lisa Jarvis brings the science of champagne.   Sentimental The Second Criterion: Growing up with Kitchen Chemistry (and my abiding love for Harold McGee): A lovely homage to "On Food And Cooking" Grand CENtral: Should #foodchem lovers work as food chemists? Maybe not: Guest poster Coulombic Explosion talks about growing up with and making career choices based on a love of food and chemistry. Chemjobber: #foodchem: Secret ingredients, secret recipes: CJ discovers that perhaps the secret ingredient to carefully-guarded recipes is simply the comfort they provide.   Food of the Future Cleantech Chemistry:...

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#FoodChem Carnival: A bit o’ science on your Thanksgiving tippling
Nov16

#FoodChem Carnival: A bit o’ science on your Thanksgiving tippling

In my family, the first thing that happens when you walk in the door to my Aunt Kim’s house on Thanksgiving is you find yourself on the receiving end of the world’s best hug. The second thing that happens is a glass of champagne is thrust into your hand. So when I sat down to consider how to contribute to this week’s Thanksgiving-inspired #foodchem carnival, the science of champagne seemed a natural fit. And since some might consider champagne medicinal, it can squeeze by at the Haystack, right? Anything you want to know about the science of champagne can pretty much be learned from Gérard Liger-Belair, a professor of chemical physics at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne. Liger-Belair has possibly the best job in existence: he spends his days trying to decipher the chemistry and physics of champagne. We covered some of his tips for champagne serving here (most practical for every day imbibing: don’t use soap to wash your flutes. Instead, rinse with hot water and wipe with a towel. The cellulose fibers left behind from your swipe promote effervescence.). More recently, Liger-Belair has come out with evidence that size does matter—bottle size, that is. The smaller the bottle, the lower the concentration of dissolved CO2 in each successive glass poured. The message here: forget those wimpy splits, and go magnum. But if you do have a smaller bottle (okay, or a normal 750mL bottle), you can maintain some of the effervescence by keeping nice and frosty. Meanwhile, if you want to enjoy that nose-tickling fizz at the top of your glass for longer, this study suggests you should pick a flute over a coupe. This family prefers a flute, anyway. Less spillage. So there you have it. Happy Turkey Day, all! For more on the science of champagne, check out: What’s that Stuff: Champagne: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/whatstuff/stuff/8201champagne.html Unraveling different chemical fingerprints between a champagne wine and its aerosols: http://www.pnas.org/content/106/39/16545 Uncorked: The Science of Champagne:...

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Should #foodchem lovers work as food chemists? Maybe not.
Nov16

Should #foodchem lovers work as food chemists? Maybe not.

I knew mixing food and chemistry would draw some newbies out of the woodwork! Everyone give a warm welcome to guest poster Coulombic Explosion. I'm not a blogger, but I have been an observer of those chemists active in the chemblogotwittersphere. I nearly succumbed to the excellent recent #chemcoach carnival initiated by SeeArrOh, but this carnival has finally surpassed my activation barrier. As a result, I made it a point to at least establish an account on Twitter prior to submitting my humble entry. Don't expect frequent tweets from me, but if you see CoulombicExplosion@CoulombicExp - that's me. As it turns out, chemistry and food have been associated in my mind for most of my life, going all the way back to early childhood (say 6-8 years old) when I would visit my grandmother. During those visits, one of my favorite activities was playing "magic potions". This game consisted of playing with various kitchen chemicals: water, food coloring, flour, sugar, salt, and most exciting, Alka-Seltzer tablets. It was great fun for me to mix and pour solutions, make brightly colored pastes, and watch the Alka-Seltzer fizz away in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Years later, when chemistry-oriented science classes started to become available in middle school, I seemed to have a natural aptitude for the subject. I've always thought this may have been (partially) the result of some kind of genetic predisposition from my grandmother, who worked in a hospital as a lab technician. Nurture likely complemented nature in this case, through the early-childhood hands-on experience with chemistry of the "magic potions" game. Although I certainly had no understanding or appreciation for any of the chemistry going on in these kitchen concoctions (Absorbance and Beer's law with food coloring, ionic bonds and solubility rules for sodium salts, citric acid and sodium bicarbonate reacting to liberate carbon dioxide, to name a few), I think that engagement fueled me with enthusiasm to seek such understanding and appreciation. When I started my job search upon finishing my dissertation, I strongly considered a career in food chemistry, in part because I had begun to grow increasing interest in cooking. Around this time, my university was visited by Prof. Charles Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Chair of Brewing Science at UC-Davis. During a small group session, I asked him why, despite his obvious passion for brewing science, that he was not a home-brewer? To paraphrase his response, ballplayers don't go home and play ball; brain surgeons don't go home and practice on his/her spouse. He made me realize that perhaps it was best to keep my interest for cooking as a hobby and not to...

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#Foodchem carnival: mid-point(ish) round-up
Nov15

#Foodchem carnival: mid-point(ish) round-up

We're a little more than halfway through the Food Chemistry Carnival, which ends this Sunday, 11/18. There's been a smorgasbord of offerings already, I thought it would be a good time to do a quick round-up of posts so far: Cleantech Chemistry: Soon You’ll be Thankful for #foodchem Microbes: Microbiologists and chemists are ready to come to the rescue of cooks (and food makers) who love spices but don’t want to break the bank. Newscripts: Easy As Pie Crust – #foodchem carnival: Beth Halford shares her family's oil-based crust recipe. Just Another Electron Pusher: Visions of a fictional #foodchem future: Glen give us lots of video goodness from movies that imagined food of the future. Chemistry World: Food chemistry carnival – the sweet, gooey world of caramel: Philip Ball's Phillip Broadwith's indignation of the Great British Bake Off's bad sugar science. The Finch & Pea: Pumpkin Pie: More pie! The science behind a good pie crust. (I'm eager to see a crust-off between Ben and Beth.) Chemjobber: #foodchem: Secret ingredients, secret recipes: CJ discovers that perhaps the secret ingredient to carefully-guarded recipes is simply the comfort they provide. The Stoichiometric Equivalent: #Foodchem Carnival: I am most thankful for table salt this Thanksgiving: The science of salt preservation and flavoring. Lost in Scientia: The intersection of food and fuel chemistry – #foodchem carnival: Find out how much biodiesel can be produced from a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Mmm, doughnuts... There's still time to contribute, chemistry & food lovers (yeah, I'm looking at you, Sciencegeist and Deborah...

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Friday chemical safety round up
Nov09

Friday chemical safety round up

First up, CENtral sSience is hosting a food science blog carnival next week! If you've got a favorite topic you'd like to write about out and no blog to put it on, we'll be happy to host. See linked post for details. Now back to our regularly-scheduled (if somewhat irregularly written) chemical health and safety news from the past couple of weeks: Mythbusters is breaking out hazmat suits to explore some "Breaking Bad" chemistry, in particular the first-season scene involving use of hydrofluoric acid to dissolve a body. The episode will air in the spring. Redditors discussed lab accidents. The first response, to quote Derek Lowe, is like "the second law of thermodynamics come to take vengeance, with the entropy increasing as you go along." Several chemistry bloggers were not impressed by Gizmodo's "How to Use Basic Chemistry to Scare the Hell Out of Your Neighbours" Chemjobber posted about the PUREX process to extract uranium and plutonium from spent nuclear fuel: "There's something amusing about a situation in which rocket fuel gets added to nuclear waste to generate a 'relatively stable' explosive waste product." Joe Schwarcz, director of the Office for Science & Society at Canada's McGill University, wrote about the Sangji case in the Montreal Gazette: "many chemists realize that neither UCLA nor Harran are unique examples of negligence in terms of safety, and recognize that their own closets may harbour skeletons." UC posted a video of its "Enhancing a Culture of Safety Through the Development of a Chemical Safety Committee" webinar. Next up: "Wear Your Lab Coat! Changes in UCLA's PPE Policy and How Researchers Responded," Tuesday, Nov. 13, noon Pacific/3 p.m. Eastern. The chemistry department at England's Keele University is embarking on a project dubbed CLEARS for Chemistry Laboratory Engagement and Assessment of Risk and Safety: We want to investigate ways in which students learn to think about laboratory safety. We want answers to the eternal question of why disposable nitrile gloves bestow the students with superpowers able to resist all chemicals. We want to figure out why half the class wants to put the aqueous sodium chloride in the halogenated waste. We want to investigate the misconceptions, the chemistry misconceptions, that underpin some of the frequent safety mistakes we see in the lab. We want a safety system that encourages students to think and evaluate rather than demanding simple compliance with rules but we can’t have that until we have a better idea of what on earth goes on in the minds of students when they are lurking in the laboratory. In the November issue of AIChE's Process Safety Beacon, a challenge: Can you find...

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