The day has finally come when we here at Therefore I Geek can legitimately mix beer and science (without drinking while writing…I do that plenty already). Scientists at White Labs, a California yeast distributor, and a Belgian genetics lab have teamed up to map the genome of different types of brewing yeast. The goal is to eventually breed custom yeast, which would in turn yield custom flavors in beer. While genetic modification has been available for years, most brewers have shied away from modified yeast due to the public movement against GMOs. The most likely use of these different yeast strains will be by craft brewers as large breweries guard their yeast very carefully.
Who knows what interesting flavor and aroma combinations are headed our way in the not-too-distant future. Hurray beer!
I love Star Trek but was always troubled by the fact that most aliens in the show look essentially like humans. First contact and communicating with a new set of aliens was just a matter of learning their language. The closest Star Trek ever got to really adapting to cultural differences was my absolute least favorite episode “Darmok,” in which Picard has to communicate with an alien captain who expresses everything using some epic story. Recently, NASA published a book on just this topic called Archaeology, Anthropology and Interstellar Communication. The book takes the time to discuss all sorts of different problems that might exist when trying to communicate with life forms that could be completely different than us. The book also provides a pretty good history of SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
NASA has pulled the ebook version while they wait for printed versions to come out.
As the world turns…Ok, I’m not going to start talking about soap operas, but I will talk about the mathematics and physics behind the way the Earth actually turns. Science has a great explanation of the experiment that demonstrates how fast the Earth turns. The original experiment in 1851 provided the first quantitative measurements of how fast the rotation actually is. The pendulum continues to swing on a straight line, but its direction changes as the earth rotates. If a person did the pendulum experiment at the North or South Pole for six hours, he would actually find the 90 degree change in direction, as expected. Since the original experiment was done in Paris (which is obviously not at one of the poles) the value in that location, though exactly as expected, is less than it would be if done at the poles.
I love simple experiments like this. Science does not always need to super complex.