Fermentation Adds Pleasure to Our Diet

Chemistry, Food
[caption id="attachment_23185" align="alignright" width="480"] Sausages, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut.[/caption] When most people think of fermentation, they think of fermenting fruits rich in sugar, or of potatoes or other starches. In most cases, they are thinking of is alcohol, for drinking! But fermentation is not limited alcoholic beverages. For instance, did you know sauerkraut is fermented cabbage? Or that both coffee and chocolate are made using fermentation? Let's "Define" Fermentation When yeast ferments sugar, sugar breaks apart into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. When yeast is used to bake bread, both the alcohol and the gas cause the bread to rise. But fermentation to produce alcoholic beverages, involves no cooking. The alcohol must "disposed of" in a different way! Now yeast is a budding, single-cell fungus. So fungus can be used…
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Simplifying Mathematics: Introducing Vectors and Vector Addition

Mathematics, Physics
[caption id="attachment_23153" align="alignright" width="480"] Magnetic vector force field[/caption] We all know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide ordinary numbers, even if basic units are attached to them such as gallons, apples, feet, tons, and so forth. 4+3 = 7 5 lbs x 3.2 = 16 lbs These two examples illustrate pure numbers in the first instance, and simple quantities in the second instance. But What About Direction? What if we toss in direction? Imagine a huge square, 5 miles on a side. We have to travel along the perimeter to travel from Point A to Point B, and then on to our destination, Point C (see the image). We thus travel 10 miles to reach Point C. If we could travel "as the crow flies", we would only have…
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Double Tragedy for the Japanese-American Iba Family of California

History, People
I am a chemist. So why do I write about the tragedy befalling a family? It stems from an article I wrote entitled The Tragic Case of the Los Angeles Wannabe Chemist. In that article, I describe a chemical explosion in 1947 that killed 17 and injured more than 150 persons. Alice was not simply killed. Her body was blown to bits. She was assisting the Ohio-born wannabe chemist, Robert M. Magee. Magee not only lied about his higher education credentials, he hadn't even finished high school, according to his mother. Introducing the Iba Family Alice had been hired just one month-and-a-half before the incident, and was given a change of assignment to work alongside Magee. Her education appears to have been limited to high school. How old was she?…
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The Tragic Case of the Los Angeles Wannabe Chemist

Chemistry, Technology
I wrote how I was, in younger years, badly gassed by the carcinogenic, heavy-metal compound chromyl chloride during a home chemistry experiment. Another article I wrote was about how I mistakenly produced, not an organic ester as intended, but a powerful tear gas. In both cases, I aptly demonstrated my lack of knowledge as a wannabe chemist. My "unfortunate" experiments did not prove tragic. Another fellow was not so fortunate... In fact, his experiment cost him – and sixteen others – their lives. Not to mention, those badly injured, and the many surrounding buildings it destroyed. Introducing Wannabe Chemist Bobby Magee Does the name remind you of the Janis Joplin song Me and Bobby Magee? Well our Bobby, or more precisely, Robert M. Magee was the son of James W.…
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Cyclopentadecane the Simplest Catenane Interlocking Ring Structure?

Chemistry, Logic
Notice the links in a gold chain, how they are not connected, but are a series of interlocked rings. There is a word that describes such an unconnected chain: concatenate. From this word, we can gain an understanding of what chemists call a catenane. Now we are probably already familiar with typical multi-ring compounds, such as naphthalene. But naphthalene consists of two hexagonal rings sharing two carbon atoms, and joined together by them. Hence, naphthalene is not a 12-carbon structure, but a 10-carbon structure, C₁₀H₈. Notice the simple illustration of one ring linking to another. This looks simple to achieve, but it is not so easy! We will not discuss the chemistry involved in preparing a catenane, but we will discuss some of the issues. Why Not Simple Ring Closure?…
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Beets for Baby? If So, You Might Want to Read This

Chemistry, Food
When I was a young child, my mom fed me a variety of foods. And that is great! Kids today are asked what they would like to eat, rather than being told this is what we are eating tonight... Well, I was served, among whatever else Mom gave me, beets. Delicious beets. Beets are tender, sweet, and if served as they were served to me, buttery and salty. A really marvelous food. Well, the next day, Mom called the Doctor in a panic... "Doctor," she cried, "my baby has blood in his stool!" The Doctor's Response "What did he eat yesterday?" Well, you get the point. I'd been given beets to eat. So if you choose to feed your little child beets, just remember the next day, the child is…
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Microwave Cooking Hot and Cold Spots – Why?

Food, Technology
You place your dinner of leftovers in a bowl in the microwave oven, loosely cover it, shut the door and set the timer for 6 minutes. You picked that time from experience. When the timer beeps, you pick up the plate with your oven mitt and set it on the table. Then you gingerly remove the covering to avoid a steam burn. You salt and pepper your food, let it set two minutes or so, and begin eating. You taste the first mouthful and it is perfect. However, the second mouthful much hotter! Stirring the food half-way through the cooking process would have helped prevent this. Why the Hot Spots? The oven is a microwave oven. The heat results from absorbed invisible waves, specifically microwave standing waves, produced by a…
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Bakelite: The Chemistry of Art Deco

Chemistry, The Arts
[caption id="attachment_22984" align="alignright" width="480"] 1935 Bugatti[/caption] Styles come, styles go. Art Nouveau came. Art Nouveau went. Next came Art Deco. Nouveau was stylish to the point of ostentation. Deco was simpler, more modern. It reflected a change in Society's perspective. Art Deco surfaced just before the start of the Great War, later renamed World War I. The fires of Art Deco were fanned by the end of the War, and rolled in at full steam with the Roaring Twenties and the age of the Flapper! Art Deco - a Brief Description Art deco was, as its name hints, of French origin. It started before the Great War (WWI) did, approximately the first to second decade of the 20th Century. Art Deco combines geometric designs with bright colors and a spirit…
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Pressure Cookers Cook Hotter and Quicker – The Ideal Gas Law

Chemistry, Food
[caption id="attachment_22958" align="alignright" width="480"] Modern 8.5 quart steel pressure cooker[/caption] Your time is limited. Besides, you are concerned about tenderness and nutrition. So you are in the market for a pressure cooker. But you are just a bit curious about how and why they work. And you are not certain which one to buy. Meats and Vegetables Water ordinarily boils at 212°Fahrenheit (100°Celsius). So food cooked in an open saucepan¹, whether by boiling or steaming, cooks at approximately that temperature. Using a Pressure Cooker In an open saucepan, water boils at atmospheric pressure, something over 14 pounds per square inch. However, when water boils in a pressure cooker, steam pressure is considerably higher. Now steam is essentially gaseous water. This brings to mind our high-school days and the dreaded Ideal…
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Wilson H. Fitzgerald – “Rags to Riches” in Camden NJ

Genealogy, History
Probably the name Wilson Fitzgerald doesn't ring a bell for you. He was an imposing fellow, but it is the time and events in which he was involved that make him interesting. Wilson H. Fitzgerald... 1. Was a member of the Philadelphia Resolution Hose Company. 2. He built dozens of homes in Camden, New Jersey. 3. Pioneered special business practices in Camden, New Jersey. 4. Once traveled the rails West on one of Raymond's Vacation Excursions. 5. Was guilty of assault and battery against a fellow City Council member.¹ 6. Found a large chunk of human flesh on his property 5 miles from an explosion. 7. Found twenty-five or thirty Revolutionary War cannonballs on his property. 8. Helped his son-in-law escape charges for embezzling from the Postal Service. 9. Had…
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