Science Fixes Unhealthy Grilling Problem With Beer
May 23rd, 2014 | by Michael Keller

Breaking news just in from the Txchnologist Memorial Day grilling desk (actually, the study was published in March, but let’s just go with it):

Anyone firing up the grill this weekend for the unofficial start of the backyard cooking season should take note. Meat marinades made with beer significantly lower the amount of cancer-causing byproducts that result from cooking pork with charcoal, food chemists in Spain and Portugal report.

We repeat: pork + beer > pork – beer. Science, 1. Cancer, 0. Thank you, food scientists.

We’re not sure why you’d need to know more than this information, but click through to learn more.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are compounds released from the incomplete burning of wood, charcoal, fossil fuels or any other organic substance. It is a family of compounds comprised of more than 100 chemicals, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and many are released into the atmosphere by forest fires, volcano eruptions and automobile emissions.

They are also present in grilled meats as a result of the cooking process.

Along with multiple health and reproductive problems seen in animal trials, the ATSDR reports: “The Department of Health and Human Services has determined that some PAHs may reasonably be expected to be carcinogens. Some people who have breathed or touched mixtures of PAHs and other chemicals for long periods of time have developed cancer. Some PAHs have caused cancer in laboratory animals when they breathed air containing them (lung cancer), ingested them in food (stomach cancer), or had them applied to their skin (skin cancer).”

Studies have connected eating chargrilled meats with a higher incidence of colorectal cancer.

Now University of Porto and University of Vigo scientists have put their analytical abilities to this pork chop travesty and come up with a solution that many will appreciate.

They tested meat marinated for four hours in pilsner, nonalcoholic pilsner or black beers on PAH formation and compared these results against carcinogen development in meat that was not marinated. They then cooked all the pork to well done (another travesty, but that’s for a different story). The result: Black beer marinades inhibited PAH development by as much as 53 percent compared to meat that wasn’t marinated; nonalcoholic pilsner inhibited PAH formation by 25 percent; and pilsner dropped formation of the harmful compounds by 13 percent.

Black beer “marinade was the most efficient on reduction of PAH formation, providing a proper mitigation strategy,” the authors conclude in their recently published paper in the ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Top Image: So this gentleman appears to be cooking chicken and shrimp. Still, you get the idea. via Shutterstock.

Which Is Better For Your Brain? Beer Or Coffee? You’ll Never Guess.

Filed in Coffee Table Reading by on June 2, 2014 12 Comments

Beer vs Coffee

By now most of us know that we can alter the brain with the consumption of certain beverages. Sometimes the altered state is good and can lead to something great (GENIUS IDEA) and some are bad (POOR CHOICES). So when it comes to beer & coffee, which is better for your brain? First let’s learn a little about the brain.

What happens to your brain when you drink beer?

Have you ever been drinking with your friends and thought, “WOW, I’m really smart and eloquent. beerbrainPeople should really listen to me.”  That would be because the alcohol is having its way with your cerebral cortex.  The cerebral cortex processes information from your senses, processes thoughts, initiates the majority of voluntary muscle movements and has some control over lower-order brain centers. When alcohol hits your cerebral cortex you feel less focused, BUT it frees up your brain from all the distractions that normally keep you in your inhibited box.

What’s the sweet spot? 

This is going to vary between people, but typically 2 drinks will get you into the perfect zone of crazy quick wit, more confidence and of course your idea machine will kick into overdrive.


Beer makes you less worried about the world around you, which frees up your brain to make deeper connections and come up with great ideas.


A couple of beers makes you less focused and decreases your memory, so keep a pen and pad of paper handy if you are using beer to lubricate your idea machine. You don’t want to lose that million dollar concept.

Okay, so beer is good if you are searching for an initial idea. Now you need to get to work and bring that idea to life.

What happens to your brain when you drink coffee?

coffeebrainFeeling tired? That happens when receptors and adenosine bind together. Drowsy time. When caffeine enters the scene, the receptor instead binds with caffeine and you then get more energy. Yippee. Pretty obvious right? But why does this happen?

Caffeine Makes Me Happy But Why?

According to HowStuffWorks, we have something called adenosine that is created in our brains. As it binds to adenosine receptors, it slows down our nerve cell activity, which then causes drowsiness. A nerve cell mistakes caffeine for adenosine. Therefore, caffeine binds with the adenosine receptor, but rather than slowing down the cell’s activity, the nerve cells speed up. While adenosine opens up blood vessels, allowing for more oxygen intake, caffeine constricts these blood vessels. This is why some people who get frequent headaches take medication that has caffeine in it- the caffeine closes the blood vessels and relieves the headache.


Gives you more energy and stronger ability to focus. This is when your idea magic gets put to the test. Did the beer work wonders or just send you on a wild goose chase?


Drinking too much coffee can keep you awake during your nighty night time, but hey, if you are trying to come up with, and build, the next Apple Computers then sleep really isn’t an option is it? Just saying.



Need an idea? Have a couple of beers.

Need to figure out how to get your idea off the ground? Brew that pot of coffee.

Neither of these beverages are great for you in mass quantities, but in moderation great things can happen.

Created with care and awesomeness:

This Water-Based Tractor Beam Could Confine Oil Spills, Control Floating Objects


We may be one step closer to building a real-life tractor beam.

Scientists in Australia have developed a water-based tractor beam, and while it’s not exactly the marvel made famous by “Star Trek,” it’s pretty darn impressive. It can control water flow patterns, maneuver floating objects and could even help confine oil spills.

A tractor beam is a popular term which, I think it captures quite well the basic principal,” lead researcher Dr. Horst Punzmann, an engineer at the Australian National University in Canberra, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “You put an object there and it propagates, it floats backwards to the source of the wave.”

And Punzmann and his team were able to do much more than make an object change course and travel backward.

“We’ve managed to manipulate floating objects to move toward the wave, to move in the direction of the wave or to keep them stationary in the flow,” Punzmann explains in a video released by the university (see above). It shows researchers using the wave-manipulation device to steer a ping-pong ball around a tank.

To manipulate the ball, researchers first determined the size and frequency of the waves required to move it. Then they observed the surface movement produced by the waves.

“We found that above a certain height, these complex three-dimensional waves generate flow patterns on the surface of the water,” Dr. Michael Shats, a professor in the university’s College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, said in a written statement.

Shats added that existing mathematical theories cannot describe the currents produced by the larger waves.

“It’s one of the great unresolved problems, yet anyone in the bathtub can reproduce it,” he said. “We were very surprised no one had described it before.”

While the water-based tractor beam is new, Punzmann’s team is not the first to propose the idea of a working tractor beam. NASA previously awarded scientists a $100,000 grant to investigate particle-moving technology.

And in 2012, researchers in Singapore detailed how a special type of laser, called a Bessel beam, might be used to push an object backward toward the beam’s point of origin. In 2013, a team in Scotland debuted a working prototype capable of moving minuscule particles.

The new research was published in the August 2014 edition of the journal Nature Physics.


An Advance in Tractor-Beam Technology


The term “tractor beam” is thought to have made its first appearance in “Spacehounds of IPC,” a sci-fi novel by Edward E. Smith published in 1947. Smith, whose work has been cited as an influence by the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, George Lucas, and J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of the show “Babylon 5,” worked as the chief chemist for a Michigan flour mill (his specialty was doughnut mixes). His best-known works, the Lensman and Skylark series, are full of imagined technologies that, like the tractor beam, were far beyond the reaches of contemporary science but nevertheless based on seemingly sound principles.

Scientists first began working on making tractor beams a reality in the nineteen-nineties, after the Russian ceramics engineer Eugene Podkletnov reported that certain small objects, when placed above a superconducting disk supported on a rotating magnetic field, lost up to two per cent of their weight. His experiment—the results of which were met with widespread, albeit somewhat knee-jerk, skepticism in the physics community—seemed to indicate that it was possible to neutralize the force of gravity, at least in part. Further experiments followed; in 2001, Podkletnov and the Italian physicist Giovanni Modanese built what they called an impulse gravity generator, a device that emitted a beam of focussed radiation in a “short repulsive force.”

Until recently, no one had managed to move anything bigger than a particle. (There was brief excitement earlier this year, when researchers from Australia and Spain successfully moved a plastic sphere fifty nanometres across—around a thousand times thinner than a human hair—by splitting a beam of light in two and using it to press in on the sphere from each side, like a pair of tweezers.) Even NASA has tried to get in on the action, although their vision seems somewhat lacking when compared with the many tractor-beam scenarios already laid out in science fiction: the team of scientists tasked with the job are supposed to come up with more efficient ways of clearing “orbital debris,” i.e., space garbage. (And they don’t look happy about it.)

Now scientists from the University of Dundee, in Scotland, have created something with a bit more muscle. While most of the documented experiments with tractor-beam technology so far have involved light waves, the team from Dundee used sound waves to manipulate a half-inch triangular prism made of metal and rubber, successfully pulling the target toward the source of the acoustic beam. Half an inch may not sound like much, but it’s a vast improvement on fifty nanometres. The experiment was part of a larger project across four U.K. universities—Bristol, Southampton, Glasgow, and Dundee—and took nine months to complete. The results have been published in Physical Review Letters.

The Dundee tractor beam is not entirely dissimilar from those in “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” in that it draws an object toward it without making physical contact. The device works by taking advantage of an acoustic wave’s natural push effect, called radiation pressure. (Photons also exert radiation pressure, which is part of the reason comet tails always point away from the sun.) What the Dundee team was able to demonstrate was an example of negative radiation pressure, otherwise known as pull. According to Christine Démoré, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Medical Science and Technology, at Dundee, and a co-author of the paper, one of the team’s main reasons for staging the experiment was to show how easily it could be done. “It’s a relatively simple concept, but it’s just obscured by complex math,” she told me. “By shaping a beam of energy so that it goes around an object in some way, hitting it in the back, it’s possible to then pull the object instead of push it.”

To do this, the team used a commercial ultrasound-surgery machine to generate two Bessel beams, a type of acoustic radiation that remains focussed as it travels rather than spreading out. They fired these beams from either side of the target; when the beams hit the sloped sides of the prism, they were deflected up, like cue balls bouncing off the side of a billiards table. The sideways momentum of the beams transferred to the target, pushing it down, toward the energy source.

The immediate applications of the Dundee tractor beam are medical. Démoré and her colleagues hope to improve the efficacy of focussed ultrasound surgery, a noninvasive treatment for tumors that works by heating and destroying unwanted tissue. Another potential application is targeted drug delivery, achieved via tiny capsules in the bloodstream. “What we’ve shown in our tractor-beam experiment is that it may be possible to push, drag, or hold the drug capsules at a specific location in the body, improving the targeting of the released drugs,” Démoré told me. And if Dundee’s device could be made to work on larger objects, it could also prove useful for collecting geological samples from parts of the planet currently impossible to reach—volcanic vents, the deep sea, perhaps even space. “Some of this may be a fair way off,” Démoré said. “But we’ve demonstrated the physics that make it conceivable.”


Climate Records Shattered in 2013