It’s Friday and I’m a scientist, so I thought I’d share another interesting Science Friday podcast I heard recently about the psychology behind wine. It focuses on the ritualistic nature of drinking wine and how it just seems more special than drinking other drinks.
Specifically, there’s more of a process to it, from tasting a bottle at a restaurant before passing it around the table to allowing a red to breathe before drinking it. There’s just something about wine that encourages you to take a little more time to appreciate what you’re drinking.
(I should say that wine is not unique in this anymore, although it arguably has the longest history of this kind of ritualistic treatment of any beverage I know of. My roommate recently introduced me to the concept of “Third Wave coffee,” which has much the same sense of respect for the process of making and imbibing in coffee as is more commonly done with wine.)
Thanks to the additional pomp, it’s possible to take advantage of psychology to trick your guests (and maybe yourself) into believing your wine tastes better than it does. Here are some tips recommended in the Science Friday show.
I’ve been cooking at home more often lately. As I tinker in the kitchen, I’ve been better about remembering to write down great recipes that I come across. Recipes in the trial phase go on cards (or slips of paper if I’m being honest). But the keepers go straight to my Moleskin recipe book.
I love this book. The pages are just the right size for every recipe I’ve put in, plus there’s a conversion table and an expandable pocket in the back to keep loose recipes. Add two bookmarks and stickers (!) to label things and this might just be the coolest recipe book ever.
Of course, a recipe book is only as cool as the recipes in it. One day someone might inherit this thing from me and I want it to be full of delicious recipes, but also full of recipes they might not have tried before. As fate would have it, last week I made a recipe two nights in a row that meets both of those criteria.
I present to you: Nicecream.
That’s right. Liquid nitrogen icecream.
I got a letter last week asking about how my avocado tree is doing. I planted a grocery store avocado pit last July and first posted about its progress in September. Well, Ruby Lee (as the tree has been dubbed) is still going strong.
Since the last time around, she’s got more leaves and I’ve transplanted her into real soil in a pot. Ruby’s about 2 feet tall now; soon I’ll transplant her to a bigger pot.
I first heard this phrasing at the American Geophysics Union Fall Meeting last December. I was reminded of it recently when reading The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman.
Science is not in the business of certainty. Many people consider the purpose of science to be the pursuit of “Truth”. Or an effort to understand how the universe works. Both of these things suggest that there is a deterministic answer to the questions science asks. That’s just not true in most cases.
In reality, certainty is not the goal. Consider the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, for example. It’s a fundamental concept of Quantum Mechanics that you’ve probably heard about. Basically, the more we know about the position of a particle, the less we can know about the momentum (or velocity) of the particle. There’s an inherent uncertainty in the system such that even if we go looking for the answer, we’ll never be able to pin down both the position and the momentum of the particle at the same time. This is a prime example of the inherent role of uncertainty in science.
For the first time in my young life, it’s time to renew my passport. Hard to believe it’s been that long. In one sense, it’s a reminder of how times have changed. 10 years ago wasn’t the first time I travelled outside the U.S., but back in those days you didn’t need anything at all to go from the U.S. to Canada as a kid in the backseat. All the same, it’s fun to think that 10 years ago was the first time I travelled overseas to a new country.
After so many years of safeguarding my passport, it’s weird to be dropping it in the mail and hoping for the best to get a renewal. But I won’t complain about the relatively simple process. I’m realizing for the first time just how expensive passports are, though. There are a lot of reasons why only 46% of Americans have a passport, but the cost is a valid one for many. At $165 for a new passport and $140 for a renewal, I can see why even those Americans living along our borders may not have gotten around to that quick jaunt to Mexico or Canada.
At the very least the process is relatively painless. Renewals can be done through the mail and passport photos are available at a lot of post offices and pharmacies these days. This may be the end of a chapter, but I’m looking forward to beating my current record of 6 international visits per 10 years next time around.
Categories: Antarctica, New Zealand, Norway, Texas, Chile, Virgin Islands, World, Australia
Tags: travel, sight-seeing, fun, adventure, adulthood, youth, passport