I made some raisin buns the other day, and I swear there’s a connection to science coming.
The recipe called for, among other things, 2 eggs, 3½ cups of flour, ½ cup of brown sugar, and 2¼ tsp of yeast. Two and a quarter teaspoons – that’s quite precise, isn’t it? One can imagine a test kitchen industriously experimenting, through dozens and dozens of batches, to nail down just the right quantity of yeast for this recipe. 2 tsp isn’t quite enough; 2½ is definitely too much. But if you bake a lot, you might smell a (metaphorical) rat. Continue reading
Image: This is what 1300 g (2.8 lb) of basil looks like.
Yesterday (as I write) I bought some basil at my local farmer’s market. Quite a lot of basil, actually – almost 3 pounds of it – because it was my annual pesto-making day*. My favourite vendor sells basil by the stem (at 50¢ each), and I started pulling stems from a large tub. Some stems were quite small, and some were huge, with at least a five-fold difference in size between smallest and largest (and no, I didn’t get to just pick out the huge ones). So how many stems did I need? Or to put it the other way around, given that I bought 49 stems, how many batches of pesto would I be making, and how many cups of walnuts would I need?
My undergrad students – like a lot of biology students – don’t like statistics. Continue reading
Photo (and chutney) by Stephen Heard.
Jim Croce would like to save time in a bottle, but I can save time in a jar. I mentioned recently that I make a mean mango chutney (with a connection, and I swear there was one, to public belief in vaccinations and global warming). Not long before that, I’d posted about the Plant Gastrodiversity Game. Putting the two ideas together made me think about the evolutionary history in every jar in my chutney. It’s easy to calculate such things these days, and I’m a world-class nerd, so of course I didn’t waste much time getting started. I’ll share my chutney recipe, and some things I learned from my analysis. Continue reading
Photo: Mangosteens (Garcinia mangostana, Clusiaceae) CC0 via Pixabay.com
The diversity of life on Earth is astonishing – which for an ecologist, is both exciting (new species everywhere I turn!) and frustrating (how can I possibly know all these species?). The temptation to have some fun with this is irresistible, and a while back my wife and I set up a nerdstravaganza game that let us learn a little more about plant diversity. In brief: we (and some friends) gave ourselves two weeks to eat members of as many plant families as possible. If you think that sounds fun, well, you’re right (and also, you’re just about as big a science nerd as me).
So in case you’d like to try your hand at it, here are the rules. Continue reading