funranium: (Default)
Feel constrained by your introductory college biology series and timetable? Why don't you just teach yourself instead.

Their offerings are focused on the life sciences at the moment, but I can see this easily growing. The next question is how to assess proficiency and scale against conventional college credit systems.

Of course, if you're doing it for love of knowledge all of that is irrelevant. Honestly, I would have killed for this as a kid with all the time I spent reading encyclopedia & journal articles for fun.
funranium: (Science Diet)
Cross-posted from Funranium Labs - Coffee Science Recent Developments (3/26/10)

Following a three week countertop exposure of Kona BBotE at room temperature in sealed bottles, the verdict is in: Black Blood of the Earth can survive shipping without prohibitive cold packaging.  I did testing with both air in the headspace of the bottle and with carbon dioxide.  A future test with nitrogen may need to be done.

The first noticed change in flavor of the air headspace happened in the first 24hrs, which I attribute to the difference in mouth feel between cold and hot beverage.  The warm BBotE was similar in flavor to what I am accustomed to when adding one part BBotE to three parts hot water from magical Japanese hot water machine in the breakroom at work.  Flavor was consistent thereafter from 2-10 days.  At 12 days, I noticed a slight tannic note sneaking in.  By 18 days, the flavor had become distinctly "tangy" even when added to hot water.  This stayed consistent thereafter.

The carbon dioxide head space had a similar flavor progression, but off the bat had a minor carbonic bite from the dissolved CO2 in solution.  The "tangy" character was less at the 18 day mark, but still there. 

Interesting to note: at no time did either trial bottle develop mold.  This is a corroboration of the observation while evaporating samples for caffeine content analysis that, even while standing open to fume hood air for three weeks, none of the BBotE samples moldered.

In other interesting news, it is possible that I have identified the chemicals responsible for creating "butt cofffee" flavor.  You know, the horrible taste from burnt, long ignored coffee.  The likely culprits that are known to be present in coffee beans are thiols (well known in chemistry labs for their fishy aroma) and putrescine.  Yes, putrescine as in "the smell of corpses".  Really, putrescine is a decay product from the breakdown of proteins, which is something that happens to all living things, including coffee beans and people (special thanks to the Funranium Labs Staff Mortician for explaining this).  Of course, heat will accelerate this process which is why being a coroner on the east coast during the summer sucks so very, very much.  The same goes for overheated and then ignored coffee.  Just beacuse you stopped heating and walked away doesn't mean the protein breakdown stopped.

At the request of one astute reader, I performed a 48hr BBotE preparaion of Sulawesi beans.  Sulawesi is well known for making a very pleasant smelling, rich, and low acid hot coffee.  Sadly, these characteristics made a somewhat weak BBotE.  Perhaps it needed more time to draw more out of the beans, but the defining description from the test panel was "bland but drinkable".  I may try some longer term preparation another day in the interest of science.  The aroma of the beans themselves is so delightful that I know something wonderful is hiding in them.

I would like to also welcome Test Subject Puppeteer to the ranks of the BBotE cohort.  After approximately 1.5oz each of Kona and Kenya BBotE, in straight and vodka mixed formats, he declared "I feel alert...actually, I feel really competent".  It was as if he had consumed the elixir from Egg Shen's gourd.  He felt kind of invincible.  This may explain the later attempts make his mummy puppet dance on the bar while standing on a folding chair.  Following a near mishap, he decided it more prudent to instead stand on the table and dance with his puppet.  At 2am, he rode his bike from West Hollywood to his home in Koreatown and went to sleep, at his own chosing, not because he was tired.  His remaining BBotE supply is now being rationed for a future night of exceptional productivity.

Test Subject Censorian gives this self-assessment:

"4:00am: drank ~1 oz of batch 031510-1-3. Effects were subtle but noticeable. (I was staying up all night in order to get to work on time.) In 22 minutes I went from groggy zombie hell to efficient focused web surf(land). I had five tabs open, all dedicated to different aspects of the California Aqueduct and Los Angeles Aqueduct intersection. At 6:00am I was comparing two different topographical maps of the area around the St. Francis Dam. By 7:00 am, I felt the effects declining, and opted for a Diet Rock Star, rather than waste BBotE on such menial work. At 7:30am I left, feeling quiet but functional, for my first training day at the U.S. Census Bureau."

In the meantime, keep watching here, the Etsy store, or the Funranium Labs facebook page for the official announcement that Black Blood of the Earth is available for shipping.  It won't be long now...
funranium: (Default)

You'd think I'd have learned by now not to lean against things in my career. I'd like to think I've at least learned to not stick things in my mouth for the geologist flavor test (NOTE: not recommended for arsenic minerals).

Yesterday, I discovered tar is sticky as I tried to asphalt myself with the pit railing.

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funranium: (SCIENCE!)

Cross-posted from Funranium Labs - Coffee Science (Recent Developments 3/7/10)

So, last week I finally got some quantitative analytical work done on the BBotE courtesy of some chemists who demanded to know exactly how much caffeine they were consuming and why it was so tasty.  Thus far, I've only had the qualitative results of "Yup, sure seems to make people awake in small quantities."  We're getting down to brass tacks here and asking how much for the monkey.

First, let's revisit a toxicology concept known a Lethal Dose, or LD.  It is normally quoted like this: "LD 50/60".  This translates as the acute dose that will kill 50% of the exposed unfortunates (see also: the title of my friends page) within 60 days.  This *does not* mean that 50% is all that dose will kill, but it is important to put a milestone for measurement and at some point it is hard to tell if it is the acute dose that killed or something else.  Also, this only works for acute dose; chronic exposure is a lot more difficult to quantify.  In general, acute dose is organ failure, chronic dose is cancer.

For caffeine the LD50 is 192mg/kg of body weight in rat.  It is somewhat concerning to me that the second suggestion from Google when I type in LD50 is "LD50 caffeine".  A normal 7fl.oz. cup of coffee contains between 110-170mg of caffeine depending on the varietal and how much robusta bean they snuck in on you.  The standard toxicological model 70kg man would need to drink in the neighborhood of 90 cups of coffee to achieve LD50.  Keep in mind that some people are "weak rats" and their lethal dose threshold is considerably lower.  Still, that's a lot of coffee.  Just think of all the urination involved with that much fluid...

Okay, now that's out of the way.  For the experimental set up, I made preparations of 24, 48, 72, and 96hr steeped Kona all from the same batch of beans to check time variation in caffeine quantitiy.  From the remaining beans, I also made a small pot of perc coffee and espresso to then test the BBotE against different preparation methodologies.  Sadly, the espresso sample did not make it to the lab for analysis.  5ml of each sample was then placed in a small vial and allowed to evaporate in a fume hood.  Once this was done, the dried residue was brought back up in a solution of methylenechloride preparation for sample loading into the gas chromatography (GC) unit. 

Observations during sample prep:

  1. Before serving, I generally recommend people shake the bottle before pouring.  The 24hr sample was the most "frothy" with decreasing frothiness with time.  This went counter to expectation as I guessed that longer exposure would draw more oils out causing this effect.
  2. The light transmissivity was directly proportional to time in solution.  The longer the sample had been let steep, the more opaque it was.
  3. The evaporation rate was directly proportional to time in solution.  The longer the sample had been let steep, the longer it took to evaporate.  Strangely, the perc coffee sample took the longest to evaporate.
  4. None of the BBotE samples moldered while exposed to open air, though the perc coffee did so within two days.

    Figure 1: Samples in methylene chloride, with color gradient presented

The samples were presented to the GC lab manager, along with a complimentary bottle of BBotE in thanks for letting us abuse her machine. After a brief training run using ethanol blanks, we ran ran the 24hr sample and saw a really nice sharp caffeine peak comes up on the trace.  At this point, I left the lab and handed control of the machine over to the Funranium Labs Staff Chemist.  He ran the 48hr, and saw slightly a lower peak...hmmm.  So then he ran the perc and also saw a lower peak than the 24hr.  With some head scratching, he ran the 96hr... 

Have you ever played with an oscilloscope and turned the gain up too high such that you lost the top of the peak and looked squared off at the top?  Well that's what we had.  It was around this time that the GC lab manager came back in, declared "HOLY CRAP!!!" and ended the run.  She then looked with concern at the trace, then the bottle of BBotE I had given her, and then asked my chemist, "How much of this do I drink to *not* die, because this is awesome."

And thus she was welcomed to the Esoteric Order of Funranium Labs Test Subjects.

I learned this all by my chemist reporting to my office with a hangdog look on his face.  "I've got some bad news and some good news, Phil."

Phil: "Okay, what the bad news?"
Chemist: "There was so much caffeine it oversaturated the detector and probably blew the calibration."
P: "Crap.  What's the good news?"
C (jumping up and down with glee): "There was so much caffeine it oversaturated the detector and probably blew the calibration!"

We'll be trying again next week with a 10000:1 dilution in hopes that we'll get a number that we can use, rather than a borked machine.  I am finding likely that I will need to make an LD50 statement on future bottles of BBotE rather than the imprecise "High Caffeine Content".

funranium: (Default)

It is a thing of unmitigated beauty! BEHOLD Stein #23!

Everywhere possible, I have used brushed aluminum or stainless steel. I am so pleased.

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funranium: (Science Diet)
Funranium Labs field research operative [ profile] leifvignirsson has taken it upon himself to administer samples of his stock of The Black Blood of the Earth (BBotE) to friends and co-workers.  After consuming his aliquot, Test Subject X-Ray Technician then embarked on a road trip to Sacramento.  Somewhere outside of our fair capital, he was pulled over and issued a ticket for speeding.  This, of course, prompts a new disclaimer:

"Funranium Labs accepts no responsibility for the perceived effects of time dilation you may experience while imbibing BBotE or BBotE-based concotions.  Any attempts you make to adjust actions to your BBotE frame of reference including, but not limited to, increased driving speed, watching movies/listening to music at x4 play, and playing video games at inadvisably high difficulty will be regarded as hilarious by Funranium Labs personnel." 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programing.
funranium: (SCIENCE!)
Extreme case test subjects are important for boundary data in any study. Test Subject Philosopher was chosen due to my prior philosopher experiences in college. Anecdotal evidence suggest that philosophers are either teetotalers indulging only in self generation of endorphins and adrenalin or that they subsist on a diet almost exclusively composed of coffee, alcohol, peyote, and tobacco (though not necessarily in that order).

After an administration of approximately 40ml of the Black Blood of the Earth, within 10 minutes the subject reported heightened alertness. Prior to administration, the subject had been exhibiting signs of fatigue (i.e. yawning), possibly boredom, in the previous five hours; this ceased after administration. Eyes appeared to be opened wider although there was no twitching in the extremities at this time.

Reports after my departure suggest that subject began engaging in "risky behaviors". The subject made a curry based on the Black Blood of the Earth (since dubbed "The Eye of Kali")and consumed it, doing further self-administration.

Thank you for your participation in this study, [ profile] zentiger.
funranium: (Default)

Der wissenschaftenstein family, minus the 4.3L Chem Keg Dominator. Behold!

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funranium: (Default)

It began life as a 2L bench top dewar for liquid nitrogen. Now it finds new meaning as it receives a retrofit just in time for Oktoberfest. Oh yes, my beer shall be the coldest and most sciencey.

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funranium: (SCIENCE!)
Do not, under any  circumstances, create the Black Blood of the Earth (BBotE) using a flavored coffee.  I can't speak to the flavor yet, but the environmental consequences are severe.

I just did this with a pound of french vanilla coffee, all at once.  1 pound of coffee + 2L of water = approximately 900mL of BBotE

When you get to the straining step to free the precious black ichor from the grounds, the 50ml first poured through the filter yielded enough oil to completely saturate it.  Of course, the act of pouring also aerosolizes oils as well.  My home now smells like a cathouse where the whores rub themselves with can after can of General Foods "International French Vanilla Cafe" coffee instead of perfume.

I am afraid to bring open flame near the coffee filter once it dries...
funranium: (Boozles)
I apologize at the outset for not having photographic evidence of what follows.  While we all were [ profile] waltzingmatthea 's dancing monkeys, none of us thought of photodocumentation.  I, being as old as I am, can be forgiven for forgetting this MySpace memory maker oversight.  We lacked, as the man in Fear & Loathing says, "TOTAL COVERAGE!!!"

So, I had two unopened copies of Dance Dance Revolution and a dancepad that had never been used.  When this was pointed out in combination with the Broughton Alcohol Archive, Drunk Drunk Revolution was born.  We chose to do a handicapping feedback style drinking game, where the winner takes a shot theoretically making them less capable in the following round.  This, in my circle of friends, is known as "taking a Kenny".  That requires some explanation from a camping trip to Crater Lake, OR (other information about that trip may be found here)...
The Origin of Kennys )

funranium: (Science Diet)
In honor of Egg Shen from Big Trouble in Little China, I have decided to name this ultra-coffee "Black Blood of the Earth" or BBotE for short.

Also I forgot a memorable moment that needs sharing:

[ profile] blark's cup of unadulterated BBotE is now half empty.  He grabs his water bottle and pours the remainder into the cup.  He looks at it and then puts his hand up because He Needs An Adult.  He says with concern, "I added water but it didn't change color."

We all wander over to peak into the dark heart of his mug.  Even diluted to 50% of the original strength, it is still as black, oily, and potentially lethal as a tar pit.

Black Blood of the Earth, indeed.

funranium: (SCIENCE!)
A couple days ago, [ profile] chronovore made a post regarding viennese triple cold brewing.  I looked around my kitchen and decided that I had most of the important labware necessary to conduct this experiment.  This was worthwhile because the process claims to extract 100% of the caffiene with minimal acidity courtesy of using cold water rather than hot.  The directions which I pulled from teh interwubs instructed me to do the following:

1) Get a pound of coffee (I chose Colombian medium roast)
2) Give it a nice medium grind
3) Steep it in 9 cups of cold water for 12-24 hours
4) Strain and serve diluted 3:1 or 4:1 with water or milk

The first important question was "How do I get a coffee filter into my separatory funnels?"  This sticking point and the more important one of pressure cementing of the coffee in the tip of the funnel made preparation difficult.  See below:


The true glory was met by the third iteration of the experiment where I put the grind in a 4L Erlenmeyer flask, covered with a watch glass, and let it sit on the counter for a day.  Batch 3 was by far the most potent.  By my calculations, I produced the equivalent of 145 cups of conventional coffee worth of caffiene in 5.7 cups of volume.  I am terrified by the idea of passing Batch 3 through this entire process two more times to achieve the coffee [ profile] chronovore had.

The results of one pass, undiluted, were remarkable:

Subject 1, [ profile] blark, consumed samples of Batches 1, 2, and 3 showing wakefulness but no other untoward effects.  He declared the coffee to be "tasty".

Subject 2, Astro Mike, who consumed Batch 3, was similarly unphased.

Subject 3, [ profile] _bats_, had several sips of Batch 3 prior to breakfast with two cups of Baker's Square coffee and followed it with the remainder of the Batch 3 mug upon return.  [ profile] _bats_  entered a state of hyperactivity requiring "walkies" outside, rapid speech, and much bouncing from one foot to another prior to complete burnout and crash for a period of an hour.  Full recovery was made within three hours.

Subject 4, [profile] elonwy_h , had 1/4 of a cup of Batch 3 upon arrival at my house, though anectodal evidence suggests she had consumed 3 cups of "Big Island Style" coffee in the morning beforehand.  She exhibited hypervigilance, emitting high pitched yelps and squeaks at the slightest noise or startling movement.  She too showed the nervous energy of [ profile] _bats_ with similar crash, though not as severe.

Subject 5, my father, added his 100mL of Batch 3 to his half empty cup of coffee as a top off.  No noticable effects.  He described the coffee as "good".

Strangley, both [ profile] _bats_ and [profile] elonwy_h reported a sensation of time contraction where four hours of elapsed time seemed to be no more than one hour of subjective time, tops.

I need an NSF grant for further exploration.  There seems to be some kind of sex linked trait going on here.

funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)

Surprised I didn't come across this story sooner.  "MUTANT BLACK MUSHROOMS LIVE IN RADIOACTIVE HELL!!!" would have been a more eye-catching headline.

I would like an explanation of the alternative Krebs Cycle based on melanin rather than chlorophyll.

funranium: (Rad Worker)
As a public service, because eBay and Craigslist managed to annoy me so the other day, I have a selection of Civil Defense radiation detectors for your pleasure.  Let us begin with the Victoreen Model CDV-715 ion chamber:

Yes, I am eagerly waiting for Fallout 3 in October.  Don't judge me.
funranium: (Boozles)
What Awaits You On November 2nd, lucky attendees who imbibe...

A steady stream of science is the only diet worth having.  Sometimes it is good to be the child of a former pet store owner.  This sign was once in my window when I was at UCSC.  I was politely asked to take it down by the Kresge College staff.  Stupid being a physicist at womyn's studies and creative writing emphasis Kresge...

December 2012

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