6 Real World Food Experiments, Just to See if We Can.

Last week we heard the results of an experiment in double dipping. Prof. Paul L. Dawson of Clemson University wanted to test the conventional wisdom that redipping a chip after you've bitten some off will spread germs in the community dip. Of course, he had state-of-the-art equipment and plenty of students for his experiment, which found up to 10,000 bacteria can be transferred to the dip by each double-dipper. But people who have no such resources do their own experiments every day.

1. Nailing Jelly to a Wall

You've heard the phrase "like nailing jelly to the wall" to describe a difficult task. Graeme Cole decided to find out exactly how difficult it was to nail jelly (or Jello for Americans) to a wall. He chronicled his experiment step-by-step with pictures.

2. Does Toast Always Land Butter Side Down?

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Does toast really tend to fall jelly side down more often than dry side down? The Cockeyed.com Science Club put that old idea to the test! They toasted and buttered two entire loaves of bread and dropped each piece. The first loaf had a 20% "survival" rate, meaning the toast landed butter side up. The second loaf, to which they added honey, jam, or Nutella to each piece of toast, only had a 5% survival rate!

Continue reading for more people who tried it out.

3. Will Pineapple Remove Fingerprints?

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Thomas Scott heard that pineapple will remove your fingerprints. From your fingers. He was inspired to test this theory, and recorded the experience on video. The results showed that not all home experiments are altogether safe. Sometimes it's better to learn from the experience of others.

4. Grilled Cheese Made with an Iron

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Roy and Laura were impressed by the grilled cheese sandwiches made with a steam iron in the movie Benny and Joon, and wondered if the technique could be duplicated by "ordinary folks in an ordinary kitchen." They recreated the scene and documented the process in pictures. Their conclusion? The "wool" setting is best.

5. Frying an Egg in a Computer

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Trubador set up a heat sink inside his computer, and fried an egg, just to show us that it can be done. It took a little longer than using a stove, but the results were edible!

6. Combined Oil Cooling and Deep Frying

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Sc4freak began with one experiment and ended up with something completely different.

I had recently read a few articles on submersion cooling, where you take your computer and dump it into a tub of non-electrically-conductive oil. It seemed to work really well, and was cheap. So I saw it as a type of poor man's water-cooling. I bought a large aluminium oven tray and 9 litres of canola oil.

Yes, he submerged his motherboard in cooking oil. The computer worked just fine. But he was hungry and had used all the cooking oil. The solution? Put the fries in the cooling tray with the motherboard! He heated the oil, cooked the fries, and kept playing Quake to see how long the computer would function.

Have you ever heard some nugget of "conventional wisdom" that you wanted to test in the real world? Or better yet, have you ever actually tried such a test?

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Medicine
Charles Dickens Museum Highlights the Author's Contributions to Science and Medicine

Charles Dickens is celebrated for his verbose prose and memorable opening lines, but lesser known are his contributions to science—particularly the field of medicine.

A new exhibition at London’s Charles Dickens Museum—titled "Charles Dickens: Man of Science"—is showcasing the English author’s scientific side. In several instances, the writer's detailed descriptions of medical conditions predated and sometimes even inspired the discovery of several diseases, The Guardian reports.

In his novel Dombey and Son, the character of Mrs. Skewton was paralyzed on her right side and unable to speak. Dickens was the first person to document this inexplicable condition, and a scientist later discovered that one side of the brain was largely responsible for speech production. "Fat boy" Joe, a character in The Pickwick Papers who snored loudly while sleeping, later lent his namesake to Pickwickian Syndrome, otherwise known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome.

A figurine of Fat Boy Joe
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Dickens also wrote eloquently about the symptoms of tuberculosis and dyslexia, and some of his passages were used to teach diagnosis to students of medicine.

“Dickens is an unbelievably acute observer of human behaviors,” museum curator Frankie Kubicki told The Guardian. “He captures these behaviors so perfectly that his descriptions can be used to build relationships between symptoms and disease.”

Dickens was also chummy with some of the leading scientists of his day, including Michael Faraday, Charles Darwin, and chemist Jane Marcet, and the exhibition showcases some of the writer's correspondence with these notable figures. Beyond medicine, Dickens also contributed to the fields of chemistry, geology, and environmental science.

Less scientifically sound was the author’s affinity for mesmerism, a form of hypnotism introduced in the 1770s as a method of controlling “animal magnetism,” a magnetic fluid which proponents of the practice believed flowed through all people. Dickens studied the methods of mesmerism and was so convinced by his powers that he later wrote, “I have the perfect conviction that I could magnetize a frying-pan.” A playbill of Animal Magnetism, an 1857 production that Dickens starred in, is also part of the exhibit.

A play script from Animal Magnetism
Courtesy of the Charles Dickens Museum

Located at 48-49 Doughty Street in London, the exhibition will be on display until November 11, 2018.

[h/t The Guardian]

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Health
Feeling Down? Lifting Weights Can Lift Your Mood, Too
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There’s plenty of research that suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. In some cases of depression, in fact—particularly less-severe ones—scientists have found that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants, which don’t work for everyone and can come with some annoying side effects. Previous studies have largely concentrated on aerobic exercise, like running, but new research shows that weight lifting can be a useful depression treatment, too.

The study in JAMA Psychiatry, led by sports scientists at the University of Limerick in Ireland, examined the results of 33 previous clinical trials that analyzed a total of 1877 participants. It found that resistance training—lifting weights, using resistance bands, doing push ups, and any other exercises targeted at strengthening muscles rather than increasing heart rate—significantly reduced symptoms of depression.

This held true regardless of how healthy people were overall, how much of the exercises they were assigned to do, or how much stronger they got as a result. While the effect wasn’t as strong in blinded trials—where the assessors don’t know who is in the control group and who isn’t, as is the case in higher-quality studies—it was still notable. According to first author Brett Gordon, these trials showed a medium effect, while others showed a large effect, but both were statistically significant.

The studies in the paper all looked at the effects of these training regimes on people with mild to moderate depression, and the results might not translate to people with severe depression. Unfortunately, many of the studies analyzed didn’t include information on whether or not the patients were taking antidepressants, so the researchers weren’t able to determine what role medications might play in this. However, Gordon tells Mental Floss in an email that “the available evidence supports that [resistance training] may be an effective alternative and/or adjuvant therapy for depressive symptoms that could be prescribed on its own and/or in conjunction with other depression treatments,” like therapy or medication.

There haven’t been a lot of studies yet comparing whether aerobic exercise or resistance training might be better at alleviating depressive symptoms, and future research might tackle that question. Even if one does turn out to be better than the other, though, it seems that just getting to the gym can make a big difference.

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