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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?

Digg this!

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Scott Butner, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Look Up! The Lyrid Meteor Shower Arrives Saturday Night
Scott Butner, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Scott Butner, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There is a thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning, but this weekend, look up and you might see several of them. Between 11:59 p.m. on April 21 and dawn on Sunday, April 22, the Lyrid meteor shower will peak over the Northern Hemisphere. Make some time for the celestial show and you'll see a shooting star streaking across the night sky every few minutes. Here is everything you need to know.

WHAT IS THE LYRID METEOR SHOWER?

Every 415.5 years, the comet Thatcher circles the Sun in a highly eccentric orbit shaped almost like a cat's eye. At its farthest from the Sun, it's billions of miles from Pluto; at its nearest, it swings between the Earth and Mars. (The last time it was near the Earth was in 1861, and it won't be that close again until 2280.) That's quite a journey, and more pressingly, quite a variation in temperature. The closer it gets to the Sun, the more debris it sheds. That debris is what you're seeing when you see a meteor shower: dust-sized particles slamming into the Earth's atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour. In a competition between the two, the Earth is going to win, and "shooting stars" are the result of energy released as the particles are vaporized.

The comet was spotted on April 4, 1861 by A.E. Thatcher, an amateur skywatcher in New York City, earning him kudos from the noted astronomer Sir John Herschel. Clues to the comet's discovery are in its astronomical designation, C/1861 G1. The "C" means it's a long-period comet with an orbit of more than 200 years; "G" stands for the first half of April, and the "1" indicates it was the first comet discovered in that timeframe.

Sightings of the Lyrid meteor shower—named after Lyra, the constellation it appears to originate from—are much older; the first record dates to 7th-century BCE China.

HOW CAN I SEE IT?

Saturday night marks a first quarter Moon (visually half the Moon), which by midnight will have set below the horizon, so it won't wash out the night sky. That's great news—you can expect to see 20 meteors per hour. You're going to need to get away from local light pollution and find truly dark skies, and to completely avoid smartphones, flashlights, car headlights, or dome lights. The goal is to let your eyes adjust totally to the darkness: Find your viewing area, lay out your blanket, lay down, look up, and wait. In an hour, you'll be able to see the night sky with great—and if you've never done this before, surprising—clarity. Don't touch the smartphone or you'll undo all your hard ocular work.

Where is the nearest dark sky to where you live? You can find out on the Dark Site Finder map. And because the shower peaks on a Saturday night, your local astronomy club is very likely going to have an event to celebrate the Lyrids. Looking for a local club? Sky & Telescope has you covered.

WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON UP THERE?

You don't need a telescope to see a meteor shower, but if you bring one, aim it south to find Jupiter. It's the bright, unblinking spot in the sky. With a telescope, you should be able to make out its stripes. Those five stars surrounding it are the constellation Libra. You'll notice also four tiny points of light nearby. Those are the Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. When Galileo discovered those moons in 1610, he was able to prove the Copernican model of heliocentricity: that the Earth goes around the Sun.

THERE'S BAD WEATHER HERE! WHAT DO I DO?

First: Don't panic. The shower peaks on the early morning of the 22nd. But it doesn't end that day. You can try again on the 23rd and 24th, though the numbers of meteors will likely diminish. The Lyrids will be back next year, and the year after, and so on. But if you are eager for another show, on May 6, the Eta Aquariids will be at their strongest. The night sky always delivers.

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Can You 'Hear' These Silent GIFs?
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GIFs are silent—otherwise they wouldn't be GIFs. But some people claim to hear distinct noises accompanying certain clips. Check out the GIF below as an example: Do you hear a boom every time the structure hits the ground? If so, you may belong to the 20 to 30 percent of people who experience "visual-evoked auditory response," also known as vEAR.

Researchers from City University London recently published a paper online on the phenomenon in the journal Cortex, the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reports. For their study, they recruited more than 4000 volunteers and 126 paid participants and showed them 24 five-second video clips. Each clip lacked audio, but when asked how they rated the auditory sensation for each video on a scale of 0 to 5, 20 percent of the paid participants rated at least half the videos a 3 or more. The percentage was even higher for the volunteer group.

You can try out the researchers' survey yourself. It takes about 10 minutes.

The likelihood of visual-evoked auditory response, according to the researchers, directly relates to what the subject is looking at. "Some people hear what they see: Car indicator lights, flashing neon shop signs, and people's movements as they walk may all trigger an auditory sensation," they write in the study.

Images packed with meaning, like two cars colliding, are more likely to trigger the auditory illusion. But even more abstract images can produce the effect if they have high levels of something called "motion energy." Motion energy is what you see in the video above when the structure bounces and the camera shakes. It's why a video of a race car driving straight down a road might have less of an auditory impact than a clip of a flickering abstract pattern.

The researchers categorize vEAR as a type of synesthesia, a brain condition in which people's senses are combined. Those with synesthesia might "see" patterns when music plays or "taste" certain colors. Most synesthesia is rare, affecting just 4 percent of the population, but this new study suggests that "hearing motion synesthesia" is much more prevalent.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

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