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Scientists Want to Brew Beer on the Moon

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Humans have cluttered the Moon’s surface with a lot of strange items in the past, but none have been quite so refreshing as this. As The Telegraph reports, a team of scientists from the University of California, San Diego is competing to send its beer-fermenting vessel to Earth's one and only natural satellite.

The experiment is less about brewing up a tasty beverage than it is about studying the effects of microgravity on yeast. This is how it will play out if all goes as planned: A spacecraft will deliver the beer-brewing lunar rover to its destination later this year. The onboard equipment will activate. A valve separating the wort (unfermented beer) in one compartment from the yeast in another will lift so the two components can intermingle. The fermentation and carbonation are supposed to happen simultaneously, which means there will be no excess carbon dioxide to dispose of. After the beer has had time to ferment, the leftover yeast will sink into a separate part of the vessel.

Depending on the success of the final product, scientists will be better prepared to develop yeast-containing foods and pharmaceuticals on the Moon’s surface in the future.

The team will have to beat out several others to put their plan into action. India’s TeamIndus, who are in a competition of their own for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, selected the University of California group to be one of the 25 teams competing for a prime spot on their lunar trip, planned for December 28, 2017.

When TeamIndus reaches the Moon (with or without its boozy cargo), their rover will be tasked with landing successfully, traveling 500 meters, and sending high-definition images and video back to Earth. The first team that’s able to complete this mission by the end of 2017 will receive a $20 million prize from Google. So far five teams have secured approval to launch their spacecraft, and TeamIndus is the first to set a launch date.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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The Brain Chemistry Behind Your Caffeine Boost
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Whether it’s consumed as coffee, candy, or toothpaste, caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. If you’ve ever wondered how a shot of espresso can make your groggy head feel alert and ready for the day, TED-Ed has the answer.

Caffeine works by hijacking receptors in the brain. The stimulant is nearly the same size and shape as adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down neural activity. Adenosine builds up as the day goes on, making us feel more tired as the day progresses. When caffeine enters your system, it falls into the receptors meant to catch adenosine, thus keeping you from feeling as sleepy as you would otherwise. The blocked adenosine receptors also leave room for the mood-boosting compound dopamine to settle into its receptors. Those increased dopamine levels lead to the boost in energy and mood you feel after finishing your morning coffee.

For a closer look at how this process works, check out the video below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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How Do You Pronounce 'LaCroix'?
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LaCroix

For decades, Perrier was the sparkling water of choice for beverage enthusiasts. More recently, an upstart named LaCroix has captured the attention of millennials who don’t much care for Perrier’s elitist stature. Sold in aluminum cans rather than glass bottles and featuring festive, Florida-tinged designs (the parent company, National Beverage, is based in Fort Lauderdale), LaCroix has managed to become a market leader in bubbly water. National Beverage claims it’s the number one brand.

While consumers may enjoy the taste, requesting a LaCroix can be slightly problematic if you don’t know how to pronounce the name. Like the acai berry and quinoa before it, the name can be troublesome to the tongue.

The company instructs that the proper pronunciation is “Lah-croy,” rhyming with “enjoy.”

The name comes from the fact that LaCroix was originally developed in Wisconsin back in 1981. The “La” is for the city of La Crosse, and “Croix” from the St. Croix River.

Uttering “La-crux” might get you some judgmental stares among the bubbly water elite. Affecting a French accent and coughing out “la-kwah” might get you pardoned from the table. Stick with “lah croy." If you need a mnemonic device, you can tell yourself it rhymes with “enjoy.” Or you could just order tap water.

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