Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting to the heart of the sucker and other obscure but somewhat interesting stuff

Over the years but particularly as a youngster, lollipops were a licking good treat offering long term flavor at a reasonable cost. For the record, lemon was a personal favorite with grape coming in a close second. It was also a versatile offering in that it could be picked up and put down numerous times until it slowly disappeared altogether.

Haven't actually given it deep thought or even superficial reflection but obviously a branch of science has pondered the dilemma of the amount of licks it takes to get to the center of a lollipop. This begs (at least in my mind ) the question as to why bother. When a lollipop is gone - it's gone. Right? What's important is the enjoyment is gave the lick-er and the taste thereof. People in the scientific community, however, who enjoy delving into numbers, have studied this mind-boggling enigma.

Researchers at New York University conducted experiments to analyze and test how lollipop solid dissolves. The conclusion reached based on mathematical principals was that it takes approximately 1000 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. Why Tootsie Roll Pop? Who knows. The real question is do sucker-lovers care?

But I digress.

The scientific study involved the creation of custom-making candy spheres and cylinders to test how materials dissolve in a flow. I'm no scientist but let me state for the record that lollipop+tongue+saliva and a warm mouth causes the solid lollipop to slowly dissolve into nothingness. Anyway... Study leader and physicist, Leif Ristroph,  found that the presence of the solid interrupts the flow, forces it to bend and change directions. Wow! Never would have thought the true sense of the word.

Furthermore (how much more excitement can we take, one wonders), tests of both spherical lollipop-candies and Jolly Rancher style cylinders resulted in the same half-sphere shape after a little time in the fluid flow. I mean, go figure and be still my beating heart! But wait - there's more! The researchers deduced from the experiments that a lollipop with a radius of 0.4 inches (1 cm) licked at the equivalent to a flow rate of 1 cm per second would reveal its center in about 1,000 licks. So this makes one wonder what would be the end result of say...a person licked faster or slower? Does speed enter into this mind boggler?

When it all said and done or written, still have to wonder the rationale behind conducting this type of research. All good things come to an end, even lollipops and I'm no sucker.

Crawling on...

Cockroaches Have Personality but do we care?

A small but generally unknown fact that people reading this might not have been aware of or even made a point of investigating, but it appears - wait for it - researchers have made the amazing (at least in my eyes) finding that your ordinary cockroaches have personality! I mean, who would'a thought it!

Once again, one ponders and/or wonders the motivation behind taking time to study the social aspects of cockroach life. For most people.. Okay. For many people, the mere sight of a cockroach is enough to elicit a high pitch noise from the throat followed by the appearance of a means in which to eradicate the source. But I digress.

The findings were part of a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, who ascertained that when cockroaches spend enough time with each other, they tend to flock together. Thinking further (too much time on my hands), one ponders if it's for social reasons or perhaps and more likely, the sharing of information as to the best food offerings. Whatever... it was all part of an experiment in which cockroaches were placed together in an illuminated arena along with a couple of dark shelters constructed from plastic discs. Researchers studied how the various roaches responded to the sudden glare of light, given that they are night freeloaders. Some sought shelter quickly while others stayed out longer. However - now this is telling - when 16 roaches were thrown in the arena together, they came to a consensus as to when and where to seek shelter. Group bug telepathy, perhaps? But I digress...again.

What does this all mean in the big picture? One could deduce that some cockroaches are night crawlers preferring to seek food and goodies in the cover of darkness, while others aren't so fussy and will tolerate light depending on what's accessible. On a personal note, surely there are scientific studies that could help man/.woman-kind than studying cockroaches. Next thing we'll hear about is the creation of sunglasses for cockroaches and other night foragers. For most of us, the only good cockroach are those that can no longer see the light of day if you get my drift.

Sometimes you can't win for losing

The arrival of Groundhog Day in February, is an opportunity for a few lucky and pampered rodents, the most well-known among them being Punxsutawney Phil, to leave their den in the name of science and predict the early or late arrival of Spring. However, given the various geographical locations and weather variations, regional groundhogs located across the country are consulted as local harbingers of Spring.

For whatever reason, some groundhogs don't enjoy the limelight and one Jimmy the Groundhog who has a burrow in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, showed his displeasure by taking a nip out of the ear of then Mayor Jon Freund. Nip or not, Freund proclaimed that an early Spring was on its way. Too bad that Jimmy wasn't politically inclined or he could also have predicted that Freund, who was appointed mayor of Sun Prairie in 2014, would place third in the primary election knocking him out of Sun Prairie's Mayor's race. Seems that sympathy goes only so far among voters.

How was your week?

No comments: