« September 20, 2021 | Main | September 22, 2021 »

September 21, 2021

The Secrets of the Coke and Mentos Fountain


From CompoundChem: "When Mentos are added to a bottle of Coke, their surface acts as a nucleation site, allowing carbon dioxide bubbles to form rapidly, resulting in the

'fountain effect.'"

September 21, 2021 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Going metric. Not. Or, the empire strikes back.

Pic only - UK meters to feet copy

[A road sign in South Shropshire, England, that Tony Bennett changed so that it would display feet and not meters.]

Anyone but me old enough to remember the 1975 U.S. Metric Conversion Act which went over like a lead balloon?

Predictions then that the country would be left behind and implode didn't quite come to pass.

Now this, nearly half a century later, from last Friday's New York Times:

Britain Signals Intent to Revert to the Imperial System

The government announced plans to allow shops to sell produce in pounds and ounces, rather than using the metric system, as part of an effort to 'capitalize on new Brexit freedoms.'

Tony Bennett, a member of Active Resistance to Metrication, a small group that has for years been pushing for England to return to its old weights and measurements, said he was celebrating the development.

Mr. Bennett said the campaign to leave the European Union and the campaign to revert to imperial measurements had to do with preserving what he saw as the gradual erosion of British culture and tradition.

"The system of weights and measures is integral to our daily life and also to our written culture, our language," he said, citing expressions like "an inch is as good as a mile," and "inching forward."

He estimates that he and his group have placed stickers over thousands of signs in public parks and on roads that use the metric system in England over the last two decades.

September 21, 2021 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Exposed: underside of an iceberg

Screen Shot 2021-09-18 at 12.54.50 PM

September 21, 2021 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

BehindTheMedspeak: Top 4 foods causing choking death in children


From Mary Roach's superb March 25, 2013 New York Times Science section front page story :

Round foods are particularly treacherous because they match the shape of the trachea.

If a grape goes down the wrong way, it blocks the tube so completely that no breath can be drawn around it.

Hot dogs, grapes, and round candies take [three out of the top four slots*] in a list of killer foods published in the July 2008 issue of The International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology (IJPO — itself a calamitous mouthful).

A candy called Lychee Mini Fruity Gels [top] has killed enough times for the Food and Drug Administration to have banned its import.

*Meat other than hot dogs was #2 — right behind #1 hot dogs (see graphic below from the IJPO paper cited above).


Below, the abstract of the IJPO paper.


Fatal and non-fatal food injuries among children (aged 0–14 years)


To identify and characterize food items with high risk of airway obstruction in children younger than 15 years.


This retrospective study collected injury data from 1989 to 1998 for 26 pediatric hospitals in the United States and Canada. Aspiration, choking, ingestion, and insertion injuries due to food items were analyzed. The data included 1429 infants and children. Results were compared with fatality data published by the American Association of Pediatrics in 1984.


The 10 food objects with the highest frequency for both injuries and fatalities were identified.


Peanuts caused the highest frequency of injury, and hot dogs were most often associated with fatal outcomes.


The severity of respiratory distress prior to hospital evaluation varied for different foods. Age younger than 3 years was the highest-risk factor. Key characteristics such as bite size, shape, and texture were analyzed and found to demonstrate relationships with severity of clinical outcomes.


Children younger than 3 years remain at greatest risk of food injury and death. We found that hard, round foods with high elasticity or lubricity properties, or both, pose a significant level of risk. Consideration of the key characteristics of the most hazardous foods may greatly decrease airway obstruction injuries. Food safety education can help pediatricians and parents select, process, and supervise appropriate foods for children younger than 3 years to make them safer for this highest-risk population.


Note: this post originally appeared on March 28, 2013.

September 21, 2021 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The world's most beautiful hair brush

Screen Shot 2021-09-18 at 11.07.26 AM

Above, the title of Marlowe Granados's ode to the Mason Pearson hair brush, an object that is still hand-finished in the U.K. using a process created in 1885.

She wrote:

A few years ago, after a couple of conversations with hairdressers, they all revealed that the one brush in their arsenal was called the Mason Pearson.

It was some kind of trade secret: Its lore was that it would smooth and shine your hair, while spreading the natural oils from root to end.

This kept your hair fresher for longer, while contributing to a healthier scalp.

Once you bought one, it would stay with you for a lifetime.

This comes at a cost: The smallest "Pocket" size runs $75, while the larger sizes can go for nearly $400.

That's the price of 130 years of craftsmanship, and it partly accounts for the brush's popularity among models, movie stars, and the otherwise very wealthy.

The company does no advertising because they can't meet any increase in demand.

Wrote Granados, "It is a beautiful object. In fact, the New York Times called it 'The most beautiful brush in the world."

The brand has never done extensive marketing or PR, and in an interview with Allure, Michael Pearson — Mason Pearson's grandson — says, "We can't make enough brushes to capitalize on it, so what’s the point?"

Their annual production runs from 200,000 to 300,000 a year.

Reminded that their brushes are used by all the top hairstylists and backstage at runway shows, Pearson seems bemused: "Yes, curious, isn't it?"

By contrast, 20% of the world's more disposable and mass-produced hair brushes are made in one factory in Xiamen, China, which turns out five million of them every month.

Mason Pearson offers guidance on "How to Choose Your Ideal Hairbrush" here.



September 21, 2021 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

« September 20, 2021 | Main | September 22, 2021 »