Stable, nontoxic refrigerants changed the world, transforming food storage, expanding Sun Belt populations, even helping early movie theaters succeed. But they also wrecked the ozone layer — Earth’s shield against harmful ultraviolet radiation.
Today, as stockpiles dwindle — and prices rise — due to phase-outs set by the Montreal Protocols 30 years ago, the future of Freon and its successors remains in doubt.
In honor of World Oceans Day (June 8), here’s my recent article on some of the remarkable discoveries made by marine biologists over the past few years. From clearing up the murky “lost years” of juvenile turtles to further solidifying our understanding of a jellyfish’s final fate, these delvers of the deep have shrunk what Shakespeare called “the vasty deep” to something a bit more fathomable but no less amazing. Find out more as I take a deep dive into …
Food is both mundane and magical, ephemeral and essential – the ultimate cultural touchstone. Our religions proscribe taboo foods, oblige sacred meals and employ food as a conduit for sacred power. Our myths abound with divine edibles that grant gods immortality, while our folktales counsel against feasting in fairyland lest we trap ourselves forever.
But for all the reverence we pay them, many comestibles arose from humble, bizarre or even disgusting sources, while what we choose, or are compelled, to eat is driven by everything from necessity to neurosis. For better or worse, food scientists, molecular gastronomists and, yes, marketing firms channel these impulses in profitable (if not always healthy directions). The results are, shall we say, appetizingly bizarre …
It’s said that we eat first with our eyes. It’s also said that there’s nothing new under the sun. There are a lot of sayings, is my point, but this isn’t an article about that. It’s an article about color-changing food.
“But wait,” I hear some of you saying. “Food already changes color. How do you think we get brown bananas?” To which I reply that nobody likes a smart aleck. Or something about “out of the mouths of babes,” assuming you’re a babe. Because you’re not far off from some of the ways that food scientists are using to take color-changing foods to the next level, particularly in the frozen food aisle.
One of the many things I enjoy about teaching my university class, Science, Feuds, Scandals and Hoaxes, is the opportunity to explore some of the most outrageous ideas ever to gain traction in the public mind. It’s easy to make fun today, but some of these ideas were grounded in reasoning that, though flawed, eventually gave rise to the right answer. Then again, there’s really no defending those doctors who thought that woman was giving birth to rabbit parts.