The Evil Powdered Alcohol or Palcohol

By Anupum Pant

As if liquid alcohol wasn’t itself causing enough menace, now we have this futuristic powdered alcohol. They call it “Palcohol”.

All you need is, to mix a little of it with water, and there, you have your doze for the day. Other way to consume it would be to snort it for an “instantaneous high”, which by the way, is nothing less than deadly.

On an unrelated note, I find the host of this show is so adorable.

Problems

  • Palcohol certainly makes it easy for kids (and others) to carry alcohol around, and also to move it into places where it isn’t allowed (football games and concerts), which is definitely not desirable.
  • Also, the powder is highly flammable. Who wants a bomb in their pocket?
  • Another really bad thing about it is that it can easily kill you. Snorting can damage your mucous membrane. Also, since it is alcohol in high concentration, you can easily overdose on powdered alcohol and pass out.
  • The nightmare of every person, date rape, well, that just got a lot easier. Scary! How easy would it be for a creep to slip this powder into a drink of an unsuspecting victim – This is also Lacy’s primary concern (watch the video below).
  • So many new laws need to be in place before it gets available for public.

The patent to create powdered alcohol was published long back, in the 70s, but it is only now that they have got a federal approval. However, the Fed’s approval was taken back due to some issues. It is interesting to note that several other countries like Japan, Netherlands and Germany already have such products that are being sold in the market. How do the authorities in those countries  deal with this menace!

Nevertheless, Palcohol, a new and improved way to get drunk is here. It’s not going back.

Good news (?) is that it can be made at home. Read this PopSci article for the recipe.

I see only problems with Palcohol. I don’t think it needs to be in the retail market. What do you say?

Talk by Arvind Gupta Will Make You Salute Him

By Anupum Pant

Background

We are all born scientists. Young kids have an inborn talent of thinking and learning by interacting with their environment – just like scientists do. Their everyday play is a type of experimentation and the toys they use, are their scientific equipment.

But unlike the children of developed countries, in India, a major chunk of little kids are not fortunate enough to cross ways with these fancy toys. In a place like India where 70% of the nation’s population still resides in backward villages, a man like Arvind Gupta is doing some really incredible work that deserves a salute. He’s popularizing science among kids by showing them quirky ways to convert trash into useful toys.

The Story of Mr. Gupta

He is the Indian Bill Nye – the Indian science guy – Arvind Gupta.
Arvind Gupta calls himself a toy maker (I think that is a very humble name he gives himself) and he has been doing it for the last 30 years! During the 70s when Mr Gupta was studying in IIT – Kanpur, he lived through a period which came with a revolution that aimed at revitalizing primary science in the village schools. Later, he went to the US, studied at Caltech, came back, worked at the top research laboratories in the country, and yet he wasn’t satisfied.

He somehow felt that the cutting-edge research he was doing, its effect on the major part of the Indian people wasn’t directly visible to him. This was when he started a village sized program to popularize science among the rural kids. He continues to do this even today. His way of doing it – Teach them to convert trash into toys. It was a beautiful idea.

I still remember watching Arvind Gupta on Doordarshan, teaching us science. We never noticed we were learning –  by touching, feeling, cutting, sticking – pulling things apart and putting things together.

His toys

He can turn anything into a toy that explains a basic science principle in a very interesting way to children. For instance, his way of sticking match sticks together to make objects as simple as 2 dimensional angles to objects as complex as bucky balls, is just amazing. But that’s not all.

Go to his YouTube channel you’ll find a number of tutorials to create amazing little devices from trash, which even adults will enjoy. Besides that, to cater to the linguistically diverse population of India, his videos come in languages like Hindi, English, Tamil, Bengali etc…

Watch his talk below. In a 15 minute breathless talk you’ll watch him demonstrate everything from simple mathematical, biological, chemical and physical principles with match sticks and rubber tube parts, to at least twenty other plain yet ingenious toys. Watch him make it all, right there at the talk! You can’t miss it.

The one I like the best is the slate he makes, using wool and velcro, for blind people. The second best toy in my opinion is the incredibly simple whistle made by cutting a straw. The crank generator made of trash is impressive too! What do you like to most? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Every kid would love science this way.

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A Mathematical Guide to Optimize Pizza Buying

By Anupum Pant

The logical engineer in me has always paid a lot of attention to how well my money is being put to use, or if something I bought was well worth it. So, before buying anything, I usually love to add in a basic mathematical calculation that would ensure the best logical use of my money. I used to do the same when I was studying engineering and had come up with a handful of tricks, which enabled me to eat the best food, in best quantities at the lowest prices.

Optimized Pizza Buying

Till date, I had relied on calculations for individual joints to buy the pizza that gave me the best value for money (irrespective of what my stomach could fit). In other words, I had never used statistical methods, as I always went to only 2 or 3 pizza places and never felt a need to do it statistically.

So yesterday, while skimming through blogs on NPR, I came across a post by Quoctrun Bui, where he had calculated the best valued pizza size using statistical methods. 

The final findings of his study based on 74,476 prices from 3,678 pizza places were condensed into a graph which depicted data as follows (here is the link to the article for an interactive version of the graph).

pizza guide

Conclusion

The above graph plots 74,476 data points to find the pizza size that gives you the best value for money. The y-axis plots price-per-square-inch – the lesser price-per-square-inch you pay, the better deal you score.

This basically means that buying the largest pizza gets the most value out of your money. As the size increases the value for money increases or the price you pay per-square-inch of pizza decreases. – Statistically speaking.

Adding value

I felt a need to add value to the study by finding how well ‘buying a large pizza’ to get the best value works in India.  So, I selected a popular joint Dominos (where I go all the time) for the test. I dug out their menu (probably an old one) to see if buying the large pizza always works in India. Here is a record of price you pay per square inch at Dominos for various sizes and categories of pizzas. (Click the image to see a better version)

pizza buying guide dominos
I did not pay much attention. Please point if there is a mistake.

Conclusion (Dominos India)

  • No, always buying the large pizza clearly is not the best option at Dominos in India.
  • A small pizza is the best option (economically) if you are buying from the categories: Simply veg, Veg I or Simply Non-veg.
  • A large pizza is the best option (economically) if you are buying from the categories: Veg II, Non-Veg I or Non-Veg II
  • Never go for the small Non-veg II pizza. It is the worst choice you can make.
  • Never ever get a medium pizza from any category!

I’d love to see someone doing the same thing for other popular pizza joints. Do get back to me if you have done it. I’ll add it to the article as an update.

 

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