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?

Scientific Ways to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer

By Anupum Pant

Suppose, someone gives you a beautiful bouquet, celebrating a very important day of your’s, say your 50th wedding anniversary – A rare event these days. Wouldn’t it make you happier if these precious flowers last longer, even if it is just “slightly longer”? If you are a person like me who is easily moved, seeing flowers last longer would certainly make you happier!

Here are a few simple scientifically proven ways you could try that would make your cut flowers last slightly longer.

Sprite or 7-Up

Well, to make a flower last for about 3 days,  of course you could cut off an inch of the stem, clean it and put it in plain water. But there is also a little addition you can do to the water to keep them blooming for a few more days.

Add some amount of sprite or 7-Up to the water. Yes, that’s it. I know, some would consider it an urban legend or a forwarded email story, trust me, it actually works. Continue reading Scientific Ways to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer

Water vs. Red-Hot Nickel Ball

By Anupum Pant

Let me just not say anything before I make you watch this video today:

In the video, a Nickel ball is heated using a torch and is dropped into a bowl of water. As the hot ball touches water for the first time, it makes a certain “Ping” sound. It enters the water and gets covered in a bubble sort of thing. As it cools and the bubble is lost, that “ping” sound comes back again. The “Ping” repeats several times and is fun to hear a metal ball do that!

So much fun that the good guys on Reddit even made a couple of ringtones out of it. Download the longer one here. And the shorter one for notifications here.

Why does it form a Bubble cover?

This happens because the metal that is dropped into water is extremely hot and makes the water around it vaporize. The vapor formed around the ball acts as an insulator and doesn’t let the water touch the metal ball. This is the same effect that lets dip your hand in molten lead or Liquid Nitrogen without getting harmed by it. The same thing happens when you drop water on a hot pan – it dances.

This effect is called the Leidenfrost effect and I’ve covered it in an article before…

I’m not sure what exactly causes the “Ping” sound. If you know or have any theories, please tell me in the comments below.

CrashCourse in Quenching

Well, if I’d have wished to piss you off with jargon, I’d have said: “You just watched a hot Nickel ball being quenched in water”

Yes, quenching. Quenching is the name for making a hot metal cool very quickly. It is pretty interesting to know why some one would, with great effort, heat a metal, and then choose to drop it in water to cool off!
Cooling a hot piece of metal very quickly makes it extremely hard. So hard, that the same process is used to make the hard edges of swords that don’t get damaged even if they are used to cut metal!

There is so much more I wanted to write about the process, but I feel this isn’t the right place for it. Let me leave it for some other day.