Breaking science news and multimedia, heavy on astronomy and physics (and heavy on citing) New vids, pics, articles, and the occasional research post for ResearchBlogging.org.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

5 Amazing Astronomy Videos: Rockets, the Sun, Stars, and Saturn

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Here's footage from the (amateur) Qu8k launch.  Personal tests of whether or not a videos is share-worthy:  My jaw has dropped / My eyes are bulging / Expletives.... check, check, and check.
"Qu8k Rocket Launch Highlights - On-board GoPro HD at 22+ miles above earth"
"Qu8k (pronounced "Quake") launched from the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to an altitude of 121,000' before returning safely to earth. Above 99% of the atmosphere, the sky turns black in the middle of the day and the curvature of the earth is clearly visible. The rocket motor produced 4,000 lbs of thrust for 8 seconds accelerating the vehicle to over Mach 3 at over 10,000'. After that, momentum carried the rocket skyward for another 84 seconds to a peak altitude of 121,000.'"



Video Credit:




Via NASA/Goddard's Flickr.  A different, but similar video to the popular one going around right now.
"Auntie Em! It’s a Twister!"
"...NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded this eruption on the sun's surface that looks much like the tornadoes that appear on Earth. This tornado, however, swirled a thousand times faster, with whirling gases reaching speeds of over 186,000 miles an hour -- compared to tornadoes on Earth that are closer to 100 miles per hour."



 Video Credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center / SDO / AIA / NCAR



"Haunting Images from the Sun"
"In the last year, the sun has gone from its quietest period in years to the activity marking the beginning of solar cycle 24. SDO has captured every moment with a level of detail never-before possible."



Video Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA



 Off of Vimeo.  Quite impressive.


The Stars as Viewed from the International Space Station. from AJRCLIPS on Vimeo.



And finally, another gem from VimeoBeautiful, this one evokes a lot of emotion, for me at least.
"This is the perfect opportunity for a Carl Sagan quote: 'Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.'  The footage in this little film was captured by the hardworking men and women at NASA and The European Space Agency with the Cassini Imaging Science System."


CASSINI MISSION from Chris Abbas on Vimeo.



Thanks to Camilla SDO on G+ /

   
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The Milky Way Is Enormously Small

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Today, one of my favorite astrophysicists, Ethan Siegel of Starts With A Bang, reminded his audience of just how big the Milky Way actually is.


We've come to the point where 1 billion stars have been identified by scientists.

1 billion, so very much... "keep in mind that this is still less than 1% of the stars in just one galaxy out of hundreds of billions in the Universe."

The Milky Way is said to have 200-400 billion stars.  It's such a meager number in comparison to it all; yet this fills such a ridiculously large span of space in comparison to our solar system, and so very much more in comparison to our world.

As I look at the night sky every night, (partly a result of nicotine) I am reminded of a trick on the human mind which reminds us that our scope of perception does not include these huge quantities.






42,  a memorable number if you're a fan of Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, comes to mind often when I look up at the moon.

Fold a standard piece of paper in half.  Again, in half. (2)  Again in half. (3)...
 
42 times, and the length, side by side, of the pieces of paper will span the distance from the Earth to the Moon.   (221,457 - 252,712 miles depending on orbit)



When I was younger, I never thought I'd find it so important to respect exponents.




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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Colorful New Photos of the Terrain on Mars

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HiRISE is a NASA project well worth following.  Their photographs are consistently stunning.
Here are 3 recent beauts:

"A Wild Assortment of Jumbled Rocks"
"This image covers a region of Mars near Nili Fossae that contains some of the best exposures of ancient bedrock on Mars."


"Mineral Veins"
"The bright linear features cutting the bedrock in the center region of this image look like mineral veins."


"Cratered Dune Forms"
"Known since at least 2003, this is a wonderful case of aeolian sandstone that preserves its original sand dune bedform shapes and lies unconformably over a previously-eroded surface of layered sedimentary rock."




Credit for all images: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona




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Footage of US / Russian Underwater-to-Air Missiles

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Absolutely stunning.  Search YouTube for titles such as these.  There are many unclassified videos of similar launches.


This first is from a Russian ship.
"Underwater Missile Launch"










This launch seems pretty serious.  It doesn't look at all like a test run to me.  It travels far off-screen.
"Submarine Cruise Missile Launch"






Here's the really wild one.  The missile fails, explodes, and pieces fall back into the sea.
"Trident II launch goes wrong"






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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Near Death Experiences Explained By Science

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Cara Santa Maria of the Huffington Post has made a wonderful short video explaining the science behind near death experiences or NDE's.  Forget preconceptions based on pop news.  There actually has been ample research in the subject with legitimate science.  As a fringe topic, valid information is extremely valuable to those on the fence about the issue.  For those who are already familiar with the mechanisms behind this phenomenon, Cara makes it fun even as self-reinforcement of the ideas.

What Happens When You Die?




Video Credit: Cara Santa Maria / Huffington Post



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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

All of NASA's ATREX Media in One Place

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Here's ALL the NASA released media on ATREX
ATREX finally launched.  This is covered virtually everywhere online today, but I didn't see the full collection of media NASA released anywhere.  NASA put them out on separate pages, as well as a mission hub HERE.  I covered the mission a little over half a month ago here:
A Conspiracy Theorist's Goldmine: NASA to Launch Rockets Looking Like Missiles, Deploying Chemical Tracers (ATREX)














At the links below, you can grab other sizes, from medium to large to gigantic.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/missions/atrex-launches.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7020702157/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/6874598654/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7020702449/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/6874598370/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7020702697/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7020703167/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/7020702895/
http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?collection_id=81381&media_id=134891581
http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?collection_id=81381&media_id=137945021
http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?collection_id=81381&media_id=137933911

All media Credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center / Wallops


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Monday, March 26, 2012

Baboons Kidnap Puppies, Successfully Integrate Them into Their Groups

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Saudi Arabian baboons have been videotaped kidnapping puppies and raising them as pets.
It's fairly emotional.  This behavior in humans is atrocious.  It rings of Stockholm Syndrome. 

"[Baboons] will sometimes 'kidnap' feral dog pups to raise as pets and keep for protection, eventually forming a symbiotic relationship." - emocliae

"The 'adoption process' is closer to kidnapping than rescuing, so be warned — the first couple of minutes make for some pretty rough viewing." -The Daily What




Video Credit:
Found first at Io9, who credits The Daily What, who credits Super Punch, who credits Reddit, who points to YouTube, who points to the HOMEPAGE for Cobb County.  The subject is nowhere to be found on Cobb County.  Good job people. 



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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pix: Sunset, Sunrise, Galaxyrise, Star Cycle

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Sunset on the Water
 Image Credit: TinEye fail, Cheezeburger Network credit fail



"Sunrise"

Image Credit: Original version Lárus Sigurðarson / Color edited anonymously - TinEye fail, Cheezburger Network credit fail



 --Galaxyrise--
"Tempest Milky Way"
"A new more glorious dawn awaits.  Not a sunrise, but a galaxyrise.  A morning filled with 400 billion suns, the rising of the milky way." -Carl Sagan, can be heard in "A Glorious Dawn" (Symphony of Science)
Image Credit: Randy Halverson on G+, dakotalapse.com



Star Cycle

Image Credit: TinEye fail, Cheezeburger Network credit fail



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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Beauty in the Shade of Purple

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Nori Sakamoto via G+.  Incredible talent.
"Star Trail with Aurora at Lady Evelyn Falls"

Image Credit: Nori Sakamoto



This version of the chart gives different insight into our elements.
"The Periodic Table of Starstuff"

*The Big Bang
*Small Stars
*Suernovae
*Cosmic Rays
*Large Stars
*Exists in our labs

click to enlarge
(Not registered in TinEye)

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Atheist "Spirituality" - Getting Emotional About Science

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The word "spirituality" is off-limits to a lot of the faithless.  Largely due to Sam Harris' outspokenness for the word to be used more loosely, recently secular people are using it to describe states of mind with no satisfactory synonym.  Often, an emotional response to a concept is described, with an explanation at the end that "this is the closest I get to spirituality."

I am one of these people.  Here is the closest I get to spirituality:

Every once and a while, while learning about science, the simple forces in the universe humble me, move me, and may overwhelm me.  The astrophysics behind the too-enormous-to-comprehend, and the quantum physics in the opposite power of 10 remind me over and over where we sit in the universe.

We are all too large, a wave of the hand swirling about more particles in a nanosecond than imaginable.  This does not in any way make us important.  The particles don't give a damn about us, or anything, and obey their laws with indifference.  In fact, all the particles in the entire universe are simultaneously doing this.  We are not Gods due to the butterfly effect.

On the opposite spectrum, the units of time and distance used to define the span and life of the universe are impossible to fully grasp in the mind.

This is why videos like this below choke me up some.


"Simulated Galaxy Collisions - Gas View, Star View, Multiview"
Supermassive black holes at centers are shown in all simulation versions.

0:00-0:50 Gas is shown,
0:50-1:45 Stars are shown,
1:45-end Top Left = Gas (Face on View) Bottom Left = Gas (Edge on View) Top Right = Stars (Face on View) Bottom Right = Stars (Edge on View)

Video Credit: CfA (Center for Astrophysics) https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~phopkins/Site/Movies.html


Justin Trottier via the Centre for Inquiry expressed my sentiment in what some might think is in more depressing terms.  For me, it is just as accurate, with the exact same emotional response.


"...these truths about physical reality which pull me towards a sense of the spiritual are the same truths which simultaneously tell us that in the long run the universe is bound to a slow and final heat death.  All forms of matter and energy will in end get turned from useful to useless, providing us ultimately with that same universe becoming barren, inhospitable and devoid of life."


[Update]  When I uploaded this video, YouTube gave me a pretty bad tag suggestion FAIL:
(sized to read, sorry about the formatting)


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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Greenhouse gas can find a home underground - MIT News Office

Greenhouse gas can find a home underground - MIT News Office
"A new study by researchers at MIT shows that there is enough capacity in deep saline aquifers in the United States to store at least a century's worth of carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's coal-fired powerplants. Though questions remain about the economics of systems to capture and store such gases, this study addresses a major issue that has overshadowed such proposals."


Video Credit: Lucy Lindsey / MIT


"The research was supported by grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, the MIT Energy Initiative, the Reed Research Fund, the Martin Family Society of Fellows for Sustainability and the ARCO Chair in Energy Studies."

With further funding and implementation, this could be a game changer.

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New Sci Vids: Some History of CERN, Vortices and Lenses, and Jupiter's Atmosphere

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New from the University of Nottingham's always entertaining series "Sixty Symbols. Insights on CERN and the LHC.  He provides some lesser known, fascinating information.
"High above the LHC - Sixty Symbols"
"Before going inside, here is a visual and conversational "overview" of the Large Hadron Collider with Professor Ed Copeland."



Video Credit: University of Nottingham / Sixty Symbols



A brand new Science Off the Sphere!  I've been anticipating more from this awesome series by astronaut Don Pettit, aboard the International Space Station.
"Episode 4: Vortices and Lenses"
"NASA Astronaut Don Pettit takes advantage of the weightless environment aboard the ISS to do diffusion and lens experiments with pure water."



Video Credit: NASA / Don Pettit / ISS / APS



Space.com just shared with us a NASA Planetary Science video on Jupiter's strange atmosphere.
"New Video of Jupiter Reveals Invisible Jet Stream Wave"
"The videos show a line of small, dark, V-shaped features called "chevrons" along one edge of the jet stream. At the start, these chevrons are traveling west to east with the wind, but later, they are seen to ripple and move north and south."



Video Credit: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center



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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 New Fun Sci Videos

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From URNScienceShow, fun and very visually impressive:
"The Vortex Cannon - Student Science"
"After weeks of pestering, we finally give in and let George build a vortex cannon - with surprisingly spooky cup flying results."



Video Credit: URNScienceShow



The Sagan Series, always moving, always inspirational
"THE SAGAN SERIES (part 9) - The Humans"
Join them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/thesaganseries



Video Credit: The list is very long, see HERE



Icebergs have never looked so angry!
You'll have to fiddle with the sound during this.  The beginning rumbles of the fracturing iceberg is very impressive.  When the collapse really gets going, all the passengers on this small boat begin screaming in excitement... and don't stop.  It's a full 0db clip.
"Exploding iceberg in Antarctica!"
"The thing just exploded very close to our zodiac! Or should I say imploded. And it spat out big chunks of thousands year old ice to our heads... Crazy!"



Video Credit: Lex Coppoolse 2012



A new Neil deGrasse Tyson video!  He touches on The Most Astounding Fact once again.  This found via Huffington Post, transferred over to YouTube (now with a lack of commercials!)
"Neil DeGrasse Tyson: 'We Don't Know What's Driving 96% Of The Universe'"



Video Credit: Cara Santa Maria / Huffington Post / Neil deGrasse Tyson


In the world's best anechoic chamber, the BBC and scientists record some of the quietest sounds on Earth .  Great stuff for audiophiles or bug enthusiasts. 
Click Here for a larger version.






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Pix: Teal Sun, Saturn, and a Surreal Grand Canyon

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New release yesterday from NASA:
"Sunspots and Solar Flares"
"NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this image of an M7.9 class flare on March 13, 2012 at 1:29 p.m. EDT. It is shown here in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength particularly good for seeing solar flares and a wavelength that is typically colorized in teal."

Image Credit: NASA/SDO


New from the Cassini spacecraft, off of Universe Today
"Photo Treat: Enceladus, Titan and Saturn’s Rings"
"Little Enceladus and enormous Titan are seen on either side of Saturn’s rings in this image, a color-composite made from raw images acquired by Cassini on March 12, 2012."

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI/J. Major


Finally, a jarringly surreal photo from the Grand Canyon:
"Toroweap and Vulcan’s Throne"
"...a dramatic view of Toroweap Point was taken from the north rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona."

Image Credit: EPOD is a service of NASA's Earth Science Division and the EOS Project Science Office (at Goddard Space Flight Center) and the Universities Space Research Association.




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Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Slideshow of All the Pictures I've Ever Uploaded to This Blog

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A side effect of posting pictures on Google's Blogger system (Astronasty included) is that a picture housing website in your name pops up out of nowhere.  They label this Picasa.

With my first upload came a photo album labeled Astronasty.  I just started to pay attention to it recently.  

Here's a slideshow of 607 pictures I've uploaded to the system since the start of Astronasty, about a year and a half ago.

Double click to see them in a large slideshow on my Picasa.





Credit: Credit for each is listed on corresponding blog post.

A cool thing about the slideshow code is that all new pictures will keep getting updated without me having to do anything!

The VAST majority of it is Astronomy photographs.  I do hope you enjoy!  I just went through all of them with a smile on my face.  There are ones here in there that, out of context, look really strange; but they just make me laugh. 



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Auroras and a Galactic Thunderstorm

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First, a brand new Time-Lapse video taken in Alaska:

Timelapse: With a vengeance

"This video was taken on March 12, 2012 in Fairbanks North Star Borough County, Alaska, US."


Video Credit: Jason Ahrns  -- musubk on Flickr / Found via Universe Today



This next photograph was taken with a 6 second exposure, and is simply titled:  
"Tjeldsund Bridge"

"One of the few shots i was able to capture when the clouds broke for a minutes on jan 24th. This is the impressive Tjeldsund Bridge in Northern Norway. It connects Norways largest island Hinnøya with the mainland." -Heitmann

"Image Credit: Arild Heitmann - Google+ has some incredible photographers.  Arild Heitmann is definitely one to follow 



Our third treat comes from Earth Science's Picture of the Day.  [permalink for today's image] [main link]
 "Galactic Storm"


Image Credit:  Found via Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer) G+ stream  https://plus.google.com/u/0/108952536790629690817 very worth following. / Photographer: Bret Webster /
Summary Author: Bret Webster; Jim Foster

On the image above:
"The photo above showing the Milky Way stretching across the desert sky and a distant monsoon thunderstorm on the horizon was captured just outside of Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. I had been out taking some nighttime images of the sky in Canyonlands National Park, but as I was driving towards Dead Horse Point, I realized that the Milky Way was aligning perfectly with a thunderstorm cell well to the south of my location."







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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Drive Safe Tonight Everybody!

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(A Biologist's) St. Patrick's Day Song




Credit: YouTube User

 
Lyrics!
In the year of our lord eighteen hundred and eleven
On March the seventeenth day
I will raise up a beer and I'll raise up a cheer
For Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Here's to brewers yeast, that humblest of all beasts
Producing carbon gas reducing acetaldehyde
But my friends that isn't all -- it makes ethyl alcohol
That is what the yeast excretes and that's what we imbibe

Anaerobic isolation
Alcoholic fermentation
NADH oxidation
Give me a beer

[CHORUS]

My intestinal wall absorbs that ethanol
And soon it passes through my blood-brain barrier
There's a girl in the next seat who I didn't think that sweet
But after a few drinks I want to marry her
I guess it's not surprising, my dopamine is rising
And my glutamate receptors are all shot
I'd surely be bemoaning all the extra serotonin
But my judgment is impaired and my confidence is not

Allosteric modulation
No Long Term Potentiation
Hastens my inebriation
Give me a beer

[CHORUS]

When ethanol is in me, some shows up in my kidneys
And inhibits vasopressin by degrees
A decrease in aquaporins hinders water re-absorption
And pretty soon I really have to pee
Well my liver breaks it down so my body can rebound
By my store of glycogen is soon depleted
And tomorrow when I'm sober I will also be hungover
Cause I flushed electrolytes that my nerves and muscles needed

Diuretic activation
Urination urination
Urination dehydration
Give me a beer

[CHORUS]

CHORDS

Intro:
D DAG / bm A
D D A G / bm A G D
G D A G / G D G A
G D A bm / G D A D

Pre - chorus:
G D A bm / G D A

Chorus (Li-Diddly-I):
G D A bm A
G D A D

Verse:
D DAG / Bm A
D D A G / Bm A G D
G D A G / bm A
G D A bm / G D A D


Found via Io9


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Science Off The Sphere: An Astronaut's Own Experiments In Space

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Right now, in orbit around the Earth is the ISS, the International Space Station.  Aboard is a curious astronaut, Don Pettit, who in his spare time conducts zero-gravity experiments of his own creation.  His playful curiosity is endearing, and his experiments engaging.

Unfortunately, his Main Page doesn't have an RSS feed.  It's easy to get hooked on the series.  I'll make sure to post new episodes as they come out.


"Knitting Needle Experiment"
In episode 1 of Science off the Sphere, Don ionizes a knitting needle.  He squirts drops of water at it, which then fall into "orbit" around the needle.  Although it's electromagnetism at work here, the orbit is very similar to gravity.



Video Credit: NASA / Don Pettit / ISS


Episode 2 of Science off the Sphere: Bistronauts
Don demonstrates their counter-intuitive zero-g open beverages.  Straws are just too easy.  Astronauts can drink out of open containers too, just like on Earth.



Video Credit: NASA / Don Pettit / ISS


"Thin Film Physics"
In Episode 3 of Science off the Sphere, Don plays with liquid surface tension.  It normally takes a high speed camera on Earth in order to get some really intense fluid dynamics footage.  Up in zero-g however, Don easily shows us some really cool liquid movement.



Video Credit: NASA / Don Pettit / ISS



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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Caramel Color Carcinogens -- Bring Back Crystal Pepsi Part 2

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ResearchBlogging.org
4-MI (aka 4-MEI) is a byproduct of the caramel coloring classically used in Coke and Pepsi.  New articles on its effect on the public have people scared (again).  The new information being spread has reminded us that this chemical is a mild carcinogen.  Because the FDA could require cancer warnings on their products, these two soda giants are almost certainly going to change their formulas.


Structural Formula for 4-Methylimidazole


Quick definition: 
"4-Methylimidazole (4MI) is used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, photographic chemicals, dyes and pigments, cleaning and agricultural chemicals, and rubber. It has been identified as a by-product of fermentation in foods and has been detected in mainstream and side stream tobacco smoke."
-PubMed [1]

 Statements of 4-MEI as a carcinogen:
"... 4MI is carcinogenic inducing alveolar/bronchiolar adenoma and carcinoma in male and female mice. 4MI may also induce mononuclear cell leukemia in female rats."
-PubMed [1]


"4-Methylimidazole meets the criteria for listing as known to the State to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Health and Safety Code Section 25249.5 et seq.)"
-California EPA [2]

How does this chemical byproduct get into soda?
Heating up sugar (specifically dextrose) is how this caramel coloring is created.  The caramel in itself is harmless.  However, ammonia salts are added specifically to intensify the color.  This reacts with the sugars as they degrade, creating 4-MEI!

University of Nottingham's Periodic Videos series explains it very well:

Video Credit: University of Nottingham / Brady Haran / Periodic Videos




An alternate view.  Is it all a scare?
"...this is on the extreme end of silly to me. You can take almost any chemical we're exposed to routinely, give rats or mice enormous doses of it, and see increased risks of cancer."
-Mark Hoofnagle's take after lengthy research [a PhD in physiology, a general surgeon, yet humbly admits that he's not an expert in toxicology]
-Via ScienceBlogs / Denialism Blog


As it turns out, drinking 1000+ cans a day puts you in danger.  That's a comically massive amount.


9 paragraphs down in ScienceBlogs / Denialism, Mark Hoofnagle explains specific dosages if you're interested.
CSPI overblows the cancer risk of caramel coloring in soda 


Nevertheless, the CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest-(Official site / Wikipedia) is calling for the mandatory removal of caramel color in our foods.


Coca Cola's response seems strange to me.  They don't point out the dosage-to-risk factor.  Instead they take on an arrogant tone and dismiss both the CSPI and the California EPA's evaluation.

"Unlike CSPI, The Coca-Cola Company deals in hard facts," said company representative Ben Sheidler in an e-mailed statement to Food Safety News. "Fact:  The body of science about 4-MEI in foods or beverages does not support the erroneous allegations that CSPI would like the public to believe.  The 4-MEI levels in our products pose no health or safety risks.  Outside of California, no regulatory agency concerned with protecting the public's health has stated that 4-MEI is a human carcinogen.  The caramel color in all of our ingredients has been, is and always will be safe. That is a fact."
-Ben Sheilder, Coca Cola Rep
via Food Safety News


In the news as early as Feb. 2011, CSPI pushed the topic:
"FDA Urged to Prohibit Carcinogenic "Caramel Coloring"


California did respond.  The FDA might jump in.
The state of California has banned 4-MI in any amount that could potentially lead to one cancer case in 100,000 people. However the levels found in these 4 leading Cola brands indicated a lifetime risk of 5 cancers out of 100,000, assuming that people drink one soft drink per day. That risk rises to 10 cancers out of 100,000 people who drink only soft drinks containing caramel coloring.
-ScienceBlogs / Denialism


Enter Crystal Pepsi!
Pepsi-Cola has not announced its comeback.  
However, this is why I think Crystal Pepsi needs to be resurrected: 

Conveniently, Pepsi-Cola already has a "formula" in their pocket, circa 1992, that could turn this negative media attention into a great opportunity.  It's the same ol' Pepsi, without caramel color or caffeine.

For round 2, they have, in my opinion an exponentially greater chance of success in the market.
1 - They have NOSTALGIA on their side, very strong in those old enough to remember its first run.
2 - The coloration change will not have the same effect on the public because we are already familiar with the product.
3 - This, as a response to 4-MEI news, shows responsibility and responsiveness.
4 - Coca-Cola's plan of action so far is no action.  Pepsi's action in itself (IF they respond to my plea) draws attention to this.  Thus, Pepsi would look like the good guys.
5 - To "sweeten" the deal, they save money by eliminating two ingredients.
6 - I have an irrational love for Crystal Pepsi.


The original rollout fell flat back in the early nineties, for reasons I describe in detail in my Crystal Pepsi sister post:

Why It Failed -- Bring Back Crystal Pepsi: Part 1


    

...Just stay away from the diet version...
"Daily diet soda tied to higher risk for stroke, heart attack"
-MSNBC

Or, for a much better source,

"Daily diet soft drink consumption was associated with several vascular risk factors and with an increased risk for vascular events. Further research is needed before any conclusions can be made regarding the potential health consequences of diet soft drink consumption. "
-PubMed [3]



[1]
Chan, P., Hills, G., Kissling, G., & Nyska, A. (2007). Toxicity and carcinogenicity studies of 4-methylimidazole in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice Archives of Toxicology, 82 (1), 45-53 DOI: 10.1007/s00204-007-0222-5

[2]
National Toxicology Program (NTP, 2007) (2007). Chemical Meeting The Criteria For Listing As Causing Cancer Via The Authoritative Bodies Mechanism: 4-Methylimidazole NTP Technical Report Series (535) Other: NIH: 07-4471

[3]
Gardener, H., Rundek, T., Markert, M., Wright, C., Elkind, M., & Sacco, R. (2012). Diet Soft Drink Consumption is Associated with an Increased Risk of Vascular Events in the Northern Manhattan Study Journal of General Internal Medicine DOI: 10.1007/s11606-011-1968-2




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Why It Failed -- Bring Back Crystal Pepsi: Part 1

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I look back with nostalgia at Crystal Pepsi.  Thinking back to '92-'93, can you remember the taste? To jog your memory, go grab a regular Pepsi.  It's the exact same flavor, sans coloring and caffeine.




Why was Crystal Pepsi a failure?
The answer can be found by looking at experiments we've done on consumers' taste, expectations, and satisfaction with beverages on the market.  What causes a positive or negative response in the consumer partly has to do with the psychological associations they have with the flavor they are expecting to taste either clashing or matching with what they actually get.  As it turns out, inferences we make due to a drink's color mean a lot.


Scientists from Appalachian State University and the University of Auckland worked together in a paper that explains the process:
"Effects of Food Color On Perceived Flavor"
"...food color affects the consumer's ability to correctly identify flavor, to form distinct flavor profiles and preferences, and dominates other flavor information sources, including labeling and taste.  Further, these results support the notion that food color is inextricably linked to expected flavor in the minds of consumers, making the selection of uncharacteristic food color problematical.  In the following, we present three possible strategies for making the introduction of a novel food color viable for marketing communication purposes.  The first is to teach consumers to accept a novel color as characteristic, or emblematic, of a particular food, as green is for peppermint or brown is for cola. [I interject - brown was long established by Pepsi/Coca-Cola]  This is a strategy that is self-defeating in some respects, but is useful under certain circumstances, as we shall discuss.  The second strategy is to celebrate the very incongruity of a novel food color, to announce to the consumer that its novelty is there to surprise and delight, and the proper response is to have fun and enjoy it.  [Interjecting again - Crystal Pepsi's marketing directly attempted this, as you'll see in the embedded commercial at the bottom]  The third strategy for the introduction of a novel food color is to sever the food color and flavor expectations connection, making it impossible for the consumer to connect the two..."
[1]

Breaking cola's brown "novel color" factor
"...A drawback to rendering a novel color no longer novel is that it loses its ability to surprise the consumer into attention, which was the prime reason for utilizing novel color in the first place..."
[1]

Backpedaling: no coloration is not vibrant
"...When the appearance of a food product is nondescript, then associating it with a new, more vibrant color can enhance its noticeability, its distinctiveness and its appeal..."
[1]


For a current example,  the marketing for a drink sold now, "The Green Machine,"  shows that the company (Naked) appropriately adjusted their marketing based on the insights we're talking about.  The product title rhymes, is intriguing, and directly addresses the odd color in a playful way.  Stamped on it is a catchphrase, "Looks Weird, Tastes Amazing."  There are many fruit juices in the ingredients, and they make sure not to be vague about it.



Pepsi, in trying to spice things up, took a step backwards.  I don't think that "clear" was necessarily perceived as a color in this situation, but as the lack of it.  Nevertheless, they severed the connection between the niche, classic brown color associated with cola, inviting the public to evaluate the taste without any preconceived notions.  As a result, the consumer initially pays more attention to the flavor.  The fact that the flavor is exactly the same as the brand's main product then lead to disappointment. 

There may be hope for Crystal Pepsi yet... 
In part 2 of this subject, I talk about 4-MI, cola's caramel color, in the news as a deadly carcinogen.

Caramel Color Carcinogens -- Bring Back Crystal Pepsi Part 2

  In the conclusion of Part 2, I make my argument
for the resurrection of Crystal Pepsi!


Here is a Crystal Clear Pepsi commercial from its launch back in 1992.  Tssst...AHHh!





ResearchBlogging.org
[1]
Lawrence L. Garber Jr., Eva M Hyatt, & Richard G. Starr Jr. (2000). The effects of food color on perceived flavor Journal of Marketing Theory And Practice, 59-75 Other: ISSN: 10696679



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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

3 New Astronomy Pictures

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First, NASA's Image of the Day, a beaut!
"Compact Planetary System
"This artist's concept depicts a planetary system so compact that it's more like Jupiter and its moons than a star and its planets." 

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Which is not to be confused with NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day!  Totally different...
"Angry Sun Erupting"
"AR 1429 was captured in great detail in the Sun's chromosphere three days ago by isolating a color of light emitted primarily by hydrogen. The resulting image is shown in inverted false color with dark regions being the brightest and hottest."
(I'll be talking more on false coloration in the near future.)

Image Credit: Alan Friedman


Finally, new from ESA's multimedia gallery:
"Aurora Australis, as seen from the ISS"
"Another amazing capture from ESA astronaut André Kuipers, from his vantage point on the ISS. The Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, in the high atmosphere between Australia and Antarctica."


Image Credit: ESA/NASA



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