Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can you boil a lobster in butter?

Last night, over a few beers, a group of us were discussing the magic that ensues when lobster meets butter. Someone wondered whether it would be possible (and delicious) to actually cook a lobster by boiling it in butter.
  • One theory was that it is impossible to boil butter - it simply burns too fast.
  • Another theory is that it is possible to do but is prohibitively expensive.
  • A third theory is that is is possible but the lobster would be so infused with butter that you would have a heart attack with a single bite.
As ardent fans of lobsters, butter, and The Internets, we were well near stunned when we searched Google for the phrases "boil lobster in butter" and "boil a lobster in butter" . . . and found zero hits. None. Zilch. Nada. How often does that happen?

Unless someone can provide us with insight, we see no choice but to perform an experiment, in the name of science, to see whether it is possible to cook a lobster by boiling it in butter.

Motorcycles and Air Conditioning

Many years ago, someone asked me whether my motorcycle had air conditioning. At the time it was the stupidist question I'd ever been asked by a sober person.

Today at lunch, Sean and I wondered whether it was still such a dumb question. Might air conditioning now be an option on some high-end motorcycle? On a very hot day, sitting at a traffic light in a city, it might be kinda nice to have a cool breeze going.

The answer seems to be that no major manufacturer is offering this as an option but there is at least one company that is developing a personal, portable air conditioner that can be used by folks riding motorcycles.

According to a 2005 posting on a website tracking venture capital in Israel, "Until now, there was no solution on the market to the suffering of motorcycle riders who must wear heavy protective gear even in summer . . . Company founders and private American and French investors put $500,000 into development of the product . . . Entrosys was one of 30 companies out of hundreds, chosen to present its invention in a special session of the legislative body. Tremendous publicity in global media ensued as the ideas was seen as next bright promise in the world of motorcyclists. Guttman is currently improving the prototype based on feedback from riders engaged in trial use. When he completes the adjustments, he sill look for an international business partner to help Entrosys bring the tiny air-conditioner to the mass market."

Here is a link to another article about the same topic.

Unfortunately for sweaty bikers, the Entrosys website shows no signs of progress or even of life. But perhaps they are secretly working on bringing this to market.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Monopoly: which colors go with which streets?

A discussion of how board games might be more fun/easier to play if we actually played them by the rules led us to a discussion of Monopoly, a game famous for its "house rules." This evolved further into us plumbing our memories to identify which streets were represented by which colors.

We did okay with purple (Baltic and Mediterranean) and red (Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois) but light blue had us all stumped. Scroll down for a board layout with the colors and property names.

Lots of other interesting stuff there, too, but keep in mind that it is a Wiki.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What are some names for missiles?

So Bart wondered why Star Wars had all these pilots in TIE Fighters and X-Wings flying around shooting each other when today's modern military engagements are mostly ships and planes shooting missiles at each other from very far away.

I replied that the reason for pilots was because it made for better storytelling; anthropomorphized missiles felt kinda boring. Bart replied that giving missiles personalities (like Mr. Data) might be interesting. That led me to wonder what the missiles might call themselves and thus, I present to you:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Does sound travel better in warm air or cold air?

It was cold in Erica's office. I came in and said hello, and she jokingly said that she couldn't hear be because of the Arctic cold in the room. That made me wonder if sound travels better in cold air than in warm air.

The answer: cold air.