The Chemistry Of Cookies

Cookies are awesome.  No question.  They look brilliant, taste fantastic, and smell amazing!

But have you ever wondered why?  No?  To be honest I hadn’t either, but that inescapable desire for freshly baked cookies once the smell hits your nose is all to do with science.

You stick cookie dough into an oven, and magically, you get a plate of warm, gooey cookies. Except it’s not magic; it’s science.

Here’s another gem from Ted-Ed educator Stephanie Warren that explains exactly why.

So next time you bake some cookies there’s no need to set the kitchen timer, just wait for your nose let you know when the Maillard reaction has taken place.

Proof that “science can be pretty sweet”.  Happy baking!

Little Planet Dubai 360

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel out to the Middle East with work on a number of occasions over the past few years.  This means I’ve viewed slightly more than most of Dubai’s airport and terminals, though this is one viewpoint I never thought I’d see it from!

Full screen viewing recommended for this one.

The video is a spectacular time lapse capture that was shot over 30 hours and comprises of 88,000 (yes, eighty eight thousand!) photos to show 360 degree views of the earth rotating around a point on top of the airport control tower.

I haven’t counted, but I’m assured it features over 1,000 planes taking off and landing.

If you watch carefully – you will notice that the Little Planet actually makes exactly one rotation over the 24 hours of real time. Terminal 3 at the airport acts as an hour hand on a 24 hour clock, with midnight at the top, and midday at the bottom, so you can tell exactly what time every single frame was taken!

The footage was shot across four synchronised Canon 1Dx cameras using EF 8-15mm f4 L USM fisheye zoom lenses and Kolor Autopano Video was used to create the panoramas.

If that wasn’t enough, the Dubai 360 site has a very impressive interactive version you can spin and play around with.  Have fun!

Origami Robot

Origami and Robots – two things that I love.

Put them together and we seem to be on the verge of having our very own real life transformers (my preference resides with the original, not Michael Bay’s modern day efforts).

Ok, not quite as spectacular as Optimus Prime, nor does it function as much other than a flat sheet when not in robot form, but we now have something that can not only assemble itself but then walk away to do its job… without any human input!

Origami can produce stunningly complex shapes and geometry from a single sheet of paper, it’s even used more often than you might realise in science such as arranging sensors or amplifiers in particularly tight spaces, or understanding 6-dimensional spaces in Cosmology.

Inspired by the 1980s hit toy Shrinky Dinks (I remember making numerous keyrings and magnets) that, when heated, shrink to a hard finish without altering their colour or shape, scientists from Harvard and MIT now have a full electro-mechanical system.

The system consists of a flat polystyrene sheet, a flexible circuit board across each carefully designed hinge, two motors, a microcontroller and two batteries.  The microcontroller instructs the circuits to heat up which folds up the sheet, then, once cooled, the polystyrene hardens and the robot crawls off as tasked.

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The team from Harvard believes that future versions of this could help with activities from the mundane in helping people sweep leaves off their driveway to launching flat pack satelites that self-assemble into space.

Time and transport costs could also soon cost a fraction of what they are now if functional products can be shipped around as flat sheets and auto-assembled on site (a shelter for disaster zones is a perfect example).

In emergency situations or hard-to-reach places—under a crevice or pile of rubble, let’s say—the ability to deploy a compact robot that can then rearrange itself into a functional one could be a godsend.

There are still many obstacles to overcome, such as the frequency with which these prototypes catch fire due to the heat generated in folding, or the fact that the assembly alone completely drains the battery, but the future holds almost unlimited possibilities for these little guys, and all for materials that cost less than $100 (~£60).

A flat sheet of material is still a long way away from a 1967 Camaro SS or a Western Star truck cab, but given how those films usually end up that’s probably a good thing.

Read the full scientific journal here.

 

 

 

 

Colourant

Colourant is a superbly fun idea that features a series of floating “sculptures” of colourful liquid thrown into the air by Jeremy Floto and Cassandra Warner of Floto+Warner.

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The images capture the imperceptible as the camera shutter blinks for 1/3500th of a second, a fraction that your eye would barely recognise it before it was over and just a mess on the ground.

a momentary graffiti of air and space

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Each of the shapes doesn’t quite look real, yet looks perfectly natural all at the same time.

Creating shapes of nature not experienced by the human eye, these short-lived anomalies are frozen for us to view at 3500th of a second. Transforming the non-discernible and ephemeral to the eternal.

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The beauty is in the technical aspects as much as it is in the colour and landscapes, “the essence of photography – immortalise the transitory”.  A poetic a description of an optical illusion as I’ve heard.

Super Mario Bros Speed Run

Back in the day I was really good at Super Mario Bros on the NES,  I reckon I’d even still be quite good today if you found a working console to sit me down in front of, blew the dust out the game cartridge and handed me a hard-wired controller.

However, my humble memories of jumping on Goombas, collecting coins and sliding down pipes to secret worlds is nothing compared to this.

Though I never actually attempted a speed run, I am certain I’d fall woefully short of Mario Speed Runner Blubbler who completes the entire game (yes, the entire game!) in under five minutes.  Four minutes and 57.69 seconds to be exact.

Every jump he or she makes is pixel perfect, superbly judged even whilst holding down the B button to ensure Mario is running (always a downfall of mine when getting over confident).  As is the ability to avoid the time-consuming end of level fireworks (which only appear if you finish a level with a time ending 1, 3, or 6).

Super Mario, super skills.

Mayamada Kickstarter

Japanese-inspired clothing brand Mayamada is back!

Not that they ever actually went away, quite the opposite in fact.  They’ve been nose to the grindstone working on new items (Samurai snapback anyone?) and this time they’ve brought the offering of Samurai Chef Volume 2!

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If you recall Volume 1Samurai Chef is an action comedy story set around the premise of Iron Chef but with special ingredients that turn the dishes into battle ready opponents.  The Kickstarter campaign for Volume 1 was a smash hit and this aims to pick up right where that one left off but with a bigger (and therefore better!) 150+ page graphic novel.

Action and comedy baked into one delicious comic. The dramatic conclusion of the Samurai Chef: The toughest cooking show around!

Here is their Kickstarter video explaining it all

If you read Volume 1 then you’ll definitely be wanting to know how the kitchen battle ends and, well, if you didn’t here’s your chance to find to discover dramatic food battles and more crazy cooking antics with “the toughest judge since Gordon Ramsey”.

As before, you can pledge from £1 so there’s no reason you can’t be a part of it.

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Volume 1 was fantastic so to help finish the food fight and make Volume 2 a reality by heading over to Kickstarter and pledging your donation.

Lego World Cup Final

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you probably noticed that the Fifa World Cup final was on last weekend with Mario Götze grabbing the winner in extra time for the Germans.  With the hype and celebrations slowly fading I’ve got just one more World Cup related post to round it all off.

Following the final it took barely 48 hours for the brick-by-brick team at the Guardian to output this wonderful Lego recreation of the highlights of the match.

Granted I’m a bit slow off the mark (I’ve been out enjoying the sunshine!) but it’s still worth a watch and great attention to detail as ever.  Lego plus football, what’s not to like?

Enjoy!

Via Kayleigh on Twitter.


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