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Deprived of Science

August 21st, 2010 by Greippi

I finished my third year of university over two months ago. In the time since then I’ve been to Chicago (USA, obviously), France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Italy. “Ooh you lucky chicken” you may be thinking. However, I tend to get rather fidgety if I have no work to do.

My brain is constantly flitting around solving problems, defining objects by their chemical properties and mentally mixing bicarb and vinegar, but sometimes I want something a bit more meaty (like a test tube full of bovine heart extract from which I shall isolate mitochondrial enzymes).

Whilst sitting in a chalet up the side of a mountain somewhere in the Alps, my eyes happened to cast upon a bottle of Evian mineral water. I noticed that the label included a mineral analysis of the mg/l concentrations of various ions in the water. I then did something horribly, shamefully, nerdy – I converted all the values in to molar concentrations to see if it could tell me anything interesting.

I learned two useful things from this exercise:

1. In this case, averaged values completely ruin data sets – the concentrations of different ions just weren’t comparable to a sensible degree of sanity. The data I got back looked like a camel had dribbled on a newspaper. Truly a case of garbage in, garbage out.

2. I need to go back to work and do something useful with my brain. Urgently.

Postscript: when In Chicago I was staying very near Fermilab, and in The Alps, CERN. I visited neither. Poor show.

Posted in Inane babblings

4 Responses

  1. Cap'n Refsmmat

    You ought to pick up photography, so your brain can spend its time finding the best possible view instead of analyzing a bottle of mineral water while you’re in the middle of the Alps.

  2. Katie Grape

    hehe, I did that as well!

  3. mississippichem

    Yeah, I always feel fishy about the analytical results on many consumer products. They must report those averages with a very low n. Whats even worse are the trade names they use for some of the ingredients that provide no real information to the curious chemists, and just serve to confuse the layperson. Whatever, I’ll still drink it. 🙂

  4. Katie Grape

    I say we start a revolution to make food labels more informative to bored scientists.

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