Lots of readers who know about my science background have asked me to do some columns where I answer very technical questions in a way the layman can understand. So, here is the first column from the Santa Fe Science Dude. Bring on your questions!Um, Bob, your so-called “science background” would be what?
I took biology in high school, at least until we had to dissect frogs. Then I barfed, and they put me in study hall. Ah, I wasn’t aware you really did have such a rich grounding in science. Here’s my question. When I go through the snack section at Albertsons, the bags of potato chips and pretzels are puffed up almost to the point of exploding. Why is that?
Good question! That’s because they are packaged at sea level, but up here at our 7,000-foot altitude, they are literally close to bursting.No way! That’s totally awesome!
Awesome? According to my calculations, if we were a mere 22 feet higher in altitude, those bags actually would explode violently, turning the Albertsons snack aisle into a slaughterhouse. Have you ever seen an artery severed by a high-velocity Cool Ranch Dorito? It isn’t pretty. Next question?My neighbor asked me to go up in his hot air balloon at the big Albuquerque festival next month. As the Science Dude, do you think those things are safe?
Well, obviously not if you’re going up more than 22 feet and taking Doritos with you. Next?Hey Science Dude, I’ve noticed that in the winter I don’t see my breath as much in Santa Fe as I do in other parts of the country. Explain that.
It’s not so much the heat as it is the humidity.What? That’s your answer?
Sure. What do you expect from a fake science column in a free newspaper? Next question?I’m curious, Science Dude. Why doesn’t my coffee in Santa Fe taste as hot as I think it should?
Again, it’s our altitude. At sea level, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. But in Santa Fe, it boils at, I don’t know, like 64 degrees or something, so when your coffee machine thinks it’s fully brewed and steaming hot, it really isn’t. You could stick your entire hand in your coffee mug and not even feel anything. Please note, the Santa Fe Reporter is not responsible if you actually try that.Science Dude, is evolution a real thing?
It is decidedly so.Okay, see, now you’re just giving answers from a Magic 8 Ball toy, aren’t you?
Reply hazy, try again.Hey, Science Dude, my mom served me some “flourless chocolate cake” the other night. How can that be possible? What’s really in it?
If it’s a cake, it has flour in it. Otherwise, it would be the work of Satan. Science Dude, my question is, I like eating at Vinaigrette, but it’s so hard to park there. What can I do?
Give it another try. They’ve recently added more spaces.STOP! Stop this right now! Flourless cake? Parking advice? This isn’t science, it’s just horse crap! You don’t know anything! What are you trying to pull here, Science Dude?
Busted. I’m sorry. I just thought if I seemed to really know my science, those brilliant folks up at the Santa Fe Institute would invite me to visit them, and my friends would be impressed. You know, like, here’s me hanging with Cormac McCarthy, saying smart stuff and everything. That’s all I wanted…Right. Good luck with that, Science Dude. Maybe they’ll even invite you up there on a Tuesday.
Huh? What’s so special about Tuesdays at the Institute? Everybody knows that’s the day they dissect the frogs.
Robert Basler worked for Reuters in the US and Asia as an editor, reporter,
manager and blogger. He now lives in Santa Fe with his wife, and way too many
rescued dogs and cats. Blue Corn appears twice a month. Email the author: email@example.com