Fermentations on Discovery

The fourth issue of the magazine I help edit, Fermentations, was printed about a week ago, and is as we speak en route to the four corners of the US.  This latest issue, entitled “Discovery” includes Brad Belschner reflecting on how science really ought to work in “Science in Context,” Dr. Peter Leithart reviewing William Pfaff’s “Irony of Manifest Destiny,” Cat Sentz offering an apologia for video games in “Saving Art with Games,” instructions on how to make suet pudding, reflections on the latest shenanigans in the Anglican Communion, the ever-popular Bits of Tid, and much much more.

Here’s a particularly intriguing excerpt from the theme article, by Brad Belschner: 

“We must understand organisms within the context we find them—not just biologically, but temporally, as well. Here’s where it gets confusing. Bear with me for a moment. This is not an area many scientists have considered. Just because I did a chemical experiment today, does that mean I can repeat the exact same chemical experiment tomorrow? Well, maybe not. History itself is part of the context. Some observations just don’t match up with the Laws of Physics as they’re currently understood. I’ll give you an eerie example: When chemists synthesize new chemicals (species of chemicals the world has never seen), they often have great difficulty in getting those chemicals to crystallize. They just won’t budge. They sit there and remain liquids practically forever. Sometimes it takes years for them to crystallize. But once they do crystallize, they suddenly begin to crystallize in laboratories all over the world, simultaneously. It’s as if the chemical needed to “figure out” how to crystallize, and it took a while to get the hang of it. Turanose, an obscure kind of sugar, was considered to be a liquid for decades until it first crystallized in the 1920s. After that, turanose everywhere started crystallizing.”

If you want to learn more about Fermentations, check out our (very bare-bones and not even up-to-date, but soon to be completely renovated) website.

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