The carbon footprints of various sandwiches [study]

May 23rd, 2019

There’s a chance (as yet unquantified) that you’re eating a sandwich as you read this. If so, you might pause to consider its carbon footprint  – which, it turns out, is likely to be content-dependent. That’s one of the findings of a 2018 study from Dr Namy Espinoza-Orias and Professor Adisa Azapagic of the Sustainable Industrial Systems dept., School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Sciences, The University of Manchester, UK.

“This study estimated the carbon footprint associated with the production and consumption of sandwiches, prepared commercially and at home. In total, 40 most popular recipes were considered. The carbon footprint of a ready-made sandwich ranges from 739 g CO2 eq. for egg & cress to 1441 g CO2 eq. for the breakfast option. The carbon footprint of the most popular home-made sandwich (ham & cheese) varies from 399-843 g CO2 eq. per serving. The average impact from the home-made option (609 g CO2 eq.) is 2.2 times lower than the impact from the commercial equivalent with the same ingredients (ham, cheese and mayonnaise).”

Details of their paper : Understanding the impact on climate change of convenience food: Carbon footprint of sandwiches can be found online in the journal Sustainable Production and Consumption, Volume 15, July 2018, Pages 1-15.

And which may be digested in full here 

“National Income Inequality Predicts Cultural Variation in Mouth to Mouth Kissing”

May 22nd, 2019

A new study marries, so to speak, economics and kissing. The study is:

National Income Inequality Predicts Cultural Variation in Mouth to Mouth Kissing,” Christopher D. Watkins, Juan David Leongómez, Jeanne Bovet, Agnieszka Żelaźniewicz, Max Korbmacher, Marco Antônio Corrêa Varella, Ana Maria Fernandez, Danielle Wagstaff, and Samuela Bolgan, Scientific Reports, vol. 9, article no. 6698 2019. (Thanks to Tony Tweedale for bringing this to our attention.) The authors explain:

Romantic mouth-to-mouth kissing is culturally widespread, although not a human universal…

Here, we test for cultural variation (13 countries from six continents) in these behaviours/attitudes according to national health (historical pathogen prevalence) and both absolute (GDP) and relative wealth (GINI)…. When aggregated, the predicted relationship between income inequality and kissing frequency was over five times the size of the null correlations between income inequality and frequency of hugging/cuddling and sex.

Here is some numerical detail:

The Secrets Within Prince Shōtoku: The 70 objects inside him

May 21st, 2019

Secrets will be revealed about how the the secrets were revealed about what was secreted inside a seemingly simple statue:

When the sculpture arrived in the United States in 1937, a visiting Japanese conservator discovered that it contained an extraordinary cache of more than 70 dedicatory objects. It has taken over 80 years to begin to unlock the complex secrets of this princely time capsule, thanks to advances in technology and scholarship.

The secrets will be revealed, we are told, in a talk on Tuesday, May 28, at 4:15 pm, at the Harvard Art Museums in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s called “Prince Shōtoku: The Secrets Within.”

The mystery of cutting things in half [philosophical study]

May 20th, 2019

Butchers, bakers and donutmakers probably won’t forsee all that much trouble in cutting something in half. If you’re a philosopher on the other hand . . . Problems arise when trying (to imagine) the process of cutting something exactly in half. Given that most objects could be said to have a centre point of some kind, then, if that object is cut in half, could just one of the two parts ends up with the point? If one half gets the point and the other doesn’t, then the two halves aren’t equal – so the object hasn’t been truly cut in half.

Dr Aaron J Cotnoir. who is a senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews, Scotland and part of the Arché Philosophical Research Centre, examines such things in his essay ‘How to make donuts and cut things in half ‘ which can be read in its entirety here.
Pointing out – en passant – that :

“As usual, there are no perfect solutions in philosophy, but there are many good ones. And not all good solutions are equally good.”

BONUS: Dr Cotnoir has also investigated whether a God could create a stone so heavy that he/she/it would be unable to lift it and the question of How Many Angels Can be in the Same Place at the Same Time

The illustration shows (one way) to cut a ring-donut (approximately) in half – creating only one boundary with no holes rather than two.

Research research by Martin Gardiner

Migrant Warning: Crossing the Coffee-Cup Barrier

May 19th, 2019

When you get a cup of coffee from a vending machine, are you getting a soupćon of ink in your drink? This study looks into that question:

Determination the Set-Off Migration of Ink in Cardboard-Cups Used in Coffee Vending Machines,” Esther Asensio, Teresa Peiro, and Cristina Nerín, Food and Chemical Toxicology, epub 2019. The authors, at the University of Zaragoza, Spain, explain:

Food and beverages may interact strongly with the materials that they touch and this is specially important in vending machines, where often the contact is at high temperature. These interactions may result in migration of substances from the food contact materials to the beverages, affecting both the odour, quality of food as well as the health of consumers….

The aim of this study was the determination of the migration of compounds coming from different types of cardboard-cups used in coffee vending machines. The volatile compounds present in cardboard-cups were studied and specific migration studies were carried out by solid phase microextraction with headspace coupled to gas chromatography (HS-SPME-GC-MS). The migration of compounds from the cardboard-cups manufacturing material, plastic coating (LDPE) and printing inks were identified and quantified….

it is important to highlight the presence of compounds from both the material of the cardboard-cups (wood pulp) and the plastic coating (LDPE). Several compounds classified as Class II and Class III according to the Cramer rules, stand out the importance of the study and the required control of them, while their analysis suggests that this food contact material is unlikely to contribute significantly to dietary Cramer-threshold exceedance….

Some of the compounds found are not authorized for building food packaging materials. Even though they are coming from printing inks, the contact layer in the cups is LDPE, what makes this structure as a multilayer and then, included in the regulation 10/2011/EU. It is well known that diffusion of low polar organic molecules in LDPE is very fast and consequently the sorpted compounds in direct contact with LDPE can be easily transferred to the food.

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