"Future events such as these will affect you in the future..."

>> Thursday, June 03, 2010

I have seen the future of human transportation. And it involves a helluva lot of Mentos and Coke Zero:

There are those who theorize that the surface area of a mint Mento triggers rapid formation of CO2 bubbles. But I think what we're clearly seeing here is something more along the lines of that classic SF trope, the harnessed matter/antimatter reaction, you know, like the warp engines on Star Trek. And it's a sensible theory--notice that the best results are achieved with Diet Coke or Coke Zero; clearly the secret ingredient in diet soda beverages is antimatter, which catastrophically annihilates matter in the gut, negating the fattening impacts if the beverage and triggering gassiness. Think about it: it makes sense as long as you avoid the math, and since I'm awful at math that's very convenient for me, at least.

Yes, antimatter. Or maybe a wizard did it.

With some kind of disaster occurring in the Gulf Of Mexico, it seems simple enough that a Mentos/Coke solution is a major stepping-stone towards energy independence. There are obstacles, of course: I think we'd need to nationalize both corporations in order to guarantee that some Blofeld-esque maniac didn't take over both private companies and hold the world hostage, for starters. We'd pay the current owners lots of money, of course, and guarantee them a lifetime supply of precious Mentos/Coke Zero (MCZ) fuel for their skycars, jetpacks and private lunar rockets--fair is fair, naturally. Also, one suspects that growing Mentos, or brewing them, or whatever it is you do to create one, along with brewing Coke Zero, are energy-intensive tasks and that there will be some continued short-term reliance on current fuel sources until the process can be powered by MCZ engines. Which, now that I think of it, sounds sort of like a perpetual motion machine and therefore another violation of the laws of physics, if you do the math, which, again, I'm not going to because I'm not very good at it. Hey, nothing's a complete load if you can imagine it, that's what science is all about!

Join with me, if you will, in envisioning this bright hopeful future of easy power and sticky highways, skies full of skycars drizzling contrails of brown foam, fizzing columns of fizz arcing spaceward to human colonies on Luna, Mars, and beyond! There are no limits to what we will be able to achieve, to accomplish with our diet beverages and chewy mint candies! The first step is a mere 221 feet--but that's only the first step. Just as the Wright brothers only flew a few hundred feet at Kitty Hawk, so too it is only natural that the first taste of limitless energy only propels a vehicle a short distance before the power source... well, fizzles out. The heavy, short range powered glider of the Wrights evolved quickly into the supersonic jet, much as the massive, building-sized ENIAC evolved into the laptop or netbook you're carting around under your arm; so, too, can we look forward to the day when you can eat half a Mento and drop the other half into a 12-ounce can of Coke Zero, and hold in your hands the power of the stars.

The time is coming. Trust me.

(H/T to Alan Boyle at Cosmic Log for the video!
And also to Wikipedia for the link to the New Scientist article!)


Nathan Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:58:00 AM EDT  

Two things:

First -- it's really scary that, towards the end there, you actually start to sound like you might be making sense. D'oh!

Second -- you overlook one real benefit. Cars spewing MCZ exhaust will drastically reduce incidences of tailgating. Win!

timb111 Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 3:15:00 PM EDT  

No, no NO! It won't work in the long run. The law of scarcity applies here. Yes, initially we can fuel our transportation needs using diet beverages and mentos, but what happens when people no longer can drink diet beverages and they switch to sugared drinks instead? They gain weight. Now with 500 lb. people we need even more diet beverages and mentos, the result. More weight gain.

So while initially your idea works, as you can see in the long run it not only increases our dependence on foreign soda it also greatly increases health problems and inevitably results in the downfall of Western civilization.

Eric Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 3:53:00 PM EDT  

Argh! timb111 has a valid point! It's like the way mass increases as you accelerate to luminal speeds, requiring more reaction mass which feeds a vicious cycle!

We have to figure out a way to keep people from drinking sodas! Maybe we can convince them to start drinking a cocktail of seawater and unrefined oil? I think I know a place where it's practically floating out there right in the open for anyone to skim up. We can tell them it tastes just like Gulf shrimp, they won't be able to tell the difference....

John the Scientist Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 7:34:00 PM EDT  

No, no, no, no, no! timb111 has it all wrong. Diet drinks cause weight gain (seriously). So you'll be doing the world a favor and helping slim down the population by getting rid of that evil aspartame in the food supply.

Win, win!

timb111 Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 7:52:00 PM EDT  

John the Scientist,

Wow, interesting link. I suspected something like that may be the case. Do you know if anyone has replicated the study?

jogma: What you really should be doing to lose weight instead of drinking diet soda.

John the Scientist Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:08:00 PM EDT  

It's been replicated in about 5 studies. What I want now is some biochemical mechanism for the "fooling the body" hyposthesis to be carefully laid down. In medical research, due to sloppy methodology or statistical weirdness of living things, you get a lot of false postitives. That's why REAL doctors talk about "science-based medicine" i.e. clinical observations backed up by basic biology, rather thatn "evidence based medicine" which is purely based on clinical observations.

Eric Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 10:50:00 PM EDT  

So we've agreed that Coke Zero will become rocket fuel and sodas will go back to oldschool recipe cane sugar?

I can live with that. :)

But seriously--I actually have switched to Coke Zero over regular Coke--because the fact was, I wasn't going to stop drinking a soda with lunch or occasionally using a soda to give me a caffeine boost, and it struck me I'd be marginally healthier reducing sucrose intake. True, I may be killing my liver, inducing cancer or causing other health problems, but the way I look at it, I could be hit by a truck while using the crosswalk in front of the courthouse that nobody actually stops for. Death, much like life, happens; I'm not looking forward to it these days, but there's a lot less I can actually do about it than anyone seems to think.

O'course, in the future we can have our Coke Zero and drink it, too: it'll literally be falling out of the sky and running in the streets... only it'll be a lot mintier! Kind of like Heaven.

timb111 Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 11:40:00 PM EDT  


Regarding Science Based Medicine, I ran into this post while catching up on my Respectful Insolence reading just now: The physician-scientist: An endangered species?

John the Scientist Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:53:00 AM EDT  

timb11 - Orac (David Gorski) is one of the constributors to SBM I like the most.

John the Scientist Friday, June 4, 2010 at 11:57:00 AM EDT  

Eric, depending on how much you drink, the sugared stuff can be marginally healthier than the non-sugared stuff on weight gain and CV issues (the oncology stuff is highly dose-dependent and otherwise subject to a lot of inter-subject variability).

If you drink more than 2 sodas a day (and I do), it's better to switch back to the sugared stuff. I notice that the caffeine effects are enhanced by the sugar, so I need to drink less to stay awake, and I did notice a drop in sugar hunger once I switched back off the Coke Zero. I was drinking about 4 a day, I'm down to one sugared Coke a day, with the occasional second if I'm driving late at night.

John the Scientist Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 10:31:00 PM EDT  

Eric, timb111, I've done a little digging into the diest soda issue. From what I've read so far, there are a lot of theories, none of which has a solid biochemical basis, nor a good prospective clincial trial to support them.

The theory that insulin rises after a meal including an artificial sweetener is not born out in a number of studies - but those are mostly post-prandial.

This study indicates that both sugar and sugar substitutes stimulate insulin production via taste alone. If that is the case, then the studies on post-prandial gucose may not me measiring the effects at the right time point.

This article, gives me enough concern that I advise you to read it. Based on that article and my own family history of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, I'm going to drastically reduce my own sucralose / aspartame intake.

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