Halloween is just around the corner and can’t help but to be excited for this year’s Friday Halloween. The last time Halloween was on a Friday was in 2011, which was when I first came to UBC as a freshman. My friends and I were super hyped to celebrate this first “legal” social event and decided to go out to a bar. We ordered gin and tonic pretending to be grown-ups, like what we had seen in movies. What we did not expect was it glowing in fluorescent blue! It turned out that the bar we went to was using black lights in spirit of Halloween and that there are some physics going on behind the glass.
Source: Youtube by Jim Jesus
Tonic water used in the typical ‘gin and tonic’ drinks is carbonated soft drink containing quinine. This quinine, a natural white crystalline alkaloid, in turns contain phosphors, which is what ultimately contributes to the fluorescent glowing as it reacts with the ultraviolet (UV) light.
UV light is an invisible component of electromagnetic spectrum with relatively high energy. A black light, such as the one used in that bar we went to, emits UV light that can illuminate objects and materials that contain phosphors. Phosphors and the structure of quinine molecule in tonic water enable the intake of energy in the form of invisible ultraviolet light and immediately emit some of that same energy in the form of now-visible fluorescent blue light that we are seeing. This is the same principle used for your highlighters!
I found these daily-life science discoveries very amusing and still remember it to these days. In remembrance of this personal amusement, I am suggesting all of you to try this fun fluorescent drink for Halloween, or perhaps, go further to discover something even more surprising. Isn’t that what science is all about after all? Happy Halloween everyone 🙂
Source: Flickr Commons
By Sunny Sohn
The desire to stay youthful for many women has been consistent; hence keeping a youthful skin has also been a consistent concern. Thus it really disturbs me that the beauty market nowadays targets and takes advantage of these worries to sell skin products with false advertisements at shockingly expensive prices. FALSE advertisement, that’s right. Many different brands flaunt their new line of creams with this magical molecule “collagen,” which can apparently make skin plumped-up, smoother, and younger.
This is complete nonsense. It is a cold hard fact that collagen molecules are just too large to be absorbed through tiny pores of skin. It will have no benefits to skin when it is being applied in such way. Let’s take a closer look at collagen.
Collagen itself is a protein present in all body’s organs and connective tissues and mainly functions to sustain tendons, cartilage, and skin. It provides firmness and elasticity to skin and thus making it true that increasing collagen levels in body will increase the chance of skin staying more youthful. This is the scientific reasoning behind those false advertisements.
However, it is critical to note that this is only true when we increase level of collagen by eating the right, healthy food or by taking collagen supplements, but not by applying those collagen-containing creams on our faces. Like I said before, collagen molecules are too large to be absorbed through the pores of our skin, and even if the skin could absorb them, we have to remember that collagens are proteins naturally made inside our body. They would be completely “dead” and inactive by the time we rub them onto the skin. The only reason why your expensive collagen cream feels nice is because it gives cream its consistency.
Let us not forget that including collagen in skin care products is just another way of marketing. This had been proven quite a while ago, but many still seem to be unaware of this. So remember this and do not waste your time and money on collagen-containing creams, everyone! Why don’t we all try eating more soy products, vegetables, and fruits instead?
By Sunny Sohn
Collagen image: http://eyeonicr.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/soft-tissues-and-logical-fallacies/
Fruits and Vegetables image: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/20-incredible-facts-about-eating-fruits-and-vegetables-that-you-probably-didnt-know.html
Posted in Biological Sciences, Issues in Science, Science Communicators, Science in the News
Tagged beauty, collagen, healthy, marketing, pore, Science Communication, skin, skin care, youthful
Science is serious. Science is structured. Science is stiff. And science is boring.
Source1: AGU Blogosphere, by Olivia V. Ambrogio
This is how many people think of science when it comes down to the subject. It is common for non-scientists to feel constraint about this field, and I have seen many of my friends cringing reflexively when I tell them that I major in it. Troubles of communicating science seamlessly start with these stereotypes. Although it cannot be denied that some parts of it could be seen serious and structured at times, science is not always hard to understand and is definitely not always about life or death situations. It is a great disappointment to see people refusing to acknowledge science as a part of daily life.
Source2: I F*cking Love Science
Thus, it got me excited to see science becoming more accessible and approachable through various social media such as facebook, tweeter, industry films, and drams. For example, facebook and tweeter have many webpages that posts 9GAGs and cartoon clips that explain scientific happenings and phenomena in a humourous and eye-catching way, and people often “like” or “re-tweet” these posts to share with their friends and acquaintances. It is also common to see film industry including science scenes within their storylines nowadays. But above all, I believe that the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, which portrays daily lives of 4 scientists and engineer, contributed the most in interpenetrating science to the public and giving science “a sense of being.” It delivers science in the humourous episodes and really contributes in communicating science with the audience in a friendly and fun manner by applying random science facts into comical and easily emphasized situations. It is acting as a bridge between the world of science and the public, which enhances understandings of each other.
The jokes are not always the most brilliant, I admit, but are enough to capture the audiences’ interest. To me, that is a good enough start. For instance, there has been a report that shows there has been a 10 percent increase in a number of students accepted into Physics at universities between 2008-09, which was then The Big Bang Theory first broadcasted. It is evident that this sitcom has successfully sparked the interest of many about science and enhanced its approachability through communicating with the public. Really, who would say no to a bit of scientific humour along with the four lovable characters?
By Sunny Sohn
Sources/credits for images and video:
Youtube Video: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOFjhB62omGJFUUQnCyJhTw by Ronald Borla
Posted in Issues in Science, Public Engagement, Science Communicators
Tagged 9GAG, Communication, Controversy, Engineer, I F*cking Love Science, Nerd, Science, Science Communication, Scientist, Social Media, Stereotype, The Big Bang Theory