As a result of being both intensely curious and fabulously nerdy, I tend to think about random things a lot. This results in a fact or question filtering into my mental filing system, and giving birth to a spontaneous hypothesis, built on little more than speculation. I will be storing these in this post, and future posts under th “hypothesis” category. Read the rest of this entry »


On Paradox

I call myself an atheist, one who lacks belief in gods, and at the same time, I call myself a Discordian, one who worships and honors the randomness and absurdity inherent in all things, personified as the Greek goddess Eris. Does anyone see the issue here?

The thing is, there really isn’t a problem. I may call myself a Discordian, but at the end of  the day, I recognize that I revere a principle more than any personality, and I mostly find it useful as a motivation and explanation for my behavior.

The even shorter version is that I am morally Discordian, but not in terms of faith. I hope. The truth is, I find myself thanking Zeus for most things that go right, and Tzeentch in cases of traffic. I wonder if perhaps I need a religious framework in order to function, which raises the question of Why. I have two primary hypotheses. First, perhaps my Catholic upbringing has inculcated a sense of need in me (hypothesis a). I might merely have been trained in religion, which would make me act in a religious manner. The second hypothesis is that I might have some “flaw” in me which necessitates religion(hypothesis b). It is possible that I am biologically predisposed toward religion.

The testing of these two hypotheses will take many years, and be difficult for me to do on my own. It would require me to objectively quantify my religious behaviors and record their trend over time. I would have to determine the predictions from each hypothesis, and measure the relative success  of those predictions over time. I shall attempt to begin doing that now.

The simplest prediction, which covers both, is that over time, my religious tendencies will either hold steady, or decrease. If they decrease, it is more likely that hypothesis a is correct, and that it’s all in my head. If they remain at the same level, AND I’m working to decrease them, it is more likely that hypothesis b  is correct. If I have made no effort to curb my religious tendencies, then them remaining the same is no indication either way, while a decrease still indicates an environmental source of these tendencies.

Despite wandering heavily, this is still more coherent than my average thought process.

Science in ACTION!

With any luck, I’ll be able to make a regular series out of this. If I am, it will be about applying the scientific method to real life situations.

Yesterday, I was searching for textbooks in my boxes, when I came upon two packets of Easy Mac. I knew right away that this was not the freshest stuff, since  it was given to me when my roommate’s girlfriend moved to Oregon, January of 2006. After a moment’s consideration, I hypothesized that “Easy Mac doesn’t go bad.”

If uncooked, pasta will last for ages. Most sources say one or two years is the expected shelf life of uncooked pasta, but this is Kraft we’re talking about here. Sealed in plastic bags on the factory floor, I imagine these noodles will last much longer than their less industrial brethren. Also, previous observation has shown that Kraft singles mostly just harden when left out, and don’t actually lose much in terms of flavor (I was a curious child with low hygenic standards). The cheese flavor is in powder form, and so has virtually no moisture to begin with, and is also well sealed. It’s entirely possible that virtually no “food content” is present in either of these elements. Thus we form the hypothesis.

The testing stage was next, so the Easy Mac was prepared according to the instructions on the packet, and eaten. At this stage, I was forced to revise the hypothesis to “Easy Mac does not go worse.” Still edible, though, and none of it vacated immediately from either end of the digestive tract, so I chalked it up as a success for culinary experimentation.

Today, while searching to see if I had anything else hiding about, I found five more bags! I could do more testing without having to buy more Easy Mac! This time, however, I deviated from the instructions a bit. I added half the cheese powder before the water, of which I used less, and the rest shortly before finishing. It tasted much better this time, meaning I’m going to have to test it again tomorrow, and the day after to see if it’s the individual batches, or if the preparation method has an influence.


1)This is decidedly unscientific.  I have no intention of going out and getting more Easy Mac, so we may never have “fresh” product to compare with. Also, three trials isn’t really much to work with. Finally, I didn’t even make an attempt at quantification of the “goodness” of the Easy Mac.

2) The only date I could find on the packages is “19 Feb 2006 XCN 14:01”. I thought this was a manufacture date (having a timestamp and all) but then I realized that this date was after my roommates girlfriend left Arizona. It must, therefore, be an expiration date, or something even more arcane. Sell by? Ship by? No clue. There appears to be a similar date on the cheese package, which reads “5167XCN 09:49” which is only interpretable (to me) as either May 16 ’07 or July 16 ’07. Not knowing what the XCN means, I’ve no clue which is more reasonable. The ’05 interpretation is certainly better for horror stories, though.

3) I never measure water when cooking this sort of thing.

4) Two packets were used for both tests, and will also be used for tomorrow’s test. Thursday’s test will be with one packet.