Things that Bother Science Geeks

Okay, these are things that bother one science geek, namely me.

1. Synthetic motor oil. What is it?

Oil is a starting point in organic synthesis, not an ending point. What what is synthetic oil made from? It’s advertised as being better for cars than regular motor oil, but they never say why. Freaky.

2. Digital electric motors. I confess, this comes from a particular commercial for a hand-held vacuum. But I know how electric motors work. They convert electricity (which isn’t digital) to motion (which isn’t digital), where where does the digital part come in?

I’m inclined to chalk this up to marketing puffery. Puffery is a legal term (yes, really) for over-the-top claims, such as the recent Dairy Queen ad stating, “We don’t just blow bubbles, we blow bubbles with kittens in them.”

3. I recently heard some idiot on a cable news channel say that ethanol fuel drove up food prices, because it took corn out of the food supply. It doesn’t, but it takes the sugar that pigs and cows can’t digest out of the 50+% of the corn crop used for animal feed and returns the distillers grain (a better grade of feed) to the livestock food supply.

4. Last weekend, a massage therapist assured me she only buys sugar made from sugar cane, as if it’s not exactly the same molecule that comes out of sugar beets. Sucrose is sucrose, and we all eat way too much of it. The glucose half of the molecule is okay (your body runs on glucose, after all), but the fructose half converts to fat right in your liver. Don’t make me show you the biochemistry equations.

There, I feel much better now. Thank you for letting me vent.

1 comment so far

  1. justajoe on

    You’re welcome. Your vent is noted. Now to answer what I can;

    1. Synthoil is better is because it’s cleaner, in a molecular sense. Regardless of the source substance (of which I am unaware of a particular one), it’s been re-polymerized with specific properties tuned to the needs of an internal combustion engine, and it has far fewer impurities, such as sulfur, which contribute to corrosion and ‘sludge’, a truly technical term, in and of the engine.

    2. ‘Digitial’ motors are also known as stepper motors because they are designed to ‘step’ through the rotation based on digital (1/0/-1) pulses of voltage. Essentially the rotor has ‘stops’ instead of being a smooth bearing. By varying the rate of the pulses, the motor speed can be controlled closely based on the needs of the situation. Push a pulse, step the motor. Is it puffery? Depends on the phrasing. Is it useful? Absolutely.

    3. Dunno. Real economics seems rather like statistics: Ask the right question, use the right ‘formula’ get the answer you want.

    4. Nice to have a serious chem background. No?

    be well

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