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What Einstein Didn't Know

Scientific Answers to Everyday Questions

Robert Wolke

US doesn't use metric system except for soft drinks (2L bottle) and "fifths" which are now 750ml, as opposed to the 757ml they were when they were a fifth of a gallon.

Steam, as in from boiling water, is an invisible gas - water molecules flying around. The whitish cloud you see is fog, tiny droplets of liquid water suspended in the air.

Need to cook meats at at least 82°ree;C to kill off most bacteria. Poaching just another word for simmering, coddling is when put an egg in boiling water then turn off heat. No standard measure of 'simmering' temperature - what you have to do is carefully adjust heat so that small bubbles only occasionally reach the surface.

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Toast comes from Roman word tostus for scorch. But toaster yet to be invented which always toasts your bread just right. The setting is purely a timer, so toast affected by whether elements already hot, or by dryness of bread slices.

Best toast? Jonathan Swift's "May you live all the days of your life"

40.000 different varieties of rice. Classed as short grain (under 5 mm), medium (5 or 6 mm) or long (7mm). The length coincides with amount of starch they have, and so how behave when cooked. Short grained rice is mainly a type of starch which absorbs lot of water, so get sticky rice of Asia. American long grain rice doesn't hold lot of water, so get fluffy individual grains. Sushi uses medium grain rice which is just sticky enough to mould into shapes. So when cooking long grian rice, need only add same amount of water, but with short grain need to double quantity of water. But if making paella, you need bomba rice, a short grain that absorbs three times the water (or actually the flavored broth) you are cooking it in.

When microwaving veges, the more water you cook them in, the more nutrients will extract from the vege into the water. For broccoli or cauliflower, put in covered container and cook on high for 3 - 4 minutes. They will cook in their own steam, and retain most nutrients.

Shredded Wheat was invented by Henry Perky, who was looking for a cure for his diarrhea. He had a brother named Herky.

Spraying water on yr plants to protect against frost: insulation of a thin sheet of ice is effectively nil. What happens is that the freezing water gives up heat (80 calories per kg) which the leaves absorb.

Strong winds don't chill you by evaporating yr perspiration - sweat disappears in first few gusts. What is happening is that your skin heats the molecules of air around it, giving up a bit of body heat as it does. If the wind whips that warmed air molecule away, body has to heat the next molecule, losing a bit more heat each time.

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