Monday, August 2, 2010

Relevant science for a summer party

I've been busy. I would like to say that I've been enjoying the wonderful Vancouver summer, but in academia, summer rhymes with grant writing. This means that I spend most of my days writing up long-winded research proposals that describe the exciting science I'd carry out if only (insert name of funding agency) would give me the (insert large amounts of money) I need. Of course, each funding agency (usually charitable organizations or government organizations) has slightly different requirements. One wants an 11-page proposal in New Times Roman font in size 12 with the references as part of the proposal. The other wants an 14-page proposal in Arial font size 11 with the references in an appendix. So on and so forth. So yeah, buckets of fun.

Interestingly, trying to convince others that my brilliant ideas should be funded also makes me wonder how other types of research get funded. Since this is the summer and I'm sure you'd prefer some light reading, I thought I'd share a little gem of an article on a topic of utmost importance that really illustrates my point about funding: the best possible way to... Pour champagne.

French researchers (who else?) looked closely at two different ways of pouring champagne into a champagne glass (a flute): (1) the traditional way, which consists of letting champagne fall vertically and hit the bottom of the flute, thus generating a thick head of foam, and (2) the "beer-like" way, which consists of pouring the champagne on an inclined flute wall, which generates less foam. The researchers analyzed a number of parameters such as the concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide and the temperature of the champagne. As it turns out, serving champagne chilled (4-12 degrees Celsius) in the beer-like way minimizes the loss of dissolved carbon dioxide, a parameter of utmost importance since it impacts various aspects of the champagne-tasting experience. The researchers stress the value of their research and call for revisiting the traditional way of serving champagne, especially when champagnes are to be compared in competitions.

Wow. Seriously, who funds this? And most importantly, why is it that some researchers have all the fun? The fine print tells us that the researchers "thank Champagne Pommery for regularly supplying (them) with various champagne samples". I think I missed my calling.

Reference: On the losses of dissolved CO2 during champagne serving. (2010) Liger-Belair et al. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. [Epub ahead of print].

2 Responses to “Relevant science for a summer party”

kate said...

Haha - I'm so glad you wrote about this article! Although, I'm not completely convinced of their findings, I think we should do a few independent experiments to confirm...

Heh, thank you for the head's up! And I absolutely agree with the need for extra experiments...

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