The Chemistry of Cookies (Yum!)

In a video animation through Ted-Ed, Stephanie Warren explained the basic chemical reactions that take place when baking cookies.

“Don’t let that apron deceive you. Bakers are mad scientists. When you put the raw cookie dough into the oven, you’re setting off a series of chemical reactions.”

When the dough is placed in to the oven and reaches 92 degF, the butter begins to melt, causing the dough to start spreading out. Butter is an emulsion, which is a mixture of two substances that do not want to stay together. In butter’s instance, those two substances are water and fat. As the butter melts, water is released and expands into the cookie, pushing against the dough from the inside as it gets hotter.

The narrator then explains that the eggs used in the dough may have contained salmonella bacteria before cooking, which causes over 142,000 cases in the U.S. each year. The salmonella bacteria can live for weeks outside the body, until temperatures reaching 136 degF. When the dough reaches that temperature, the bacteria will die.

The next change begins with the proteins in the dough mostly provided by the eggs at 144 degF. When the protein is exposed to heat, then transform from string-like bunches into long strings that get tangled up, which is observed through a more solid yolk in the egg and more substance to the dough.

Water boils away at 212 degF, causing the cookie to dry out, stiffen, and crack. The backing soda reacts with acids in the dough to expand and create air pockets.

Want to learn more? More Cookie Chemistry can been seen in this video. Enjoy!


A Candy a Day Keeps the Dentist Away?

Maybe. Perhaps in the future.

Microbiologists in Berlin are at work trying to develop a candy that will cut back on tooth decay. They have developed a method to rid the mouth of cavity-causing bacteria with a sugarless mint riddled with dead bacteria. Yuck.

Although still in it’s early stages of development, the study done by Christine Lang, a researcher at Organobalance, has shown promising results with participants who sucked on this bacteria-laced mint by reducing the cavity-causing bacteria in their saliva.

Streptococcus mutans are the bacteria in our mouths responsible for turning sugars in our foods into tooth-dissolving acids. Lang and her team found Lactobacillus paracasei, bacteria found in yogurt and kefir, to have the potential to stop the Streptococcus bacteria, even when they’re dead.

Participants were given mint to suck on for 10 minutes. Their mouth bacteria levels were measured before and after administration. While there were signs of some of the Streptococcus bacteria disappearing, it was very minimal and researchers aren’t sure how long it lasts. In order to actually fight cavities, the have to more specifically fight bacteria on the plaque on teeth. But, the research shows promise.

Original article here


Buckeyethon – “For The Kids!”


This February I will participating in the Dance Marathon as a part of the philanthropic event Buckeyethon here at Ohio State. “With an ultimate goal of ending childhood cancer, BuckeyeThon works to raise money to support the kids treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.”

Funds raised through various events throughout the year, including the dance marathon, help alleviate costs of treatments that families cannot afford and to purchase items that the Hematology/Oncology/Blood and Marrow Transplant Department may need to further improve the quality of care they can provide.

Recently, I got a position as a research intern in a pediatric oncology lab at Nationwide Children’s Hospital where I will be working with a team of researchers investigating neuroblastoma, the most common infancy cancer. NCH is an amazing place doing great things for kids, so I can’t wait to start my work and make a difference!

In 2013, the Buckeyethon Dance Marathon raised over $600,000 in 24 hours! This year, I hope to contribute to that number. In order for me to participate, I need to raise at least $100. Please consider donating to my page here


Gene Therapy Offers New Hope to Cancer Patients

Leukemia patients at a Pennsylvania hospital were running out of options. They were told that traditional treatments such as chemotherapy would no longer work on their aggressive disease. So they turned to a small study being conducted at the University of Pennsylvania.

In the study, doctors genetically engineered their white blood cells and transfused them back into their bodies to fight the cancer cells. Dr. David Porter said, ” I think this is really a new paradigm in cancer treatment. This is really using a patient’s own immune cells to treat their own cancer.”

59 patients have been treated in the study so far. Many have shown significant improvement, and 25 are cancer free today. While doctors do not know for sure yet of this could be the answer to finding a cure, they do know this is the new frontier for fighting leukemia and other common cancers.

Watch the awesome video here.


My Boyfriend is Driving me “Insane!”

I’m not exactly sure why my boyfriend thought finals weeks was the absolute best time to reevaluate his health, but he did and decided to start the “Insanity” workout … oh, and he’s dragging me along for the ride, too.

“Insanity”was created by American fitness trainer Shaun T. He said, “When I created the INSANITY workout, I knew it would produce insane results in 60 days, but I wasn’t sure if anyone
was brave enough to try it. Turns out…there are a lot of crazy people out there. Crazy enough to actually enjoy doing the world’s most insanely tough workout. To like the feeling of being drenched in sweat…of going balls-to-the-wall for a full 45 minutes of muscle-searing exercise. Is INSANITY hard? Oh, yeah. It really IS the hardest workout ever put on DVD. It’s totally crazy…but it’s going to get you crazy-good results.” Uhm, sounds like torture to me.

The “Insanity” workout builds on the concept of “Max Interval Training” in which a person intensely works out for a 3-minute period each set then only rests for 30 seconds in between sets. It is a total body circuit training workout that uses only the body as resistance. The exercise schedule consists of 6 days a week, approximately 45 minutes a day.

It’s pretty much impossible to avoid infomercials about this workout or hearing someone talking about it, but DOES IT WORK? I don’t know. I’ll let you know in 55 days.

Oh, and if Dr. Oz approves, it must work, right?



Finals week is almost over. Which means, in the midst of cramming for that dreadful OChem exam (… I don’t want to talk about it) and writing paper after paper (after paper, after paper, after paper…) I found myself on StumbleUpon a bit too often. Let’s face it, it’s addicting and far more interesting than Diels-Alder reactions.

I came across this image from a digital-artist named Aegis-Strife during one of my many study breaks.


Thomas Hughes wrote in Human Built World about innovators during the 19th century who believed it was their divine mission to transform the untapped land of America into a technological Garden of Eden. On the other hand, Hughes also wrote of influential Americans that did not support the industrial revolution in fear of damaging the already Garden of Eden that is the wilderness.

Aegis-Strife’s image depicts the sentiment of the latter group that fears the destruction of nature by technology. In it, the beautiful nature women on the left weeps as the gun on the right adorned with factories and technology threatens her life.

Pretty cool image, huh?


Karl Pilkington’s Thoughts on Technology

I recently stumbled upon the Ricky Gervais Show and I confess that I can’t stop watching.

Essentially, each episode contains the audio of a podcast of an unscripted discussion between Ricky Gervais (the British comedian behind “The Office”) his co-writer Stephen Merchant and the “round-headed buffoon” Karl Pilkington.  Layered over the audio are animations related to the discussions.

In the two videos I’ve imbedded, Karl Pilkington gives his views on the place of technology.  Not that there is much of intellectual value here (inane conversations are actually the goal of the podcast.)  Maybe it will serve as a pick-me-up for finals week.