Clever cock­tail

Focus-Science and Technology - - REPLY - @allchanges What about Old Mice ? @paul­mur­phy68 That’s BRU­Tal!

Two ar­ti­cles in your March is­sue came to­gether to solve two kitchen ques­tions for me in a de­li­cious way.

I love hot chocolate and am sold on the health ben­e­fits of turmeric. In Michael Mosley’s ar­ti­cle on turmeric (March, p28), he re­ported that cook­ing with it is much bet­ter than tak­ing a sup­ple­ment. Adding fat and heat­ing it up might make turmeric eas­ier for the body to ab­sorb. I’ve tried mak­ing ‘golden milk’ with turmeric but it’s hard to get the turmeric to dis­solve with­out ex­tra steps.

A few pages later in the is­sue was He­len Cz­er­ski’s ar­ti­cle on how to get co­coa pow­der to dis­solve to make good hot chocolate (p87). Bingo! I added a tea­spoon of turmeric to a ta­ble­spoon of co­coa pow­der in a pan with a lit­tle bit of non-dairy co­conut creamer (be­cause I am ve­gan). I slowly squished the pow­ders side­ways into the warm creamer as she de­scribed and they dis­solved to­gether nicely. I added some sweet­ener and enough al­mond milk to make a good-sized cup of hot chocolate. It was easy and yummy. Thanks!

Nancy Reed, NY

Plan­e­tary MOT

Re­gard­ing your ar­ti­cles on whether we should in­ter­vene and do some­thing di­rectly to coun­ter­act cli­mate change (April, p70), I agree with Peter Irvine that we should. If you have an ac­ci­dent and dam­age your car, you take steps to re­duce the risk of it hap­pen­ing again, but you also fix the car. In the same way, we have had an ac­ci­dent with the Earth due to our own ig­no­rance. There­fore, as well as tak­ing steps to pre­vent fur­ther over­heat­ing we should fix the Earth and cool it down by geo­engi­neer­ing.

Roy Caswell, Bolton

Cheese it

In re­sponse to Michael Mosley’s ar­ti­cle ‘Is it okay to cut out cow’s milk?’ (May, p27), I find drink­ing milk and soft cheeses up­sets my di­ges­tive sys­tem, as does any­thing with whey in it. How­ever, I do en­joy hard cheeses like Ched­dar which does not up­set my sys­tem. Would eat­ing a rea­son­able amount of hard cheese help keep up my io­dine in­take in the same way milk does?

John New­ton, via email

The good thing about cheese, par­tic­u­larly hard, ma­ture cheese like Ched­dar, is that un­like milk it is rel­a­tively low in lac­tose and there­fore un­likely to trig­ger symp­toms in some­one with lac­tose in­tol­er­ance. Un­for­tu­nately, it is not very high in io­dine. Ac­cord­ing to the British Di­etetic As­so­ci­a­tion, an adult needs about 150200 mi­cro­grams (mcg) a day of io­dine. Be­low I have listed the sort of amounts you would get in dif­fer­ent foods. If you find you’re run­ning short, try

top­ping up with yoghurt or fish ( prefer­ably cod or had­dock). 100ml cow’s milk (50mcg); 100g yoghurt (50mcg); 100g had­dock (320mcg); 100g cod (200mcg); 40g hard cheese (15mcg). – Dr Michael Mosley, BBC Fo­cus colum­nist

Emo­tional roller­coaster

The idea that the brain con­stantly tries to pre­dict what is about to hap­pen and makes prepa­ra­tions, but some­times gets these wrong (May, p42) is no sur­prise, and tells us noth­ing about what emo­tions ac­tu­ally are. A ma­chine could be made to pre­dict dan­ger and make prepa­ra­tions, but would it care?

Ma­chines and sim­ple an­i­mals fol­low au­to­matic pro­grams, which is fine un­til the en­vi­ron­ment changes. Free will and emo­tions evolved to en­able an­i­mals to be more adapt­able. And you need both. Free will with­out emo­tion is no good, you can do what you want but you wouldn’t want any­thing. Emo­tions and no free will would be a night­mare, you would want things but wouldn’t be able to do any­thing about it.

Which is all in­ter­est­ing but still doesn’t shed any light on what emo­tions ac­tu­ally are. It is im­pos­si­ble to de­scribe an emo­tion, ex­cept with ref­er­ence to other emo­tions, and/or to a be­ing who also ex­pe­ri­ences emo­tions. It seems in­con­ceiv­able that a ma­chine would ever be able to feel an­noyed, or jeal­ous, or em­bar­rassed!

Hu­man emo­tions prob­a­bly boil down to feel­ing good or feel­ing bad, along with all the sub­tleties around why we feel good or bad. A ma­chine could com­pute which emo­tion would be right for a par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion, but could it ever feel ‘good’ or ‘bad’? Could it suf­fer? Maybe self-aware­ness is the key: if an AI could be­come self-aware, maybe it would be able to suf­fer. But we could never be sure, be­cause we’d never know ex­actly what it feels like to be that AI! Henry Parr, Frome

Mean­while over on Twit­ter…

@Mar­cuschown “Big cats are at­tracted to af­ter­shave. Their favourite fragrance is Calvin Klein’s Ob­ses­sion” says @sci­ence­fo­cus. Surely it should be Lynx!

Ad­vice from He­len Cz­er­ski and Michael Mosley helped Nancy make a cup of turmer­ic­spiked hot chocolate

Sea­weed and kelp can be a good source of io­dine, and of­ten fea­ture in Asian di­ets

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