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
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
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
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