Sandwiches and Food Research

I recently ran across this site called Scanwiches which I found unique. I'm not sure if it was that inspiration nudging me subconsciously, or just the fact that I found a cheap produce store on my way to and from work.

Here is yesterday's red lettuce, tofu sauteed in garlic and olive oil, tomato, avocado, cucumber, red onion, jalapeno, and hummus sandwich on toasted wheat bread. It ended up at about 3" thick once I put on the top piece of bread and compressed it.

And here is today's romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, spinach, onion, red pepper, jalapeno, olive oil, and guacamole on toasted wheat bread.

It may be worth mentioning that lettuce and spinach make a sandwich look much more substantive than they really are - in terms of volume, not nutrition at. Of course this is the point. The mechanisms by which your brain tells you that you are full can be tricked. In this case your eyes are telling your brain there's a lot more calories and volume there than there really is. There's some really great work done by a guy named Brian Wansink on eating behavior. In one of his studies a soup bowl is designed to refill itself via a tube running underneath the table. Participants in his studies would unknowingly eat about 3/4 more soup simply because they could never finish. He has a plethora of elucidating experiments like this.

Among his other tips are to not eat directly out of containers as you tend to not recognize how much you're eating (about 1/3 more). Also, use smaller plates, you'll end up eating less and feel just as full. Here's a great new study he did on family style serving.

Reading for Monday

Apparently Dubai is a slave state run by dictators. It's a long read but if it's all true then it's worth it. Here's a blogger from Dubai who says otherwise. (HT: Freakonomics)

New experiments suggest that amino acids form and replicate with greater frequency than previously believed. Basically it's saying that the formation of life may not be so uncommon after all. The same ten amino acids that keep coming up in the experiments are also commonly found in meteorites that crash into earth... hm.

I've been reading a lot of GOOD Magazine recently which is really... good. The article below is features that crazy smart crazy dude I wrote about before, Raymond Kurzweil. He says just enough stuff that makes sense... but he also seems insane. The article deals with the future of transportation.

This is a short fascinating piece about unintended consequences due to restrictions. (HT: Freakonomics again)

On Forbes Sudhir Venkatesh, the sociologist featured in Freakonomics and who wrote Gang Leader for a Day, is profiled. He talks about poverty, the sex trade, and other marginalized segments of society. Great quote near the end: "[He] dismisses the 'culture of poverty' theory, which suggests that poor blacks in America don't work because they don't value employment. 'People in America want to work,' he says. They do so ever so industriously, even when they're breaking the law."

Mmmm Free Information

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." - Thomas Jefferson

When I first read that it struck me how readily the internet can disseminate ideas, papers, research studies, music, television, movies, books, etc. to one person or 6.7 billion for essentially the same price of free. The amazing thing of course being that Jefferson called it over 200 years ago, but not in some clairvoyant sense but rather because it is an intrinsic property of ideas that they have transaction costs approaching zero and are infinitely scalable. The entirety of Jefferson's letter can be viewed here.


Wikileaks released about a billion dollars worth of research enacted by Congress since 1990.

I've read about projects to make government and private university funded research accessible to the public, but it still remains difficult to search through the current scientific literature. Here's the best article I could find on the subject. To find academic papers for free you can either visit your local library and log on to JSTOR or you can just search on Google Scholar. It seems very counter productive to spend so much time and (public) money on a research study then keep the results hidden behind large fees and access codes. If you were a researcher wouldn't you want people to see your results? The less people have to work to get at this information the more widely it will be read and implemented. The same concept is used to make a web page more effective. By reducing the number of pages a visitor has to click through to get somewhere web traffic increases. Come on acadamea - drag your big brains out from under that rock.