By Hamish Johnston
How do you cook the perfect steak? Materials scientist Mark Miodownik of University College London has the answer. To cook his medium-rare steak (pink in the middle with a seared coating on the outside), Miodownik first seals the steak in a vacuum bag and places it in a warm water bath until it reaches 55 °C. He then dips it in liquid nitrogen for 30 s to chill the outer layer without freezing the middle. If that wasn’t unconventional enough, he then throws it into a deep-fat fryer containing duck fat. The result? “A lusciously seared steak, medium rare all the way through. And not a pan in sight!” says Miodownik. The BBC has put together a nice animation of the recipe: “What’s the weirdest way to cook a steak?”.
I have a lot of respect for the American TV presenter Bill Nye “The Science Guy”, who has done a great service to society by making science more accessible to the general public. Experience tells me that it is not easy to distil a complicated concept like quantum entanglement into a two-minute video. Sometimes, though, it’s better not to even try – and I suspect Nye now wishes he had avoided the tricky topic of entanglement in his latest series of videos.
Over on her Backreaction blog, Sabine Hossenfelder takes exception to a video clip in which Nye tries to answer the question “How will quantum mechanics change the world?”. It’s painful to watch, mostly because Nye rambles on without saying much of substance. As for what he does say about physics, I’ll let Hossenfelder explain why she has asked Nye to “Please stop talking nonsense about quantum mechanics”.
If you have watched the space thriller The Martian recently, then you will be aware of the struggles of living on the red planet. As well as the obvious challenges of radiation, manoeuvring around the rocky terrain and living in a low-gravity environment, Listverse has come up with “10 obscure issues that hinder manned missions to Mars”.
One issue is the static electricity from the dry Martian soil, which means that astronauts would have to wear insulating space suits. “Just by walking around on Mars, an astronaut could accumulate a static charge strong enough to fry delicate electronics,” Sam Derwin writes. Other problems include storing the fuel needed to return to Earth, as well as the fact that Martian soil contains perchlorate salts – a toxic substance. So what is Derwin’s number one obscure challenge for living on Mars? Romances between astronauts. “At the end of the day, humans need physical contact and intimacy. But while that sounds sweet and romantic, it can also end badly,” he says.