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Formaldehyde:  Not Just for Dead Things

Next spring I'm teaching a course on the physical chemistry of food while a colleague is teaching a course on the analytical chemistry of foodstuffs. Among other science texts we'll be using John Coupland's Introduction to the Physical Chemistry of Food, but I'm also collecting short pieces to put some of the work into a historical and social context.

Though these days we tend to think of chemists as the untrustworthy creators of toxic, artificial everything, the systematic training of chemists was driven in part by the desire for the public to know what was in their food and water. In 19th century Britain, hundreds of chemists made their living testing the purity of everything from butter to well water. So when the Food Babe tells you there is something "yucky" in your food, the reason we know it is there is some chemist developed a careful protocol for its analysis, and other chemists tested the material.

Read the whole thing at The Culture of Chemistry.

Oremus:  Let us Pray

In some sense the Prayers of the Faithful are rightfully ephemeral prayers, for the needs of this particular moment, for the needs of these particular people. But I wonder if we treat them too lightly. We subscribe to a set of intercessions for daily Mass, each page tidily tossed in the recycling when it's been prayed. Do we remember any of the prayers from this Sunday's Mass? Or do we just respond, "Lord, hear our prayer." regardless of whether the lector just read the first line of a grocery list. (I confess, I went last night and had to think hard to recall two or three — and I wrote the first draft of this set!)
Read the whole thing at Quantum Theology.