Thursday, September 09, 2004

Mmmm. Very Complex Multi-Phase System.

What is your favorite flavor of very complex multi-phase system? I'm not especially particular; I like almost all of them. I especially like chocolaty ones with chocolate chunks in chocolate, though.

Fortunately, for all of us who relish ice cream, scientists have been working hard to understand and improve it. Food engineering professor Rich Hartel offers this analysis: "Half of ice cream is air in the form of air cells. About two thirds of it is in the form of ice crystals. So it's a foam, it's a dispersion, [and] it's an emulsion—about twelve percent of ice cream is in the form of fat that's spread out in small globules. It's a very complex multi-phase system."

The same story linked to above describes how science has begun to make ice cream still more delicious. Of the food engineering innovations described, one especially caught my attention: Using ice-inhibiting proteins from winter wheat to help make ice cream extra creamy.

What, apart from the inherent delights of creamy goodness, makes that notable? It turns out that cryonicists worry a great deal about inhibiting ice crystals. Fewer ice crystals gives your patient a better suspension, which in turn increases the likelihood of the patient’s successful revival. It would surely help the development of such life-saving technologies if, as Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution suggests, someone would establish something like an X Prize for cryonics. If we can encourage the proper scientific research, we might look forward to enjoying better ice cream now and still better ice cream in the far, far future.


Anonymous said...

That was a funny post in a ghoulish sort of way. It may prompt Ben & Jerry's to come out with a new flavour sure to be hit--Dead Chunky Monkey. The name is a turnoff but the afterlife ...err aftertaste, as you suggest, will be heavenly (and eternal)!


Tom W. Bell said...

I guess I can see how you might regard cryonics as ghoulish, Trumpit. Still, though, I regard it as far less ghoulish than the alternative.