Sunday, August 24, 2008

Chocolate, Vanilla, and The Milky Way

Made for Each Other

Vanilla and chocolate together again
I have always loved vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce, but am sort of medium about buying chocolate ice cream. It just tastes better when the two meet in my bowl. I now know that I can thank the vanilla orchid, cacao beans, and the Aztecs.

Vanilla orchid - Vanilla tahitensis

Vanilla orchid - Vanilla tahitens

Origins of Vanilla

Vanilla (Vanilla tahitensis), that wonderfully spicy and sweet flavoring, is created from the vanilla orchid, the only edible orchid known. This version of the vanilla orchid is only found in cultivated gardens and growing wild in French Polynesia.

However, it has long been recognized that vanilla is a New World cultivar, and that it was likely first cultivated by the Maya beginning at least in the 14th century AD. Recent genetic studies have identified the progenitors of V. tahitensis as Vanilla planifolia and V. odorata, both plants tended by the Maya.

Processing Vanilla

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice available today (right after saffron), because the curing process takes between 6-9 months, and involves several labor-intensive heating and drying episodes. The Maya word for vanilla is zizbic, and it was used with copal resin as incense, and to treat insect bites and heal wounds. The Aztecs are thought to be the first to use vanilla in conjunction with the cacao bean to make the chocolate drink.

It was the Spanish who took vanilla to the rest of the world, most likely during the 16th century and most likely on their trade routes through the Philippine Islands.

A Star, (actually many stars), is Born.

Stars young and old glitter in the W5 star-forming region of the Milky Way.
The team behind NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is celebrating the orbiting observatory's fifth birthday. The view takes in an area of the sky equivalent to four full moons, 6,500 light-years from Earth, in one of our Milky Way's most picturesque stellar nurseries.

Coming to a roof near you.
In other scientific news; A quote from Schopenhauer, "All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident." This is displayed on the wall of Energy Innovations, a solar energy company that is using photovoltaic cells from space vehicles in down to earth applications. They have developed solar arrays that magnify the suns light onto the same kind of chips that are used to power satellites and Mars landers.
This will help eliminate coal fired energy plants that spew stuff out of their stacks, like the atmosphere is a sewer.

NASA destroys rocket after failed launch

Agency warned that debris from the explosion could be hazardous

WALLOPS ISLAND, Virginia. - NASA destroyed an unmanned experimental rocket carrying a pair of research satellites Friday when it veered off course shortly after an early morning liftoff.

There were no injuries or confirmed reports of property damage, according to NASA, but the agency warned that debris from the explosion could be hazardous. NASA believes most of the wreckage fell into the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia coast.

Video of rocket blowing up and falling into Atlantic ocean.

Ah, no problem. The hazardous debris is in the ocean.

What, exactly, was in those research satellites?

Is it not hazardous to life in the sea?

We should be aware that the ocean is not a garbage dump.

My sister sent me Michael Phelps first childhood picture.

Gold medalist in early training.

Karl Rove never sleeps...
The text message announcing Biden was joining Obama's ticket went out around 3 a.m. Eastern, and by 6 a.m., McCain had a new attack ad.

"Please tell me who I am."
Another one of Chris' and my favorite traveling songs was, "The Logical Song", by Supertramp. Even though Chris couldn't talk, when the song got to the, "please tell me who I am", part, she would sing along at the top of her lungs.
Here is the video of Supertramp .

God gave you a front row seat in this beautiful universe, enjoy it.

No comments: