Why Do Beans Make You Fart?
June 11, 2008 5:16 AM   Subscribe

ilovebacteria.com explains science to people who do not necessarily have a scientific background. You'll find a selection of DIY experiments like egg osmosis, and strange facts like the ever popular why does asparagus make your wee smell? And don't forget to meet the microbes.
posted by netbros (9 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I have a big place in my heart for DIY science and kitchen experiments. In fact, my heart is almost entire composed of those elements, plus a dash of cockles.

That said, this site doesn't seem to be anything special. With the exception of the DNA extraction, all these experiments were already fairly old hat in the 50s (judging by the old DIY science and kitchen experiments I love to browse). And even that DNA thing has been around the internets for several years now.

If there were some added charm or great illustrations or something this could stand out, but as is.....meh. I looked at the answered questions a little less thoroughly, but the ones I did were also all very standard, well-trodden questions.
posted by DU at 6:52 AM on June 11, 2008

I do like this site, and like how they try to be engaging, but some of their content hits on some of my pet peeves. Namely, seeming to explain something, but at the end of it you really haven't learned anything, or worse, you've learned the wrong thing.

On asparagus and smelly wee:
Firstly, asparagus contains a number of sulphur containing chemicals including the amino acids cysteine and methionine ...Sulphur containing products can cause nasty smells that could be responsible for asparagus wee wee. Anecdotal evidence suggests that taking the amino acid methionine as a supplement can result in the same flavored wee wee as when asparagus is eaten, further supporting the hypothesis that it is cysteine containing amino acids are responsible for the smell.
I was unable to follow the logic how cysteine was responsible for the smell. Maybe they meant methionine? or did they mean to include both, as they both have sulfur? I don't know.
Comparative Analysis
Did you know that the average computer keyboard has 100 times more bacteria lurking on its surfaces than an ordinary toilet seat?
But *why*? Is it because the average toilet seat is cleaned with a disinfectant quite often? If toilet seats and keyboards were cleaned with the same frequency in a similar manner, then the factoid would have the makings of a proper comparison.

We are just as likely to die from an asteroid impact as we are in a plane crash?

This may be true, but *how* it's true is incredibly important to understanding the process. I get frustrated sometimes at my kid's school curriculum because they do the same thing, throw out a random factoid that does nothing to improve knowledge. I'm guessing that what is meant is that a major asteroid impacting the earth would result in massive deaths, while a plane crash results in relatively few, thus (probability of the event) * (probability of you being in the event) is greater for the asteroid case than the plane case. What irritates me is that the way this is framed can lead people to jump to the conclusion that asteroids kill people more often than plane crashes do (which is false).
On the other hand, I did like their osmosis experiments with the eggs, and will have to look through this site more with the kids for other cool and interesting stuff.
posted by forforf at 7:25 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hmm. It's a mix of good, not so great, and weird.
posted by Tehanu at 7:43 AM on June 11, 2008

And by weird, I mean the way the MRSA quotes Star Trek.
posted by Tehanu at 7:44 AM on June 11, 2008

The chlamydia is perversely funny: "I always win at hide and seek!"
posted by Tehanu at 7:49 AM on June 11, 2008

It's like the idea is sooooo close, but the interface gets in the way, and the content needs refining.

Oh well, fun site anyway.
posted by sir_rubixalot at 12:18 AM on June 12, 2008

Tehanu: don't forget about Neisseria gonorrhoeae:

"If you're happy and you know it clap your hands."

I can't stop laughing..

And somehow I think getting the clap would not make me happy one bit.
posted by sir_rubixalot at 12:22 AM on June 12, 2008

Hey - that's my web site you're all discussing! Thanks for visiting by the way, I was wondering why my traffic have gone up by so much...It's nice to get some feedback on the site, even if that wasn't the intention of your comments.

Because there is only one of me, and the site is just a hobby that I've been doing in my spare time since when I was a student, I admit that lots of the stuff on there isn't perfect. It's weird when you write something and it sounds jokey and light-hearted in your head, then people actually read it and expect it to be all factual and correct. So I'm now going to go through everything and try to make sure it makes sense, and will be adding some new stuff when I have time (like pretty pictures and cooler experiments).

But all the weird stuff is another story - thats staying, I'm afraid. Not everyone shares my sense of humor but what the hell....
posted by ilovebacteria at 8:23 AM on June 12, 2008

Ha! Hiya.
posted by cortex at 8:45 AM on June 12, 2008

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