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Making Science Palatable

Oh, how many science quizzes might I have aced if only the lessons had been delivered via, instead of a teacher's droning voice, adorable cookies like these?The self-described "typical nerdy biological anthropologist turned stay at home mom" who writes the blog Not So Humble Pie has channeled her s...

Oh, how many science quizzes might I have aced if only the lessons had been delivered via, instead of a teacher's droning voice, adorable cookies like these?

Atom cookie from Not So Humble Pie

The self-described "typical nerdy biological anthropologist turned stay at home mom" who writes the blog Not So Humble Pie has channeled her scientific interests into the creation of a whole curriculum of amusing and delicious-looking science-themed baked goods—like the Jumbo "Hostess" Binary Cupcakes, which have ones and zeros in place of frosting curlicues, and gingerbread people in containment suits, who "laugh in the face of ebola and crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever!"

Binary "Hostess" Cupcakes courtesy of Not So Humble Pie

OK, so they aren't necessarily all 100-percent scientifically accurate. The author admits to taking a little artistic license—after all, the limits of frosting decoration, unlike the universe, are finite. But anything that gets people excited about science and learning is probably a good thing. What student wouldn't want to memorize the periodic table of elements if she got to eat each one as she mastered it? Mmm, rubidium. We're talking frosted cookie form here, of course. It would be counterproductive (i.e. potentially fatal) to eat straight-up arsenic or beryllium.

It's not just the kiddies who could stand to brush up on their science, either. For the grown-ups, I found some themed cocktails that would be perfect for a gathering of astrophysicists, or just a science-fiction convention social. There's the Black Hole, made with black sambuca and club soda on the rocks. Or the Bailey's Comet, containing (in addition to the obvious Irish cream) butterscotch schnapps, Goldschlager and sambuca. Goldschlager, as you may know, is the cinnamon-flavored schnapps with flakes of real gold leaf in it, which leads me to another line of scientific inquiry—namely, is it safe to ingest the Au on the periodic table? Yes, according to the Straight Dope—it passes through the body undigested. And Snopes debunks the silly myth that the gold flakes cause tiny cuts in the stomach to make the alcohol absorb faster.

For the neurobiologists, try a Brain Hemorrhage, a concoction of Bailey's, strawberry schnapps and grenadine that sounds as gross-tasting as it looks.

Finally, for the computer geeks (which means most of us these days), check out this charming low-tech (stop-motion and cardboard) video that imagines how you could bake cookies using Photoshop.
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About Lisa Bramen
Lisa Bramen

Lisa Bramen was a frequent contributor to Smithsonian.com's Food and Think blog. She is based in northern New York and is also an associate editor at Adirondack Life magazine.

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