The Science And Tradition Of Winemaking

Since my last name means "grapes" in Italian, it is fitting that my father and brother are both amateur winemakers. While my dad stubbornly sticks to medieval techniques, my brother, a chemical engineer, makes use of science. But although our understanding of winemaking has deepened, and although additives serve an important purpose, the basic process... Continue Reading →

Learning About Marijuana From Washington University

Whether or not a drug is legal, simplistic slogans, scare tactics and moralizing never help people make responsible choices. Education is the best tool we have, and Washington University has put together the most readable and up to date marijuana web site I have seen. While being fairly comprehensive, they do not pretend to have all the definitive answers.... Continue Reading →

Obscure Molecules In Familiar Smells

At both the macroscopic and micro levels, not all organisms get equal attention. Because of their sheer numbers, there are still undiscovered species of plants and roundworms at the feet of botanists and zoologists, respectively. Other specimens have been named but little is known about them. At the astronomical level we come across two factors:... Continue Reading →

One Man’s Weed Is Another Man’s Science

When I was a teenager, my father would sooner believe that I was an incompetent lawn mower than even entertain the possibility that I was motivated to preserve what he considered weeds, those suburban symbols of lassitude and irresponsibility. If I'd see a patch of flowering clover or the tiny star-like flowers of stitchwort (Stellaria),I... Continue Reading →

The Etymology And Drugs Of Parsley

My first language is a rough southern Italian dialect, scorned by many Northerners. But what I like about my mother tongue is the connection between some of its vocabulary and Linnaean taxonomy. Parsley for instance is known as  prezzemolo in standard Italian, but I grew up calling it petrosino. Interestingly parsley's genus, derived from Latin,... Continue Reading →

The Botany And Pharmacology Of German Chamomile Tea

1. Botany German chamomile or true chamomile, Matricaria recutita*, is sufficiently different from the also drinkable Roman chamomile that botanists don’t classify them under the same genus. (A genus is group of similar species.) Both plants, however, have flowers typical of the Compositae or Asteraceae family, a group of genera that also includes dandelions, sunflowers... Continue Reading →

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