Saturday, September 26, 2015

Food for Thought

The latest OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) result is that computers don't help student learning.

In a recent paper by Peter Evans-Greenwood, Kitty O’Leary, Peter Williams, Deloitte, 18 Sept 2015, the authors write, "(E)ducators need to turn their attention to creating environments and platforms where students can learn what they need to learn when they need to, and instilling in them the habits of mind, attitudes and behaviours that will enable them to thrive in today’s (and tomorrow’s) knowledge-rich environment."

Food for thought?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Myths about the New ‘P’

The US Federal Government, through FDA, has just recently approved the manufacture and use of Palcohol following the false start over its approval last year.

Palcohol is sometimes referred to as 'powdered alcohol' which is a misnomer since Palcohol is not powdered alcohol at all. It is a substance created and manufactured by Mark Phillips, an Arizona businessman. In its rawest form, a preparation like Palcohol consist of pure alcohol held in a matrix of cyclodextrin, an edible white powder, like starch and that is soluble in water. Cyclodextrin, if eaten, is non-toxic, is not sweet, is not digested and is a contribution to dietary fibre. Raw Palcohol looks like icing sugar.

Palcohol has yet to reach the market place in a commercial form, but several states in the US are already preparing to the ban the sale of this substance if they haven’t done so

There’s been a recent revival of activity on the Internet about this now not-so-new consumable, most of which is wrong and has been spread around through ignorance. I applaud Phil Mason's (Thunderf00t's) initiative in swiftly identifying invalid data circulated via the Internet last year. 

Here’s just some of the myths associated with Palcohol:

It can be used to spike drinks.

While this might be true, it would be very difficult to spike a drink successfully using Palcohol. First, the substance has to be stirred for at least a minute for the powder to disperse. Then there is the matter of the volume of powder required to spike the drink effectively – Palcohol contains only about 10% by volume of alcohol. To have the equivalent effect of a single shot of vodka would require almost half a cupful of the powder – not something easy to conceal, never mind dissolve in a standard drink.

Snorting Palcohol gets you drunk superfast.

This myth is hilariously funny for it would mean snorting about half a cupful of Palcohol to get the same effect as drinking one shot of vodka. What is funnier is that even one snort of the powder would cause the consumer unbearable discomfort and pain.

Palcohol is easier to conceal than liquid alcohol.

Pure alcohol forms only 10% of the volume of the Palcohol that holds it. A far easier and more discrete way to conceal alcohol would be to hide the liquid in a suitable container – a practice that has been used for centuries. Palcohol is just too bulky for any useful amount of it to be carried discretely.

Alcohol is heavier than Palcohol so airlines could save millions on fuel costs by providing Palcohol instead of traditional alcoholic drinks. Similar savings can be obtained through lower shipping costs for resorts that rely on imported alcohol.

This is almost as funny as the idea that snorting Palcohol is a quick way to get drunk. Palcohol contains about 50% alcohol by weight, so clearly it would be far cheaper to transport liquid alcohol than the twice as heavy equivalent amount of Palcohol.

Palcohol presents a higher risk than alcohol on its own.

Palcohol certainly does not present any risk to the consumer greater than that already presented by liquid alcohol. In many ways the risks are lessened due to the form that the alcohol is in when received initially by the consumer. An example of this is Palcohol’s inability to flow like liquid alcohol, so it presents a lesser fire risk. 

However, there is one risk that Palcohol now has the potential to present due to the recent publicity of it as a possible banned substance. It is well known that if any substance is banned, consumption of it inevitably increases. When it's eventually released to the market, I predict that the sale of Palcohol will skyrocket initially due to this publicity and level off to an extent that we may never hear much of its existence again.