Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday rerun: Mr Science Guy!

Science is our friend. Remember hearing that in school? Sure, the math teacher could always claim that you'd need to work with fractions at some point in your life, and a barely-rudimentary knowledge of history and geography has helped some people do well in their chosen fields, but the poor guy wearing the shabby lab coat had to work extra hard to convince a bunch of 7th-graders that there was any value in figuring out how much water a vessel would displace, or the wonders of photosynthesis. I do recall enjoying the lab sessions where we got to work it out with the bunsen burner.

But here's a guy who took science and made something we can all appreciate. Next time you're pouring a cold beer down your neck, how about a little shout out for Dr Raul Cano!

Some years ago, Cano figured out a way to extract DNA from an ancient Lebanese weevil entombed in amber, just like in Jurassic Park. This was the first evidence that really old DNA could be preserved and used, which must have excited lawyers who salivated over the chance at digging up old paternity suits from people long since departed.
He was just warming up, getting ready to do something really useful as the director of the Environmental Biotechnology Institute at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

He found a yeast strain that is between 25 million and 45 million years old and makes beer with it! His company - a sideline that doesn't yet seem to threaten Anheuser-Busch in sales - is known as Fossil Fuels Brewing Co. A native Cuban, Cano recalls happy Havana days sipping his dad's cerveza and gets to relive those days by making his own microbrew.

That yeast is even older than some of the hot dog rolls at the ballpark. I offer them this free advertising slogan: "Let's stop off for an old one!"

No comments: