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Dinnertime Connections [Apr. 25th, 2009|10:12 am]

We had meatloaf recently while watching TV. Typical evening. The TV show was one that Timothy likes and it keeps him entertained as we finish up eating. In fact, what was playing at that moment seemed particularly appropriate but we'll get to that in a minute.

Let's consider the glaze on the meatloaf. Specifically, ketchup.

Putting the meatloaf away, I almost grabbed aluminum foil. That would've been a mistake, since it can actually react with the tomato-based glaze and dissolve the foil -- assuming the meatloaf is in a metal loaf pan.

The reason this happens is that it's forming a primitive battery between the dissimilar metals (pan and foil) and an electrolytic medium (acidic tomato paste). This is the same principle that Allessandro Volta used when he produced his first battery, eponymously called a voltaic pile.

His invention was inspired by the work of a contemporary, Luigi Galvani. They actually had marked disagreement about the nature of electricity. Volta saw it as a natural phenomenon while Galvani believed it to be biological, perhaps because of how he discovered and investigated it.

Galvani, of course, did his famous experiments with frogs that showed how the muscles of dead frogs could be induced to kick. This, eponymously named galvanism, is related to a the more subtle galvanic skin response that deals with changes in conductivity of human skin under different conditions.

The most famous application of galvanic skin response is as one of several measurements used in lie detectors. Perhaps a more proper term for this sort of lie detector is polygraph, which reflects the fact that it's using a variety of different inputs.

The polygraph, in its earliest incarnation, was the invention of one William Marston, quite an interesting individual. He invented something else which you've surely heard of: Wonder Woman.

This comic book character that later entered movies, cartoons, and everything else, was produced by William Marston. You'll also recall that she had a "lasso of truth"... a reference back to his interest in lie detectors, perhaps? (And that fact that she seemed to go around tying people up all the time... well, a reference to some other interests of his, perhaps?)

Regardless, it's undeniable that the Wonder Woman character has been successful, however, and established a strong female role. One rendition was the campy TV series featuring Lynda Carter. She also appeared as a guest on the Muppet Show with a Wonder Woman theme.

And that leads back to what we were watching with dinner recently. It was an earlier episode of the Muppet Show and it featured a rendition of Yes, We Have No Bananas. It was performed by Marvin Suggs and his All-Food Glee Club. (It's Jim Henson -- it doesn't have to make sense!)

One of the singing foods? A tomato.

It makes a joke about ketchup and we're back to our yummy start of this journey.

[User Picture]From: gilmorelion
2009-04-25 06:19 pm (UTC)
"What's the matter with you Tomato? You're slow!"

"Oh, I'll ketch-up!"
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2009-04-25 10:48 pm (UTC)
[in his best Suggs voice] YES-a! That's thee one.
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[User Picture]From: kit_ping
2009-04-25 10:05 pm (UTC)

Lest my reputation become tarnished...

I just want everyone to know it wasn't straight tomato ketchup on my meatloaf, it was a barbecue glaze. Homemade barbecue glaze at that. :)
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2009-04-25 10:46 pm (UTC)

Re: Lest my reputation become tarnished...

I didn't mean to impugn your meatloaf, certainly! But in the first draft I had the phrase "tomato-based glaze" everywhere and it just looked silly, as if I were deliberately trying to use a euphemism for ketchup.
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[User Picture]From: wordweaverlynn
2009-04-25 10:06 pm (UTC)
"You played a tomato for thirty seconds, they went half a day over schedule because you wouldn't sit down."

A line from Tootsie spoken to Dustin Hoffman, who also played Ratso Rizzo. And we all know a rat was the chef in Ratatouille. Coincidence or not?

Lovely little ramble among the inventors. Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: loranskunky
2009-04-26 03:30 am (UTC)
And today's great moments in science brought to you by Meatloaf! :)

Wonder Woman? Ok, Penh was dressed up in a Wonder Woman outfit today (wearing Violet) at the Mountain View Parade, where their theme was "Superheros" and got a picture of the Mayor of Mountain View who was wearing the same outfit as she was.
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[User Picture]From: foobart
2009-04-26 05:51 am (UTC)
I assume it was OK that, when reading this, I was hearing it narrated in my head by James Burke?
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2009-04-26 06:06 am (UTC)
Absolutely. I even tagged the entry under "Burke" for my own reference. :)

I've been rewatching some of his older series recently. Here they are. An eccentric and intriguing way to look at history and human ingenuity.

Edited at 2009-04-26 06:10 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: foobart
2009-04-26 08:38 am (UTC)
Hmm...ye olde netflix queue may get a few things added to it in the near future...
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From: jovino
2009-04-26 03:29 pm (UTC)
HAHAH!!! Nice full-circle!

Poor tomato.
He can't sing.
He can't even whistle.
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[User Picture]From: menagerie73
2009-04-27 04:15 am (UTC)
That was like watching an episode of Connections.
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