Tuesday, July 28

The Debunker: Does Searing Meat "Seal In the Juices"?

by Ken Jennings

Ah, July, season of the backyard barbecue. If you're a vegetarian, we'll throw some kind of veggie burger on the grill and quietly pity you, but for most of us in the summer, meat is where it's at. But how much do you actually know about the flesh of the dead animals that you're consuming? Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings is here all month to chew the fat with us about some particularly stubborn meat misconceptions. Are you ready to work on your protein proficiency? Let's see what Ken's cooked up today.

The Debunker: Does Searing Meat "Seal In the Juices"?

The German chemist Justus von Liebig was the Alton Brown of his day. In 1847, he published his landmark Researches on the Chemistry of Food to great international acclaim, influencing chefs like Auguste Escoffier and cookbook pioneers like Britain's Eliza Acton. One of Baron Liebig's most successful innovations: the idea that meat should be quickly seared, so as to form "a crust, or shell, which no longer permits the external water to penetrate into the interior of the mass of flesh. . . . The flesh retains its juiciness, and is quite as agreeable to the taste as it can be made by roasting."

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Tuesday, July 21

The Debunker: How Many Pounds of Undigested Red Meat Are There in My Colon?

by Ken Jennings

Ah, July, season of the backyard barbecue. If you're a vegetarian, we'll throw some kind of veggie burger on the grill and quietly pity you, but for most of us in the summer, meat is where it's at. But how much do you actually know about the flesh of the dead animals that you're consuming? Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings is here all month to chew the fat with us about some particularly stubborn meat misconceptions. Are you ready to work on your protein proficiency? Let's see what Ken's cooked up today.

The Debunker: How Many Pounds of Undigested Red Meat Are There in My Colon?

That title sounds like the worst carnival guessing booth of all time, but it's actually an important question. Many otherwise bright people believe the longstanding urban legend that the average human intestine is packed with a delicious meat filling—like a Hot Pocket, I guess. "Five pounds" of meat is the most commonly quoted quantity, thanks in large part to a quote in the movie Beverly Hills Cop, of all places! But this factoid is, if you'll pardon the expression, full of crap.

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Tuesday, July 14

The Debunker: Did Hamburgers Originate in Hamburg?

by Ken Jennings

Ah, July, season of the backyard barbecue. If you're a vegetarian, we'll throw some kind of veggie burger on the grill and quietly pity you, but for most of us in the summer, meat is where it's at. But how much do you actually know about the flesh of the dead animals that you're consuming? Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings is here all month to chew the fat with us about some particularly stubborn meat misconceptions. Are you ready to work on your protein proficiency? Let's see what Ken's cooked up today.

The Debunker: Did Hamburgers Originate in Hamburg?

Here are some things that originated in Hamburg: Christmas wreaths, the Beatles' stage show, the luxury cruise ship, Angela Merkel. And here is one thing that did not originate in Hamburg: the hamburger. That's right: the hamburger was never eaten in the northern German city for which it's named—not until Americans brought it over in the 20th century, that is.

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Tuesday, July 07

The Debunker: Is a Rare Steak Really "Bloody"?

by Ken Jennings

Ah, July, season of the backyard barbecue. If you're a vegetarian, we'll throw some kind of veggie burger on the grill and quietly pity you, but for most of us in the summer, meat is where it's at. But how much do you actually know about the flesh of the dead animals that you're consuming? Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings is here all month to chew the fat with us about some particularly stubborn meat misconceptions. Are you ready to work on your protein proficiency? Let's see what Ken's cooked up today.

The Debunker: Is a Rare Steak Really "Bloody"?

Remember Jack Rabbit Slim's, that '50s-style nostalgia restaurant from Pulp Fiction, the one with all the fake cars and celebrity look-alikes that looks like in real life it would have blown through its investors' capital in about a week? At Jack Rabbit Slim's, you may recall, the only two options for ordering your meat are "burnt to a crisp" or "bloody as hell." (What would happen to the poor diners who just want their steak or cheeseburger medium, I'd like to know. Would they be summarily run out of the diner by a waiter who looks like Joe McCarthy? Executed by a waiter who looks like Charles Starkweather?)

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Tuesday, July 22

The Debunker: Can Warm Summer Nights Cause “Heat Lightning”?

by Ken Jennings

Lord Almighty, I feel my temperature rising. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, July is the beginning of the “dog days” of summer, the hottest period of the year. But you know what’s cool on a hot day? Knowledge. Grab a tall glass of lemonade, settle down in a hammock under a shady tree, and let Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings set you straight on some shamefully persistent misinformation about hot stuff.

The Debunker: Can Warm Summer Nights Cause “Heat Lightning”?

You’re sitting on your porch on a warm, humid summer night. Without warning, off on the horizon, you see flashes of lightning. After a few minutes’ pause, the lightning continues. But the whole time, you haven’t felt a drop of rain—in fact, there’s not a cloud in the sky. Even weirder, none of the lightning was accompanied by thunder! This is clearly no ordinary lightning.

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Tuesday, July 15

The Debunker: Did Benjamin Franklin Invent the Franklin Stove?

by Ken Jennings

Lord Almighty, I feel my temperature rising. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, July is the beginning of the “dog days” of summer, the hottest period of the year. But you know what’s cool on a hot day? Knowledge. Grab a tall glass of lemonade, settle down in a hammock under a shady tree, and let Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings set you straight on some shamefully persistent misinformation about hot stuff.

The Debunker: Did Benjamin Franklin Invent the Franklin Stove?

Benjamin Franklin was certainly one of the great inventors of his time, and his lively intellect led to a series of innovations we still benefit from today: bifocals, the lightning rod, the flexible urinary catheter. Yes, every time an old person is able to finish their Sudoku while not getting struck by lightning and/or peeing his hospital bed, we have Ben Franklin to thank.

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Tuesday, July 08

The Debunker: Are Meteorites White-Hot When They Land?

by Ken Jennings

Lord Almighty, I feel my temperature rising. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, July is the beginning of the “dog days” of summer, the hottest period of the year. But you know what’s cool on a hot day? Knowledge. Grab a tall glass of lemonade, settle down in a hammock under a shady tree, and let Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings set you straight on some shamefully persistent misinformation about hot stuff.

The Debunker: Are Meteorites White-Hot When They Land?

First of all, let’s settle this “shooting stars” thing once and for all. Feel free to make a wish on a streak of light in the night sky, but what you’re seeing is, of course, not a star. It’s a meteoroid—a small chunk of a comet or an asteroid. When the meteoroid enters the atmosphere, friction produces a burst of light and heat, which we call a meteor. If the whole thing doesn’t burn up during its descent, a fragment of rock may fall to Earth, at which point it becomes a meteorite. Got it? The order is asteroid -> meteoroid -> meteor -> meteorite.

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Tuesday, July 01

The Debunker: Is Human Body Temperature 98.6°?

by Ken Jennings

Lord Almighty, I feel my temperature rising. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, July is the beginning of the “dog days” of summer, the hottest period of the year. But you know what’s cool on a hot day? Knowledge. Grab a tall glass of lemonade, settle down in a hammock under a shady tree, and let Jeopardy! wunderkind Ken Jennings set you straight on some shamefully persistent misinformation about hot stuff.

The Debunker: Is Human Body Temperature 98.6°?

My mom was a slave to the thermometer. A temperature of 98.6° meant that, even if I felt lousy, I was perfectly healthy and had to go to school. Anything higher meant a fever, so I could stay home and watch game shows and General Hospital. Anything lower meant I wasn’t holding the damn thing in my mouth right, and I got just one more chance before she’d go back to the medicine cabinet to get (ominous music sting!) the other thermometer.

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