Chili pepper science


17 Responses to “Chili pepper science”

  1. Antinous / Moderator says:

    What the fuck does anyone mean by “the exception that proves the rule”?

    ♥ The premise: All duck species quack.
    ♥ The exception: I’ve found a duck species that doesn’t quack.
    ♥ The proven rule: Not all duck species quack.

  2. wynneth says:

    Tewksbury says his fieldwork runs on three compounds: coca, caffeine and capsaicin.

  3. wynneth says:

    @4 – See M Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.
    @8 – Yeah that’s the first thing I caught too. Not that I’m judging him, he’s more than welcome to whatever substances he wants to ingest, I just find it funny they actually mentioned it specifically.

  4. Manooshi says:

    @#8 XraySpecs: Yeah, I lol’d at how casually that was mentioned. No biggie… dude’s high as a kite, but chilies MUST be studied all the while. Sounds good in my book. Chilies are such an important cooking and pickling ingredient for me.

  5. help i cant comfirm my username themelonbread says:

    What the fuck does anyone mean by “the exception that proves the rule”? By its very nature, an exception should completely derail a rule and send it hurdling into a flaming demise. Especially for describing natural phenomena. Sure, non-hot chilies invite further inquiry so that the current model of chili evolution can be appropriately modified, but they definitely don’t prove the current rule.

  6. help i cant comfirm my username themelonbread says:

    Um… Chewing coca leaves as a mild stimulant would probably have nowhere near the same degree of psychoactiveness as refined cocaine…

  7. felsby says:

    The hot substance is capsaicin that binds to nerves (on the “C fiber receptor”). Birds lack this receptor and they also lack teeth, minimizing the risk of grinding the seeds.
    So: put chili in a fruit: the seeds will pass unharmed through the animal and will travel farther than in a rodent.

  8. technogeek says:

    #1: That’s certainly the evolutionary advantage I’ve always assumed.

    Humans are weird creatures who _like_ sublethal intoxication in some cases, and/or have learned to mix foods to bring the toxic/irritative component down to a tolreable level.

  9. JadedLion says:

    It’s “Brendan Borrell” not “Brenan Borrell”. =) Sorry to nitpick, old classmate, can’t be helped.

  10. Detroit Indian says:

    Doesn’t the fact that the very attribute that repels one kind of predator attracts another kind (humans), decreases the effectiveness of the chilis being hot?

    I am just wondering about ways in which humans start affecting evolution.

  11. minTphresh says:

    our iguana and our tortoises love our home-grown habeneros

  12. J France says:

    Manooshi: Cocoa leaves are more like a few cups of strong coffee. Cocaine is refined from the leaves. Lots of them. Sticking one in your mouth for half an hour yields a totally different effect.

    Assumptions. Ass. You. Leave me out of it.

  13. jimbuck says:

    I was going to chime in with #1 as well. Nature’s way of saying – no, this stuff is for the birds only.

  14. Jerril says:

    #4: Becoming tasty to humans is probably an asset, not a liability. At least, as long as you’re also easy to cultivate.

    Humans don’t like eating pepper seeds much (bonus for the plant), and we’ve gone out of our way to transport them across the planet and help them grow in all sorts of environments they’d never have reached from Bolivia, even with migratory birds helping.

  15. RainyRat says:

    @#12 – It makes more sense if you use an older meaning of the word “prove”. It comes from the Latin “Probare”, meaning “to test”, as in probe, probity, probation, etc. So an exception will “prove” the rule, and find it wanting. Just don’t mention the pudding…

  16. Xrayspecs says:

    “Fueled by coca leaves”?

  17. catastrophegirl says:

    now i am wondering if capsaicin acts the same way on birds’ digestion as in humans: specifically to speed digestion. it could be nature’s way of getting the seeds out the other end much faster.

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