Thursday, November 09, 2006

Scotch is NOT Whiskey! PART 1

In my early days of exploring the vagaries of the human units, I came across a noxious substance known as Alcohol, an arabic word meaning "finely divided". It was named in 5,000 bc by the alchemist Paracelsus, of Harry Potter fame. A general formulae for a simple acyclic alcohol is CnH2n+1OH. The specific alcohol of interest to the human units is ethanol (CH3CH2OH), which is created by fermenting sugars.

The earliest known use of ethanol beverage was some 9,000 years ago in Jiahu, in the Chinese province of Henan, where it has been proposed that a beverage fermented from a mixture of rice, honey and hawthorns was created.

Why would they imbibe these substances, the answer is found in their brain chemistry, for ethanol is a psychoactive substance, with sedative hypnotic and depressive effects. OK, so they are whacky. The human units find it easier to socialise after partaking of this poison, which is also unfortunately for them addictive.

The yeasts that break down the sugars cannot survive readily in liquids containing more than 18% Ethanol, and die above 25%, so the human units invented a means to purify the ethanol to make the ethanol based beverage more toxic, this method known as distillation was invented by Islamic Alchemists in the 8th or 9th century.

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