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April 30, 2007
Volume 85, Number 18
p. 48

All About Vices

We here at Newscripts think it's time to get in touch with the sweeter side of CRACKHEADS—the candy, that is. The confection, a mixture of white and dark chocolate-covered espresso beans, also includes a feature that may be of interest to our readers—the box. On the back, there is a comparison of the amount of caffeine in the espresso beans with the levels in beverages such as soda and tea, accompanied by the chemical structure of caffeine. Intrigued, Newscripts went to the source.

The candy was created by John Osmanski, president of Osmanium LLC, while he attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He graduated in 2006 with a degree in biomedical engineering. Osmanski became "quite fond of chemistry" while attending school. "I even did my own caffeine extractions on some Crackheads for benchmarking," he says.

And the decision to add the caffeine structure to the box? "I thought it would be interesting to include the molecule with the bond structures on the box to give a nerdy science feel to the product, as I am a bit nerdy and science-oriented, and to relate to people who are familiar with chemistry."

Osmanski says the Crackheads website ( will soon include "information from journal publications on caffeine and chocolate" for readers to enjoy. Smart and yummy!

Attention global warming alarmists and deniers alike! Think you know the way the world ends? Well, now may be the time to put up or shut up. Newscripts heard that, a sports betting website, was taking WAGERS on the possible consequences of a global heat-up. So, to serve you, faithful readers, this writer fearlessly went undercover as an online gambler to check it out.

A search of the website turned up empty, however, and a call to BetUS customer service confirmed the greatest fear of any would-be environmental-disaster wagerer: global warming bets were closed.

Not to be deterred, your fearless writer turned back to the Web and found the website, which can satisfy any climate-calamity gambling fix???with a twist.

On Long Bets, a user makes a long-term proposition (a scan shows that many propositions are climate- or science-related) and then backs it up with a wager. If another user steps up to challenge the proposition, the bet is on. The twist is that all money bet is donated to a charity of the winner's choice.

In a final twist, it turns out that Long Bets is a spin-off of the Long Now Foundation. Established in 1996, the organization's mission is "to provide a counterpoint to today's 'faster/cheaper' mind-set and promote 'slower/better' thinking." It hopes to accomplish this goal over the next 10,000 years. What's more, a founding member of the board of directors is none other than '70s electronic musician and influential music producer Brian Eno. This writer didn't bet on finding that.

How do you make strawberries even better for you? Just add ALCOHOL. Bring on the daiquiris!

In the newest edition from the "alcoholic beverages are good for you???no, really!" camp, researchers from Kasetsart University, in Thailand, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have found that the addition of natural volatile compounds, including ethanol, to strawberries and blackberries enhances the fruits' antioxidant and free-radical scavenging capacities (J. Sci. Food Agric., DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.2841).

The researchers appear to have stumbled upon this result while studying the ability of various natural volatile compounds to delay the decay of fruit in storage.

However the researchers arrived at this result, the Newscripts gang is going out to celebrate the finding with at least one round of strawberry margaritas.

This week's column was written by Kimberly Dunham. Please send comments and suggestions to