The 10 Most Awesome Scientific Discoveries for Alcohol

February 14, 2011

Drinking is one of mankind’s oldest, most revered, and most regrettable pastimes, in that order. Thankfully, science has found new breakthroughs and helped it evolve from a simple activity done by simple men to a complex activity that turns us into even simpler men.

10. Alcohol improves superconductors

Remember that experiment you did in the fifth grade where you used a radio to power a clock? You could've done the same thing by bringing some high-powered superconductors and a bottle of wine to school, assuming, of course, that your teacher didn’t already drink on the job.

A group of Japanese scientists found that soaking superconductors, metals that conduct huge amounts of electricity with less resistance, in booze, specifically red wine, were able to reduce the resistance three times more compared to simple ethanol and pure water. It’s probably the only time in history that drinking on the clock has actually helped someone do their job better as opposed to say your fifth grade teacher who only taught you that it’s harder to recite the capitals of the 13 colonies when you’ve polished off half a bottle of Cold Duck.

9. Champagne gets you drunker quicker

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Every year, it seems like the office New Year’s Eve party produces more pathetic, fall down alcoholics than Spring Break, depression, and the Jackson family tree combined. Maybe that’s because it’s not the low morale, tolerance, or grade of booze that your cheap boss bought for the killing floor.

The Medical Counsel on Alcohol (motto: We operate better when we’ve had a few) found that a bit of bubbly can get you drunker at a quicker rate than normal booze or beer. That’s because the carbon-dioxide in the champagne “may accelerate the absorption of alcohol, leading to more rapid or severe intoxication.” However, science has yet to explain why the girl who voluntarily frenched you when the ball dropped hasn’t returned your calls, answered your emails, or acknowledged the dead bird you sent to her as a symbol of your “undying love.”

8. Martinis are better when shaken, not stirred

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The next time you saunter up to a bar and ask the cute drinkmaiden behind the counter to pour you a stiff vodka martini “shaken, not stirred” and she rolls her eyes because you are the one-millionth unoriginal bastard to think he’s being smooth by pretending to be someone he’s not (i.e. suave, debonaire, and Scottish), you can make science your wingman.

A group of science students at the University of Western Ontario in Canada turned college’s favorite pastime into a groundbreaking chemical study, probably because they got wasted five days before the thesis was due and had to come up with something before the hangover wore off. They found that shaking a martini instead of stirring it deactivates the hydrogen peroxide in the hooch and reduces the risk of susceptibility to disease. Psychologists also suggest that the increased number of ice crystals in a shaken martini makes it taste better or have a better “mouthfeel,” which ironically is another activity that probably made James Bond healthier.

7. Drinking keeps women slim

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If you’re the kind of close-minded, shallow, self-centered jerk who only goes to the gym or Whole Foods to meet fit, physically attractive women, welcome to the club.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Boston conducted a study of 19,000 women and found that those who had a couple of drinks a day were not only more likely to keep off excess weight, but it actually prevented excessive weight gain and those that abstained from alcohol were the most likely to put on extra pounds. So it turns out that the bar may be a better place to fulfill your instinctual need to seek out a soulmate by purely physical means. Besides, the relationship is twice as exciting when you realize she’s a psychopath down the road.

6. Alcohol can fuel artificial muscles

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Remember your weird Uncle Jerry who got his hip replaced and his first stop on the way home from the hospital was his favorite bar for two or three or 400 shots of Jameson’s? It turns out he wasn’t an alcoholic. He was just fueling his robotic hip skeleton.

The University of Texas at Dallas’ NanoTech Institute found that alcohol has “30 times the energy storage density of a conventional battery” because the alcohol reacts with oxygen to generate heat. So maybe one day, doctors and surgeons could implant and fuel artificial limbs, muscles, and other body parts better than more traditional means of electricity such as batteries, electrodes, or soldering a pacemaker to a DieHard.



5. Synthetic alcohol makes you a better drunk

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There’s a common misnomer that non-natural forms of anything are automatically unhealthy, which we really can’t prove until Mother Nature develops its own Hot Pocket.

Scientists are close to debunking this claim by developing their own form of drinkable alcohol that not only develops the nice relaxing buzz that every social drinker aims for, but also doesn’t make you act like a raging buffoon or give you a massive hangover the next morning. This could bring us one step closer to making drinking completely socially acceptable if only science could also perfect beer halitosis pills, the drunk-sensing cell phone, and urine proof pants.

4. Beer doesn’t make you fat, fatty

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For years, chubby guys have blamed their oversized bulges on their love of sweet, sweet beer. Now they can cross this excuse off their list and put the blame on something more reasonable until science disproves genetics and bone mass as causes too.

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the only medical journal that includes inedible animal parts on three levels of its food pyramid, found that beer doesn’t give men “beer bellies” by studying a random sample of men and women. That means a random group of men and women somewhere out there got paid to drink beer for the betterment of science. First thing in the morning, I’m looking up for my old high school guidance counselor and pushing him off the highest cliff I can find.

3. Alcohol is good for you in the long run

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Having a few drinks may not seem like the best health benefit a human being can adopt into their health regimen. But once again, science has made us all look like complete morons. It’s just like high school chemistry, only with less crying.

Numerous studies have confirmed this, but the most recent from the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that abstaining from alcohol actually “increases” the risk of death and dying and that moderate drinkers were less likely to die over time than those who only had a drink or two every now and then. Now if science can just prove that eating steak injected with cheese can build muscle faster, I can finally become the Olympic athlete that my parents always dreamed I would become.

2. Increasing oxygen in alcohol reduces hangovers

Source: Paul Bradbury/The Image Bank/Getty ImagesNothing in this world sucks more than the twinge of a morning hangover. It doesn’t just make your head hurt or your stomach ache. It makes you entire body feel like it wishes you would just curl up and die. That’s why they call it “Nature’s Ex-Wife.”

Thankfully, science can keep you from having to pay a day-long alimony of pain and vomit by stopping your hangover before it starts. The same “Alcoholism” study found that dissolved oxygen in booze and beer reduced hangovers by increasing a person’s fatigue recovery and energy storage. Just thinking of all the drinking you could do if you didn’t spend an entire morning wishing you could go back in time and prevent yourself from overdoing it, instead of, say, curing the Plague or killing Hitler, you selfish drunk you.

1. Falling into a vat of beer will not get you drunk

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Every self-respecting drunk has thought about it, dreamed about it, and even wished about it, but they’ve never done it because they didn’t have the time, money, or access to a lifeguard who was that desperate for the work.

It turns out that your biggest alcoholic fantasy (besides the one involving a naked Carmen Electra who is drowning in the world’s biggest Jaeger Jell-o Shot) will have to remain just that. Swimming or immersing yourself into a giant vat of beer has the same effect on your blood alcohol level as not drinking a damn thing. A hospital in Denmark conducted the experiment based on an old myth that giving yourself a booze foot bath could get you wasted, but none of them could confirm that this was the case. Of course, I’m just assuming that considering they couldn’t tell anyone because no one would go near the nauseous cloud of feet and booze breath that their experiment produced.