Diet Coke and Mentos, Round 1

So, the sidewalk egg-frying experiment made me think about some of our previous science experiments after work.  The first one was an attempt at the classic Diet Coke and Mentos explosion.  If you’re not familiar with it, hop on over to YouTube.  It’s a fairly popular Bill Nye the Science Guy-style trick.  Essentially, adding Mentos candy to Diet Coke causes an extremely quick and foamy reaction.

I don’t know the chemical steps, but the basic science amounts to the small pores in the Mentos hard coating catalyzing the fast release of CO2 gas from the soda.  Apparently, this experiment doesn’t work very well with other types of soda or at all with different candies.  For our procedure, we went right for the good stuff.  We rigged up a Mentos Release Device, so a trap could be opened by pulling a string.  Trap is released, then the Mentos plop into the Diet Coke.

Here’s a breakdown of this experiment:

Step 1: The Explanation
Step 2: Pull the string, the Mentos drop
Step 3: Prepare to regret not standing farther away

Fried Eggs

It’s been so blasted hot in Texas this summer, there have been some news stories asking if it was hot enough to cook various food products on various surfaces outside.  For example, bake cookies on a car hood, or fry an egg on the sidewalk.  Well, some co-workers and I took this challenge to heart, and attempted to fry up some eggs on the sidewalk outside of our building.

It actually worked pretty well!  At first, we were impatiently expecting instant gratification.  Personally, I was looking for some nice sizzle, like a cracking an egg into a hot frying pan.  That didn’t happen; it actually took a few hours before anything cooked.

Egg #1 was on a sewer hole cover:

I think the super-heated metal worked well to cook the egg, but it still took a few hours.  Also, it seems that some squirrels or birds ate part of it.  Or someone from the bus station near our office.

Egg #2 was on the concrete next to the other egg:

I mixed the yolk up a bit with a stick on this one, whereas with the first egg, we left the yolk intact.  There’s no doubt this one cooked, but the end result didn’t really look like an egg.  Is it a coincidence that the squirrels/birds/hungry bus-goers left Egg#2 alone?  Probably not.  It looked pretty gross.

Shortcode Test

Well, I’m still trying to figure out how to display quiz or survey results from a Google Document form.  In trying to figure this out, I’ve been looking into this WordPress “shortcode.”  Apparently, shortcode allows you to pop in some simple code to provide some commonly-sought-after functionality  that would otherwise be complicated.  Make sense?

So in other words…

Here’s a “follow me on Twitter” thing:

It actually works!  You can click on that thing and really follow me on Twitter.  Thanks to this shortcode, I just did something that would have been otherwise beyond my abilities in HTML!  I just typed the shortcode twitter-follow screen_name=’jonamdall’ (in brackets), and BAM!

It seems the secret to displayable survey results is found here.  Must…figure…out…

Quiz Results

After significant trial and error, I finally nailed displaying survey results on this blog!  It’s fairly easy, now that I’ve figured it out.  Just publish a page in your Google Spreadsheet (you can create a graph tab rather than publishing the entire thing).  After that, copy the embedded link and paste into the blog.  It’s that simple!

As an added bonus, each time a new person fills out the form, Google republishes the spreadsheet!  This should update the numbers, and subsequently, the graphs on this blog post.   The statistics are fairly interesting, I think.  The question about transplanting your brain into a robot I thought would strongly favor both extremes; the “absolutely” choice for those who fear human mortality, and the “no way” group that would oppose such a thing on religious or moral grounds.  So far, the respondents have not had black or white opinions on this, and about half are not certain.

The second question’s results to this point are just as interesting!  A solid majority of people have indicated that space travel is a waste of resources, which I found quite surprising.  I’ve always thought having some redundancy to our genetic legacy with other planetary colonies was a very important long term goal for humanity.  Sort of like backing up a computer’s hard drive; if our hard drive (planet) were to die, it would be good to have a reliable backup.  It’d be a shame to waste all that miraculous life and time invested in evolution!  It seems most people, at least of our small sample size, favor a more…well…pragmatic approach.

So, here are the results:

Prior to figuring this solution out, I tried quite a few other things.  Prepare…for A BORING EXPLANATION!

The quiz was originally made using Google Documents, and the form can show a really nice looking Response Summary.  Unfortunately, you can’t just embed the results page, as you can with the actual form.  A workaround is to temporarily check the “let everyone see the response summary” box, and link it to “”

Once this is established, supposedly you can disable the “let everyone see results” thing.  To my disappointment, you can’t actually display the results within the blog post; only a link like this:

Next, I tried using shortcode (my post after this one).  According to WordPress support, this should work.  Perhaps it’s my inexperience, but I couldn’t get anything to display using the recommended shortcode:  [gdoc key= “dDNwWDBYUDFDVlBBOF84TGp3S05HbWc6MQ”]

Finally, I came across this entry from WordPress support:

This worked perfectly, and without any shortcode or extremely complex trickery.

Quiz time!

I just figured out another fun thing I can do (potentially), so let’s see if it works.  I created a very important quiz, housed in a google documents form.  In theory, I can actually include this quiz in this blog, and the answers will still be stored properly!  Well, let’s see if this works.

Edit:  It worked!  Very cool.  Now, fill it out!