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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Electric Fork Changes Tongue's Tastes

With apologies to Stan Lee & Spider-Man, with great power comes great-tasting food—but have you ever tasted electricity?


I'm not talking about you poor buggers who have been struck by lightning and no longer have any sense of smell, or you weirdos who like to stick the end of a 9-volt battery on their tongue (guilty… every time I see one of the damn things… mmmmm, coppery)… no… I'm talking about electricity run into your mouth to affect the way you taste.

Nakamura Hiromi, a post doc research fellow at the University of Tokyo has invented a fork that produces low charges of electricity that when it, or the food on the fork touches it, it changes the way food taste.
Nakamura Hiromi

It can't make that hamburger taste like filet mignon, but it could make your fried chicken taste as though it was effervescent fried chicken.

This sounds like weird Dr. Frankenstein science, and it is, but the thought the scientists had initially, was to perhaps help alter the consumption of salt in the Japanese diet (not Diet. That's political suicide).

Nakamura calls the process "virtual taste"… food hacking that can augment or diminish aspects of the food being eaten.

Virtual taste? Oh man… I call dibs on using it while eyeballing porn with one's Oculus Rift 3-D augmentation sex video games. Yeah… you can feel where I'm heading with that.

Goggles on. Electric fork in the mouth.

No wonder no real person will ever look at you.

Anyhow… the electric fork doesn't fry your brain, but rather changes the way your tastebuds work…

In the video below, we see the well-spoken gaijin chatting with Nakamura while eating some food.

As he holds the food to the tip of his tongue, Nakamura encourages him to more the electric current slider up… with the electrical charge altering the way he perceives the food's taste…. with different levels of electricity comes different tastes.

The video has the same food tasting salty…

But she admits her concept isn't new, and in fact has been around for 250 years after Switzerland's Johann Sulzer (October 16, 1720 - February 27, 1779) put his tongue on two metals, lead (Pb) and silver (Ag)  and described "a pungent sensation, reminds me of the taste of green vitriol when I placed my tongue between these two metals."

You can taste the vitriol.
Green vitriol is iron sulphate (FeSO4)… a salt with industrial and medicinal applications.

Sulzer's experiment was the basis for Alessandro Volta inventing the battery. 

See… all us 9-volt battery suckers are merely performing scientific research.

Think about my tongue on a battery, overtime you turn on your smartphone, or drive your car or hook up someone's genitals for a torture session. Yeah. I'm not weird. I'm a scientist. 

Nakamura says she came about the electric fork while doing research to see if man could control computers with their tongue.

Let's just look at that statement for a moment.

She wanted to see if was possible to work a computer with her tongue.

I would have loved to see those experiments as she attempts to use the scroller on her mouse, and then flicking her tongue along the keyboard to send out photos of what she is eating that day via Twitter.

Okay, that wasn't what she did, but still… WTF? There is no reason I can come up with why anyone would ned to control a computer with their tongue. I can barely do so with my hands and eyes.

She wanted to see if it was possible for a computer to send feedback that the user could feel with their tongue… so she began experimenting with electricity.

Then… because like anyone who transferred from the Fine Arts programs to Science, Nakamura started adding electricity to her food. She's freaky. But then again… no weirder than an old man in a wig flitting a kite in an electrical storm…

That first time she added electricity to her food, the food taste changed.

As you all hopefully know, our tongue's tastebuds are receptors that allow us to taste sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

These the areas of the tongue where our tastebuds pick up the varies tastes.
Nakamura says that electricity affects the tastebuds, but no one is exactly sure how.

Is her electric fork dangerous? No… she's been using it for the past four years without her DNA changing her into an eel.

So… aside from weirding out your friends, what practical uses can Nakamura foresee with her electric fork? Well, if you have applied too much salt to your food, with a zap of the electric fork, you won't taste the salt.

Of course, that still means you are ingesting all of that nasty salt.

She suggests that for food that lacks salt, or for those who apply too much salt to their food anyway… a tongue zapping will trick the tongue into believing there IS enough salt in the food.

In Japan, apparently the high consumption of salt in the diet leading towards high blood-pressure is a big problem. It is a problem everywhere, actually.

In Japan… that soyu sauce is pretty damn salty… same with that miso soup. Oh… and those pickles… I love pickled daikon radish!

Let's not forget stuff like THIS:



You can cut out salt from your diet, but still maintain an electrically-induced salty diet.

Nakamura is also working on a way to add some electricity to your drinks. Waitaminute! Electricity and liquids?

The idea is to make thinks more effervescent turning plain healthy orange juice into plain healthy orange juice that tastes like orange soda.

And wait… we have to drink it naked to get an even better effect!

And she has even crazier and thus better ideas! Music we gear through headphones is electricity changed into sound vibrations… what if we could send that same musical electricity into that fork?

That's right… we could taste the music!     

The reason I am describing her video, is because it's 15-minutes long, and I know you social media junkies lack patience—except for those of you still reading, of course.

Here's the video:



So... what have we learned today?

I learned that Japanese people don't know how to use a fork properly - see the top-most image for proof. Laugh at me for my lousy chopstick skills?  

Somewhere I had too much to dream last night tasting the Electric Prunes,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Thanks Julien, for the lead.
PSS: Also: I was just joking about the improper fork thing and the Japanese. I can also use chopsticks better than most Grade 1 Japanese students. Probably.
PSSS: I guess Spider-man has tasted electricity (or at least his own fillings) every time he battles Electro. 

2 comments:

  1. What about Electro himself. Can he change the taste of food just by thinking what he wants to taste? I think you need to interview him for this blog and find out.

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    Replies
    1. Stay tuned for a shocking tale of Electro turning Buddhist - hear him say "Ohm" as he describes Tesla as a hack.

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