Gadget: Juno – a Microwave for Cooling

Michael Wolf wrote . . . . . . . . .

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You go into the fridge to get a refreshing cold can of your favorite beverage and, surprise surprise, someone forgot to restock the fridge.

Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your roommate. Whoever it is, you’re now the sad sack stuck drinking room temperature beer or wine from a can (and you do drink wine from a can, ok?) wishing someone just had a little more beverage planning foresight.

But what if you could toss that can or bottle into a ‘microwave for cooling’ and almost instantly have an ice-cold beverage?

That’s the utopia that Matrix Industries has in mind with their new Juno Chiller. The product is based on a technology called thermoelectric cooling, which longtime Spoon readers know is based on a principle called the Peltier Effect, which essentially pushes phonons from one place to another through electrical excitement and in turn can remove heat from, say, a refrigerator chamber or a can of pop .

It’s complicated to say the least and I’m not a particle physicist, but what I can do is shoot iPhone video at CES press events that shows you the technology in action:

Matrix is not the only company looking to apply thermoelectric cooling technology to new applications. Phononic has been talking up their solid state cooling technology for some time, but over the past few years have largely focused on commercial refrigeration technologies to displace traditional compressor-based refrigerators.

Spoon readers may also recall others have talked about a “microwave for cooling” before. Frigondas, a startup based in Spain, pitched the idea of an actual microwave that would both heat and flash-freeze. It’s an intriguing idea if they can pull it off, but the company’s largely gone quiet ever since pitching in it 2017 and 2018.

Matrix, on the other hand, seems to be just getting started with their product and plan on releasing their home beverage cooler later this year. If you want to get in on the cold drink action, they’ve launched an Indiegogo for the Juno Chiller, which would allow you get the beverage cooling appliance for half off ($199) in August if everything goes according plan.

As you can see by the product hero reel below, the final consumer edition will look much different than the working prototype shown above, featuring a much taller chamber that will allow you to chill everything from a can of beer to a bottle of wine.

Source: The Spoon

Chocolate Sponge Pudding


4 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
3 oz self-raising floor
pinch of salt
1/2 oz cornstarch
1/2 oz cocoa powder
2 oz plain chocolate, melted with 1 tablespoon warm milk


  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale in colour. Add the eggs, a little at a time.
  2. Sift the flour, salt, cornstarch and cocoa powder. Fold into the creamed mixture. Add the melted chocolate and milk mixture and stir to make a soft mixture that will fall easily from a spoon.
  3. Grease a 1-lb foil pudding basin and spoon in the mixture. Cover with buttered heavy duty foil with a pleat in the centre to allow for expansion. Secure the foil around the rim of-the basin with string. Stand the basin in a saucepan with boiling water one third up the sides of the basin and steam for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Serve with hot chocolate sauce.
  5. To freeze: Cool quickly, place in a plastic bag, seal and freeze.
  6. To serve: Thaw at room temperature for 4 hours. Reheat by steaming for 45 minutes as above.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Freezer Cookery Book

In Japan, Delicious Mochi are a New Year Tradition – as are Warnings about the Danger of Choking

Julian Ryall wrote . . . . . . . . .

This New Year, Japanese authorities have warned revellers not to bite off more than they can chew when consuming traditional mochi rice cakes – and the warning has become as much of an annual tradition as the delicacy.

The National Police Agency and the Fire and Disaster Management Agency have teamed up for a promotional blitz on the dangers associated with the snack. An essential part of the menu over the holidays, mochi are made of pounded rice. They can be grilled, cooked in a broth with vegetables, or filled with sweet beans.

However when they are served, there is a danger that anyone who bites off too large a piece and fails to chew it sufficiently will find it lodged in their throat.

The appeal for people to be careful when they eat mochi is an annual one – but is not always closely heeded.

Every year, the Japanese media keeps a close watch on the death toll from mochi, with two deaths reported last year. The authorities will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the first few days of 2015, when no fewer than 18 people were admitted to hospitals in Tokyo alone and three died.

Across the country that year, nine people died, 128 were hospitalised and 18 people were reported to be in a “serious” condition after eating mochi.

One of the victims was an 80-year-old man in Nagasaki Prefecture who had eaten a mochi that had been given out for free at his local shrine.

The authorities are instructing people to cut their mochi into small pieces and to eat with great care, chewing thoroughly and slowly before attempting to swallow. They also suggest that anyone who wants to eat mochi not do it alone in case they get into difficulties.

Another tactic many families employ is to make sure that a vacuum cleaner is close at hand so it can be placed in the mouth of anyone who is choking to suck out the offending morsel. If a vacuum cleaner is not available, the authorities counsel a vigorous slap on the back to dislodge the glutinous delicacy.

The emergency services are in particular cautioning great care among the very young and the elderly, with old people accounting for around 80 per cent of the victims each year.

Source: SCMP

Need to Control Blood Sugar? There’s a Drink for That

With more people with diabetes and pre-diabetes looking for novel strategies to help control blood sugar, new research from UBC’s Okanagan campus suggests that ketone monoester drinks—a popular new food supplement—may help do exactly that.

“There has been a lot of excitement and interest in ketone drinks and supplements, which have really only been on the market and available to consumers for the last couple of years,” says Jonathan Little, associate professor at UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences and study lead author. “Because they’re so new, there’s very little research on how they can influence metabolism and we’re among the first to look at their use in non-athletes.”

Little says that Type 2 diabetes is a disease whereby the body is unable to control the level of sugar in the blood because defects in the functioning of a hormone called insulin.

“It’s a disease that’s becoming alarmingly common in Canada and approaching what many would consider epidemic levels,” he says. “While Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with medications or injectable insulin, many people are looking to options that don’t require taking pills every day or that are less invasive.”

Ketone supplements are proving fertile ground for research into Type 2 diabetes because, according to Little, ketones are the natural fuel source of the body when it’s in ketosis—the metabolic byproduct of consuming a low carbohydrate, ketogenic diet.

“There is mounting evidence that a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet is very effective in controlling blood sugar and even reversing Type 2 diabetes,” says Little. “We wanted to know what would happen if artificial ketones were given to those with obesity and at risk for Type 2 diabetes but who haven’t been dieting.”

To test the idea, Little and his team asked 15 people to consume a ketone drink after fasting overnight. After 30 minutes, they were then asked to drink a fluid containing 75 grams of sugar while blood samples were taken.

“It turns out that the ketone drink seemed to launch participants into a sort of pseudo-ketogenic state where they were better able to control their blood sugar levels with no changes to their insulin,” explains Little. “It demonstrates that these supplements may have real potential as a valuable tool for those with Type 2 diabetes.”

Little is quick to point out that ketone supplements are not a magic bullet in managing the disease.

“There are a number of problems that we still have to work out, including the fact that we still don’t know what the long-term effects of consuming ketones are,” he says. “And not to mention that the drink itself tastes absolutely terrible.”

“But for those that aren’t able to follow a strict and challenging ketogenic diet or for those that are looking for a new way to control blood sugars, this may be another strategy in helping to manage Type 2 diabetes.”

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Source: UBC’s Okanagan campus

Want to Turn Back the Aging Clock? Train for a Marathon

Dennis Thompson wrote . . . . . . . . .

Your New Year’s resolution to run a marathon for the first time could be your ticket to a younger and healthier heart, a new study suggests.

First-time marathon runners experience health benefits that essentially turn back time on their circulatory system, researchers report.

“Training for a marathon — even as a novice runner — has significant benefits on the cardiovascular system and is able to ‘reverse’ the effects of aging that we find in the major blood vessels by four years,” said senior researcher Dr. Charlotte Manisty. She is a consultant cardiologist with the Institute of Cardiovascular Science at University College London and Barts Heart Center in London.

Six months of training for the London Marathon made study participants’ blood vessels more flexible and healthy, and reduced their blood pressure about as much as medications would, Manisty said.

What’s more, the benefits were greater for people who were older or started off less fit, Manisty added.

In essence, regular exercise can be looked at as a fountain of youth, said Barry Franklin, director of cardiac rehabilitation and exercise laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

“Exercise has anti-aging effects,” Franklin said. “This study shows that, without question.”

Manisty and Franklin agreed that anyone undertaking an exercise program for an endurance event in other sports — bicycling, swimming, triathlons — could expect to see similar heart-health benefits.

For this study, Manisty and her colleagues followed 138 healthy first-time marathon runners from the 2016 and 2017 London Marathons. The runners varied in age from 21 to 69, with an average age of 37, and were split evenly between men and women.

The researchers tested blood pressure and the stiffness of each participant’s aorta — the body’s major artery — before they embarked on six months of training and again after they completed the marathon.

Stiffening arteries are a normal part of aging, but this makes the heart work harder by forcing it to pump blood through narrow vessels less capable of enlarging to allow for better blood flow, the study authors said in background notes.

The participants were handed a beginners’ training plan provided by marathon organizers, which consisted of three runs per week that increase in difficulty as the main event comes closer. The runs tended to vary between six to 13 miles a week.

Training decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 4 and 3 points, on average, the findings showed. It also improved the ability of the aorta to swell under pressure by 9%.

This equates to shaving four years off the age of their aortas, the researchers said.

“Importantly, the levels of fitness attained can be easily achieved by almost everyone, and those who were least fit appeared to derive most benefit, suggesting that even modest increases in fitness are likely to have significant beneficial effects,” Manisty said.

Setting a goal like running a marathon can help a person stick to a fitness program, she said, and it also encourages them to make other lifestyle improvements, such as eating healthy or getting better sleep.

“However, this goal need not be a marathon,” Manisty said. “Goal-directed training at any level that is sustained will have health benefits.”

Franklin said this jibes with other studies that have found that regular exercise can lower a person’s risk of heart attack by up to 50%, by improving blood pressure, reducing cholesterol levels and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

Despite this, there’s an “immense paradox” at the heart of Americans’ relationship with exercise, Franklin said.

“There’s a growing body of scientific evidence highlighting the benefits of regular exercise, yet we have a physical inactivity pandemic in the United States,” Franklin said. “Because of technology, we’re literally engineering physical activity out of our lives, and we’re paying a terrible price with increased risk of chronic diseases.”

One heart expert noted that marathon training could be a springboard into a healthier life.

“Regular exercise is beneficial for prevention of cardiovascular disease. What’s crucial is long-term commitment to building exercise into lifestyle,” said Dr. Lawrence Krakoff, a cardiologist at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “If this study encourages that transition, it could have an important positive impact on healthy aging.”

According to Harvard Medical School, to play it safe, people embarking on a fitness goal should:

  • Ease into your training regimen, starting off slow and increasing your activity level gradually.
  • Pay attention to pain in your joints, bones and muscles, which can be signs of an overuse injury, and get it checked out by a doctor.
  • Listen to your body. Don’t exercise when you’re feeling sick or very fatigued, and take time off if you’re having trouble finishing an exercise session or recuperating afterward.
  • Dress properly for outdoor exercise based on the weather, and be sure to drink plenty of water.

Folks in the middle of an endurance event also should resist the urge to push harder as the finish line draws near, Franklin added.

“People tend to try to sprint at the very end over the last quarter mile to improve their time,” Franklin said. But at that point, they probably are dehydrated with a high body temperature and elevated blood pressure — all conditions that could contribute to a potentially dangerous irregular heart rate.

The new study appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Source: HealthDay

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