41 Amy Stewart - The Science Behind the World's Alcohol

It's the 4th of July, and you love your country. Your likely next step: Fire off some small scale explosives, and drink a lot of beer. But that last word ought to trouble you a little. Beer? Is that really the best you can do? Isn't it a little, er, uncreative? Amy Stewart, our guest this week, has some better ideas for you. Author of the New York Times bestselling book The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create The World's Great Drinks, she's a master of the wild diversity of ways in which, since time immemorial, human civilizations (virtually all of them) have created alcoholic drinks from the sugars of their native plants. It seems human beings pretty much always find a way when it comes to getting hammered. Indeed, when you think about it, you can argue that learning how to do so was one of the first human sciences. In a sense, it's closely akin to capturing and using solar energy: Making alcohol, too, hinges upon tapping into the power created by the sun. "It is not much of an exaggeration to claim that the very process that gives us the raw ingredients for brandy and beer is the same one that sustains life on the planet," writes Stewart in The Drunken Botanist. This episode also features a conversation with Mother Jones reporter Molly Redden about how the Supreme Court flubbed reproductive health science in the Hobby Lobby case, and of Facebook's troubling recent study that involved trying to alter users' emotional states. iTunes: itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/inquiring-minds/id711675943 RSS: feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds Stitcher: stitcher.com/podcast/inquiring-minds

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