I'm not the most educated person on the planet, but talking with Dan Koboldt this week got me thinking about one of my passions/hobbies: homebrewing. You see, Dan is a researcher on the Human Genome project, and he's studying ways to better understand human DNA. In the episode, he told us about another project that's been going on (studies and some experimentation in China) to figure out how modify DNA.
It reminded me of another project I'd heard about from White Labs where they're working on sequencing yeast DNA to figure out how to get certain properties out of each strain and eliminate others. Or, at the very least, understand how the yeast actually works (aside from basic fermentation, of course).*
Honestly, if I'd been sitting with Dan at a con instead of Skyping with him alongside my two co-hosts at the beginning of VERY busy recording day, I would've tried to spark up a conversation about...YEAST DNA. Yes, yeast. DNA. Why?
Because I LOVE geeking out about beer and brewing! I know next to nothing about yeast (comparatively speaking). But I know even LESS about DNA, be it human or single-cell yeast DNA. Of course, I tried over on Twitter, but because that's such a limited space for decent conversations, and it was the middle of a work day, it didn't really go anywhere. But why would I, a beer geek, want to talk to a human DNA researcher? Surely he knows more than I do about pretty much anything on the science side of the conversation.**
Well that's the point! When I'm interested in a subject and I want to geek out about it with someone else, of course I want to share what I know if it can help them get more enjoyment out of the hobby, but I REALLY want to learn. Because I LOVE LEARNING! To me, the best part of geeking out about a topic is the opportunity to obtain a new, cool piece of information, and if possible, share some, too.
If you get a chance, look into homebrewing. Just do a few minutes of research on the process (beyond a brewery tour). The basic progression from grain to beverage is fascinating. The actual brew day for me, even though exhausting and somewhat stressful, is one of the most relaxing hobbies I participate in. There's a basic ritual to it, a set of steps I have to focus on. It forces me to block out all other distractions, allowing me to step away from the stress of everyday life. Plus, I get beer at the end. Great beer? No. Well, maybe sometimes. But it's drinkable,*** and it's something that teaches me science and makes me use algebra.
Maybe I'll get a chance to geek out again, soon. Like at Denver Comic Con! Or World Con!!
*Scientists probably know a LOT more than just how yeast converts sugars into alcohols, but I DO know they're still learning why certain strains make certain flavors when others may not. Yes, they know a ton, but DNA sequencing will only make this knowledge more extensive.
** He very well could know more about the artsy, crafty side of brewing, too. Which would be awesome because I love talking beer with people who know about beer! Especially when they're not snobs (seriously, if you like Coors Light, enjoy every sip of it!).
***Except once. I made a beer that was SO awful that I couldn't bring myself to share it with ANYONE. Seriously, it was disgusting! And, no, I didn't throw it out. I suffered through every drop of that swill. To teach myself a lesson about sanitation.