Consciousness and how it got to be that way

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Scorpion Peppers, and Partial Agonists in Molecular Gastronomy

Above: pain

Trinidad scorpion peppers are the hottest peppers in the world, and will actually blister your skin if you touch the oil. If Clive Barker bred his own pepper, these would be it. (1,500,000 Scovilles; compare to a jalapeno's 8,000.) Back in May, for some sadomasochistic reason, my friend had a party where he invited people to a feast of these Lovecraftian abominations. Surprisingly, some idiots accepted his invitation. Not surprisingly, all of them had Y chromosomes. Even less surprisingly I was among them.

The reason I'm posting this here is because my otherwise inexplicable behavior afforded me a chance to test a theory. Years ago, I'd noticed that when I'd put too many jalapenos on something, a minute later I ate some spicy but not really hot barbecue sauce, and thought I noticed that the heat abated quickly. If the heat is caused by different capsaicinoids (a critical assumption as it turns out!) it's possible the barbecue sauce capsaicinoid acted as a partial agonist at the receptor, decreasing the heat from the jalapenos. The agonist for the current experiment would be the scorpion pepper, and the partial agonist, Tabasco sauce. Many of the people at the party were medicinal chemists who were interested in this hypothesis; specifically, in watching someone else test it. Medicinal chemists are bad people.

The stakes were high: if I failed, not only would my theory be falsified (in front of a bunch of medicinal chemists no less) but I would be in considerable pain. As if to highlight the risks, when I got there the host was walking around with an ice pack under his shirt, and the only guy that ate a whole one was actually crying from the pain. (Warning, language. Trust me, if you did this you would have language too.)


But I don't think this can be considered a valid result until it's replicated. Perhaps you would be interested in being a subject?

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