Friday, April 14, 2006

Is Synthehol Possible?

And do we want it?

For the uninitiated, Synthehol is a Star Trek creation - an alcohol with none of the negative side-effects of real alcohol. In this article, Professor David Nutt, a psychopharmacologist at the University of Bristol in the UK, believes that there is no scientific reason why it cannot be created now.

I must admit my thoughts are mixed on the subject. In general, I'm all in favor of technological solutions to problems. And the problem of hangovers, liver damage, and memory loss due to alcohol consumption should be no exception. But if we had an alcohol with none of the side-effects, I suspect people would drink more. This would increase drunk-driving incidents and I have no idea what Synthehol would do to alcoholics. I'm not one to moralize about chemical recreation, so long as it doesn't put other people in danger. But it's probably going to happen, so I should stop worrying. And we've had many years of really educating people about the dangers of driving drunk, so perhaps this wouldn't really add to the problem?

For myself, I wonder about the effect on taste. It doesn't sound like you make Synthehol beverages in the same way as good old-fashion alcoholic beverages. I don't expect fine syntheholic wines or beers.

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