back to article Soylent Corporation prepares to DEFEAT FOOD

Credulous geeks have poured over $130,000 into a fantastic food replacement named "Soylent," a substance whose creators aim to "free your body" from the need to eat solids ever again. The ludicrously ambitious and suspiciously under-skilled Soylent Corporation announced its crowdfunding campaign on Tuesday and within hours had …

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What? It isn't green?

See title.

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Re: What? It isn't green?

The investors are green; isn't that enough?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What? It isn't green?

If you watch the film there are references to other colours of "soylent" - however I recall supplies being described as being "limited" ... the "green" variety, I think, was a last step when the raw materials for the original versions became scarce and they had to turn to a more "natural" source.

Googling has pointed me to a spoof soylent corp page that details the history of their products and the first one was indeed Soylent Yellow! Only difference was that came in 1999

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Pint

Re: What? It isn't green?

Nah, it needs to get approved first, then they can release the "green" version. ;-)

Beer - well, you'll need something to wash your brother-in-law down with...

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Re: What? It isn't green?

The Green one was the one made of people, but the others (theoretically) weren't.

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Naming a product after a fictional glop made out of ground up human bodies sounds a little silly.

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Happy

Well, maybe it is made from people...

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Anonymous Coward

I thought it was made of soy and lentils (thus the origin of the name--it's a portmanteau), as espoused by the original novel "Make Room! Make Room!"

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It might sound silly but it's got me curious to try it. Calling themselves Soylent has a certain enantiodromic genius to it; the perverse (in the Jungian sense) aspect of human nature being what it is, I can see it being quite successful.

I tend to identify with old Sol (Edward Robinson) from the Soylent Green movie because I'll be around his age in the year that it was set. And the world probably will be like that then. One particularly poignant scene has Sol reminiscing when he sees the "real beef" that Thorn has brought round to eat. I can see myself living that same scene, once the vegie-fanatics have gotten meat banned on the grounds of agricultural efficiency and saving the environment, and the world population passes 12 billion so most people are eating glop anyway.

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Well, maybe it is made from people...

I think it's made from incredulous crowd source.

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Re: Well, maybe it is made from people...

Mmmm. Crowd sauce is the tastiest sauce.

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" the perverse (in the Jungian sense) aspect of human nature being what it is, I can see it being quite successful."

What he said.

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Cooking

Cooking was originally invented because it makes the food fucking delicious. Any other aspects of cooking were nifty add on benefits realized later.

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Boffin

Re: Cooking

I badly screwed up logic and grammar, so I withdrew my first attempt. I'll try again:

Umm, probably the other way round. First tentative evidence of cooking is from about 1 million years ago - before modern humans and before our ancestor could talk. You get 25-40% more energy out of cooked food, and so this would have been a real boost to our ancestors.

This explanation is evolutionary. Those creatures that prefer, say, fatty food (when fatty food was rare) to tree bark survived periods of famine better. Those preferences are genetic, and so are selected for if they have positive outcomes. Over time slight preferences become strengthened and universal if they are strongly beneficial. This happened in our ancient history for high calorie food, so a good number of species love fatty and/or sugary food. As mentioned above, evidence of fire-making and cooked bones is strong at 200,000 years, and probable for up to 800,000 years before that.

'[Cooking] makes the food fucking delicious' is therefore the evolved response to cooked food giving us more calories.

Interestingly cooked foods (those delicious crusty brown bits) are slightly carcinogenic to animals like rats but not to us (well, *red* and processed meats are, but that's another story). This is almost certainly another adaptation in our species that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

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Holmes

Re: Cooking

All those things sound fine as well as wholly academic. If you've ever lived on a very limited selection of food then you'll know that after a while you start to do strange things with it to see if you can change the way it tastes, even animals demonstrate this because they get bored too.

Human-esque creatures would have known that different foods have a variety of tastes under different conditions so trying a piece of lightning blasted elk or just throwing something onto a fire to see what happens then trying the remains just for kicks seems much more plausible than an evolutionary instinct to heat a food to an optimal temperature in order to maximize available energy. Over cooked food loses its energy and nutrient potential and naturally cooked or primitively cooked food is far more likely to be cooked several orders of magnitude beyond medium rare. If anything I would argue that evolution would have driven ancient man to conserve energy by minimizing the effort put into preparing the food. It takes an enormous amount of energy to prepare an animal for a good BBQ.

Sometimes simple and mundane answers are the best. Nature isn't really very complicated, there's nothing outlandish or demeaning in thinking that somewhere in the distant past Ug said 'holy shit, this T-Rex tastes awesome after a little fire you should try some'. (Ignore the mashing together of species timelines for the sake of comic relief).

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Re: Cooking

AndrewA» before modern humans and before our ancestor could talk

Is there evidence for this? Were the vocal cords of earlier hominids so poorly developed that speech was not possible? Or did you mean to say that we have no evidence of speech or language from a million years ago.

I'm not saying that you are wrong. The allegation just seems wrong.

I would regard cooking as being primarily useful for making meat safe and old meat eatable (by stewing). It's really not good if you have to eat all of the meat immediately. Not everyone had access to salt.

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Happy

Re: Cooking

"Cooking was originally invented because it makes the food fucking delicious. "

And that's true of all food.

Don't eat meat.

Eat vegetarians.

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Boffin

Re: Cooking

@deadlockvictim:

The most recent evidence I've seen for cooking is: http://www.nature.com/news/million-year-old-ash-hints-at-origins-of-cooking-1.10372

In summary: there is some contentious evidence of controlled fire with bone fragments in Wonderwerk Cave in the Northern Cape province in South Africa, dated to about 1mya. There is much stronger evidence of cooking dating to 400kya, which is still some 200k years before the emergence of modern humans.

As for talking (as opposed to simple vocalisations), this is even more contentious. The Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_language) is a good summary, positing the first controlled vocalisations were from Homo heidelbergensis (600-200kya for certain, but perhaps as old as 1-1.3mya).

Compared to heidelbergensis, Neanderthals (300kya) had a much enlarged hypoglossal nerve (for control of the tongue) and throat bone (hyoid) similar to ours indicating language had started by this time.

With regard to meat going off, I'll have to disagree with you. There are numerous species that eat rotting/rotten meat such as lions, hyenas and vultures (yea!) without harm. Indeed humans do too - here's a link to Reddit on the topic: http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/19ztos/why_is_it_that_animals_can_eat_rotten_meat_and/c8syno1

I actually saw the documentary seen by jetpacksforall - it made my stomach churn just looking at it, but only the ethnographer and crew seemed concerned in any way. I suspect that those children that can't fight of the bacteria don't make it to reproducing age :(

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Cooking

"The most recent evidence I've seen for cooking is... [million years ago]"

The most recent evidence *I* have seen of cooking was from the missus in the kitchen just yesterday.

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Re: Cooking

As for talking (as opposed to simple vocalisations), this is even more contentious. The Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origin_of_language) is a good summary, positing the first controlled vocalisations were from Homo heidelbergensis (600-200kya for certain, but perhaps as old as 1-1.3mya).

And, of course, this doesn't cover other kinds of symbolic interaction, such as declarative pointing and other gestures that are basically linguistic and are unknown among non-Homo primates. That said, I agree that there's at least some evidence to suggest cooking preceded talking per se; at any rate, the basic point that cooking has been around longer than H. sapiens seems pretty safe.

With regard to meat going off, I'll have to disagree with you.

And it may not be relevant anyway. There's decent evidence that the first hominids to cook food likely got most of their non-arthropod animal-protein foodstuffs from scavenging, and what they mostly got was marrow from the larger bones that were too tough for smaller scavengers - hence archaeological evidence of bone work sites, where bones were systematically cracked open with rocks. So there's reason to hypothesize that cooking started as a way to extract more nutrients from bone cavities once the accessible marrow had been pulled out. Cooking meat in any quantity may very well have come later, when hominids began hunting larger animals on a regular, organized basis.

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Boffin

Re: Cooking

Thanks for those great points.

We can throw in another: Endurance running which is associated either with a scavenging lifestyle or with running down prey until they collapse with heat exhaustion. While Homo habilis had some of the necessary characteristics, a much fuller set are present in H. erectus. (http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/krigbaum/proseminar/Bramble_Leib_2004_nature.pdf). This is suggestive that in H. erectus meat (or large animal fat and meat) were increasingly important food sources.

It's worth laying out a time line here:

~2mya, Homo habilis: Diet was mainly vegetarian but likely included insects, small animals and possibly a very small amount of meat (c.f. chimpanzees who's diet include 5% meat)

1.8mya->300kya, Homo erectus: Evidence scavenging mammal long bones and cracking them open for marrow. First evidence for controlled fire and cooking at 1mya. Strong evidence for endurance running.

~600-200kya, Homo heidelbergensis: Strong evidence for cooking. First evidence for symbolic thought .

~300-30kya, Homo neanderthalis: Enlarged hyperglossal nerve, anatomically similar hyoid, modern FOXP2 allele, strong evidence for symbolic thought; this is strong evidence for language.

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Facepalm

Is May 21st the new April 1st?

Anyone calling a nutritional drink "Soylent" is either having a lark; depending on very twisted viral marketing; or is in for a nasty surprise when they google their product's name for the first time.

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Re: Is May 21st the new April 1st?

"Twisted viral marketing" is probably the right one here.

Kudos to you for putting the concept so simply BTW; it beats my effort to explain the principle via references to Jungian perversion and enantiodromia in my post higher up this forum!

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Re: Is May 21st the new April 1st?

Upvote for using "Jungian" in a Reg comment.

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Case closed.

"We asked Soylent if this was an elaborate hoax and Rhinehart said it wasn't."

Well then it isn't. Case closed.

; )

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Re: Case closed.

He's right. It's not elaborate at all.....

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Does it come as bacon flavored?

If not then it will fail...

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But...

I like a nice tasty steak, with a nice baked potato. Heavy on the chives, bacon, and sour cream on the potato.

Vegetables? Not if I can help it (my wife has other ideas though (*SIGH*)).

If this was "ideal" restaurants would be out of business. What do you do for that nice "conversation over dinner"?

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Re: But...

Ahh, the McVimes Blt..

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Unhappy

Re: But...

For some reason there seem to be a section of engineer/geek culture who aspire to spend as little time, effort or money on food as is possible. They'd happily live off this sludge if it was cheap and they didn't ever have to think about eating again. It's bizarrely aspirational for them.

Personally I aspire to having tastier food, having a great variety, I enjoy spending time cooking for/with friends and generally think food is great. Some folks OTOH seem to be proud of the fact they've eaten the same thing for lunch every day for several years.

Deeply odd.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But...

Vegetables? Not if I can help it (my wife has other ideas though (*SIGH*)).

But if we apply the old adage that 'you are what you eat', then the meat of any vegetarian creature is simply an efficient delivery medium for all the vegetables you could possibly need to consume!

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Re: But...

and what was your point again?

everyone's different

some people prefer to be a slaves to their bodies and try to fulfill every whim of their bodies, because if makes them "feel" good.

others see their bodies as a biological machinery with its purpose to sustain their sapience. food is just a fuel

if we weren't different from each other, humans would have become extinct a long time ago

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Re: But...

For some reason there seem to be a section of engineer/geek culture who aspire to spend as little time, effort or money on food as is possible. They'd happily live off this sludge if it was cheap and they didn't ever have to think about eating again. It's bizarrely aspirational for them.

I was going to mention the "food is fuel" philosophy (common among a subspecies of gym-rat, which has some intersection with engineers and geeks but not a lot), but I see Grave beat me to it.

Yes, people have different affective attachments, and some aren't attached to food. I wouldn't want to live that way either, but clearly it makes some folks happy.

Personally, I'm more concerned that the folks at Soylent seem to believe they have a comprehensive list of the nutrients people need. I don't know any respectable biologist who thinks we've identified all of them. (I don't know any respectable nutritionist who does either, but that may be because I've never met a respectable nutritionist.)

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Alien

Re: But...

"some people prefer to be a slaves to their bodies and try to fulfill every whim of their bodies, because if makes them "feel" good."

Yeah, because enjoying what you eat is slavish, weak and decadent. LOL.

others see their bodies as a biological machinery with its purpose to sustain their sapience. food is just a fuel

These are robots, not people.

if we weren't different from each other, humans would have become extinct a long time ago

There's different and there's alien.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But...

"I don't know any respectable nutritionist who does either, but that may be because I've never met a respectable nutritionist."

Dara O'Briain talked about this in one of his shows...

"Here's my favorite little fact. If anyone is ever described to you as a nutritionist, just be slightly wary, right? What they're saying may be perfectly true, but "nutritionist" isn't a protected term. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. "Dietician" is the legally protected term. "Dietician" is like "dentist", and "nutritionist" is like "tooth-i-ologist."

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Facepalm

Geeks.....

When I first saw this I thought why are the "Greeks" putting money into this....

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Re: Geeks.....

Same here. I thought it had something to do with economic reform.

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Re: Geeks.....

Also beware of Geeks bearing gifts.

That shiny USB mouse might have something extra inside.

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Re: Geeks.....

To hell with our delicious gyros and salads! It's all pablum from now on.

Austerity takes an even grimmer turn...

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As always, the main problem...

Is that any possible negative effects will only manifest itself after many years of usage, by which its usually a bit too late. There is a reason why its usually healthier to follow a varied pattern for your food...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As always, the main problem...

any possible negative effects will only manifest itself after many years of usage

I don't think it's going to take that long. Notice the absence of any roughage in the product, so unhappy bowels in 3.. 2.. 1.. I'm never quite sure it's called having the runs because you need to be damn quick when it happens or because it, well, runs and runs. I'm not buying it, in more ways than one.

At this point, my mind throws in a reference to Bill Connolly colon examination, so I'll just post this and then mine Youtube for it :)

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Thank goodness for snake oil salespersons

If there weren't an endless stream of "revolutionary" and "all natural" and "organic" food products guaranteed to make your wee filled with unabsorbed vitamins and minerals...people would spend their money on truly horrible things.

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Anonymous Coward

Resources?

And how many resources does it take to make this stuff, vs. making food the old fashioned way? If it takes more energy, more water, more arable land to make this stuff than to grow veggies and meat, what's the point?

And as for this "I've been living off this stuff and I'm fine" argument - the human body isn't some shrinking violet that will curl up and die if you don't feed it exactly what it needs to very tight tolerances. Amazingly enough, it can handle a wide range of inputs and continue to function remarkably well. You can be seriously malnourished and still be "OK" for quite a period of time.

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Stop

Re: Resources?

Exactly my thought when I read the article for the first time. With the planet going the way it is going, the question is less and less "will we have a perfect food" and more and more "will we have any food at all?".

And, on the other note, yes, apparent lack of fibre in this stuff is fishy at the best.

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This proves that Charton Heston Starring in the 1973 movie "Soylent Green" has passed by most of these. Maybe it was named differently.

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Movie and Book

Had everyone in the world only read Harry Harrison's "Make Room, Make Room", a science-fiction novel in which Soylent Green was made from soybeans and lentils, as one might expect, there would be no problem.

Given the movie, however, this is obviously a joke of the April Fool's variety.

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- "If you close your eyes, it's almost like you're eating runny eggs."

- "Yea, or a bowl of snot!"

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Exactly what I though when I read the words "providing all the calories and nutrients the human body requires".

You nailed it, sir !

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