ABOUT BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVELS: The amount of alcohol in the blood stream is referred to as Blood Alcohol Level (BAL). It is recorded in milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or milligrams percent. For example, a BAL of .10 means that 1/10 of 1 percent (or 1/1000) of the total blood content is alcohol. When a person drinks alcohol it goes directly from the stomach into the blood stream. This is why people typically feel the effects of alcohol quite quickly, especially if drinking on an empty stomach. BAL depends on the amount of blood (which increases with body weight), and the amount of alcohol consumed over time. Drinking fast will quickly raise a drinker's BAL because the liver can only handle about a drink per hour--the rest builds up in your blood stream. With a BAL of .02, you may experience an increase in body warmth, and a lowering of inhibition; at .05, you are less alert and begin to experience impaired coordination. A BAL of .08 is the legal limit for drunk driving in most states. With a BAL of .15, you experience impaired balance and are noticeably drunk. Many people lose consciousness with a BAL of .30 or higher, and breathing can stop with a BAL of .50, at which point the effects can be fatal.
FROM MARS TO YOUR LIPS: Researchers working for NASA developed an advanced machine able to detect organic molecules at low concentrations, in other words, a way to detect extraterrestrial life. The same technique can be used to analyze wine for compounds likely to cause headaches. Many compounds found in wine can cause headaches, but what the researchers focused on are called amines, a group of compounds strongly connected to neurotransmitters , which cause a different kind of headache than a hangover.
This report has been produced thanks to a generous grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.
The Optical Society of America, contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.