From the Vault: Cupid's Leaden Arrow
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I can compete with the best in the world and just perform listened to the only way through available now on the Iheartradio uh-huh APP or wherever you get your podcast. Hey welcome to stuff to blow your mind. Signed my name is Robert Lamb and Joe McCormack. And it's Saturday time to go into the old vault this time for an episode that originally aired on Valentine's Day of Twenty nineteen and that's right cupid's Laden aero this one is about. It's been a number of things you get get a little bit of cupid mythology in this episode and also also a lot of discussions of ladd. Like what is led and then how have we used and arguably misuse lead over the years you get to learn all about the culinary virtues accuse of lead don't Cook with lead but you'll find out why in the episode so Let's jump right in there from his quiver full of shafts to arrows did did he take of sundry works. One causes love the other doth slake that causes love is all of gold with point full sharp and bright that chases love is blunt who steal with leaden head is dight. Welcome to stuff to blow your mind from how stuff works DOT com. Hey welcome to stuff to blow your mind. My name is Robert Lamb. And I'm Joe McCormick and so obviously. We're talking about Cuba today that's right. It's Valentine's Day is it. Yes is it actually Valentine's Yes actual Valentine's Day okay. Yeah so we figured well we gotTA. We gotta do some sort of Valentine's up so we had the the episode where we talked to tomorrow heart previously but this is the day itself towers of snail. Sex Yeah so it seemed proper to get a little mythological with the logical here as we kick off this episode and to turn to that mythological figure that got of romantic love cupid. The creepy smooth baby who shoots arrows with heart tips. Yes now the the reading of the top of the episode was was Ovid is the metamorphosis the golding translation so it was how you get words like dight which means clothed or equipped. I had to look that one up. Yeah it might not be completely clear but what Ovid of it is basically saying is hey cupid has two different Eros that he may pull from his quiver. We often forget this or maybe never even learned it in the first place right right. If you're just going off of cheesy Valentine's Day cards you just think of that cartoon baby and like you said the arrows have just kind of a goofy cartoon heart at the end. And then Cupid's launch knows that people in making them fallen cartoon love with people. Yeah well you tend to not think of Cupid's Arrow as literally being an Arrow that strikes with force and penetrates. It's the flesh. I guess we are to understand it that way. At least the ancients did like. There's this poem by Cree on that Robert and I were talking about before the episode where it's not actually that great of a poem. I don't know if it's worth reading but it makes this joke about. Cupid gets stung by a bee and he starts crying and his mother. I guess this would be Aphrodite. or Venus maybe NBC comes to him and is trying to console him and says you know you're crying about being stung by a bee but you shoot people with arrows all the time. That must hurt more. Shot through the heart. Yeah so he. He has two different arrows that he he chooses from when he decides to to nail somebody one one of these arrows as the as Ovid says is tipped in gold with a sharp point and bright right and so that's the that's the love Arrow that is the the romantic take love Arrow. But then he has this lead in Ero yes which It sounds like it's it's probably not an arrowhead. Composed entirely of lead for reasons. Seasons will explain but it is at least coded or Tipton led somehow we'll and also says it is blunt meaning I assume it is not meant to penetrate but maybe strikes likes more like a like a beanbag gun. Yeah like just a brain you. Yeah with dense leading Arrowhead yeah just just smack your heart and then it also also it imparts aversion so like hits you and now you you WanNa you wanNA be around somebody. I guess this. This seems to be the most popular Interpretation Nation of the leading arrows. Power though I was looking around And I did see at least one description saying that the lead and Ero had to do with sensual passion. But but I don't think that's the predominant interpretation certainly not the one that we're going to spend much time with here today. Consensual passion there are other gods for that Cubans domain gene is more about That that that romantic passion the arrows. or or the fellows I lose track of what love is what in Greek Philadelphia. We'll be. We'll be getting into the Greek and Roman stuff shortly. Okay but yes. We're GONNA be talking about Cuban and I do. I do encourage everyone to maybe put aside the the more cherubic interpretations of of Cupid as we discuss This figure because we have to remember he is a God. He is capable of Of of a wreck in people's lives with his mischief. Yeah and he's not always always depicted as a as a baby he's he's often too is usually depicted as youthful certainly and that may be a a male youth or a boy. He's very often depicted naked or nearly so and sometimes he's blindfolded as well. I flip this blind right. Oh Yeah I didn't think of that. Well I think he's often depicted as a baby just because if he were an adult he would be a horrifying gross cre- pray while they're still. There's always room to find cupid creepy. For sure are well who is. Where do you come from in the Pantheon and the mythology? Okay so Cuban is the Roman variant of the Greek God Eros the Primeval Evil God of love a son of chaos though in later traditions. He is depicted as a son of Aphrodite. Eighty who's the Roman Venus Goddess Goddess of sexual love and beauty. And as far as the father goes. It's all across the board. They're very different ellings. Sometimes it's Zeus. Sometimes it's it's aries There's at least one version where it's It's it seems like it's Vulcan. The God of the forge but in a lot of stories have it had Hermes as the father of course is the Roman mercury so as a real Mari show. Yes yeah you can very much imagine there being a lot of drama around this. But he's a god of passion and love but also a fertility to a certain extent as well now traditions. Cubit is largely described as a sign of Venus Jason Mercury combining their roles into that of a divine messenger of love. Okay so mercury is the Messenger Aphrodite. He is loved so he brings you the the love signals. Signals the He he's he's the radar love. God Yeah don't you so you can't really hate the Messenger Right That's part of the story here as well now. He's often depicted it. Is this kind of Cherubic. Creature like describe it also sometimes as more of a you know an androgynous. Youthful figure sometimes clad in armor things. I guess love is also a battlefield battlefield right and he sometimes a mischief maker other times a generous patron of love. His targets include both mortals and other other gods and as always the versions of the myth vary with the teller and the time But we certainly want to to tell the the major acute story. We'll tell me the story robber all right so his mother again is Venus and Venus has a is subject to bouts of jealousy and pretty much like all of the major gods in the Pantheon right right and so she one day she has had enough of this beautiful moral by the name of psyche. She's just two two lovely. She's so lovely that other morals are afraid to approach her and in Venus's in having it she tasks her son. Cupid says go to this woman. Shoot her with Golden Arrow of love and then make her fall in love with first thing she sees the power of the Arrow in this In this interpretation of it and she adds make sure that the next thing she sees is the most hideous creature imaginable. I don't care what it is. Use your imagination. She falls in love with the font papyrus that would have been good So keep it keep. It goes down to Earth to do this but he can't quite bring himself to finish the task though he was certainly okay with the plan enough to trick her parents into abandoning her on a desolate hilltop. So that she could wed a monster but as far as because she's taking psyche is taken to this hill off here. You go sorry. The gods wanted to marry a monster. It's going to happen. See you later you to do. What the gods say are suffer okay? But then he can't actually shooter with the Arrows to instead he picks himself with the Golden Arrow and then gazes upon psyche falls in love with her and so he takes her away sets up in a protected a place like a palace somewhere where he can visit her safely but only and darkness and then but then one night she cast light upon him and she learns his identity spilling wax on him in the process and he flees okay so psyche is distraught. She's she's in love with this. This God this beautiful young God boys so she searches for him and finally Venus agrees to hand him mm over but only if she completes a series of trials. Oh yeah never a good sign a myth right now. You get the feeling that a lot of these trials might be tricks. Yes and indeed they are. The exact trials can vary with the telling but this is the the basic roll out here first of all she has has to sort a massive pile of seeds in a single night okay and fortunately some ants helper. Oh that's a great variation on all the tweety birds and skunks and the Snow White Right Story. They'll come in and help with chores. Now it's aunts and who knows maybe spiders pitch in a bit. Well the next task is that she has to fetch the Golden Holden Wolf from a monstrous sheep Kinda sheet that disemboweled. Anyone who gets near it. Oh and swarm of cockroaches a sister no actually river. God helps her out and helps her. Acquire the wool so she turns that in but then she has to venture into the underworld and acquire a drop of the Queen of the underworld world to beauty. uh-huh yeah so Cuban. It seems ends up. Sort of clinger. Anson's are some signals going to the underworld isn't easy right. Yeah it's it's a a dangerous proposition. So cute closer in secret messages letting her know make sure you bring coins Theron and treats for service important things bring along right so she does this she wins. That drop. Brings it back in a golden box and brings it to the surface. She's on her way to deliver delivered to Venus but then she decides I'm going to steal a little bit of that beauty from the box for myself Oh and then she discovers the boxes full of sleep sleep comes over. Her acute wakes up gives her the nectar of the Gods and makes her a God as well the embodiment of the soul and she later gives birth to pleasure. That's a heck of a story Lori. Oh yeah there are. Various treatments of the story Various additional stories such as beauty and the beast take this basic structure and then you know employees at on a slightly different manner by yeah. It's the major cupid narrative. But there's also a fun. One that employs his Eros in an interesting way in we both of them this time as he messes with the God Apollo so Apollo is a powerful. God and he's he's he's lusting. After the nymph Daphne and while he's in the midst of this he taunts Cupid's archery ability not much of an archer. Are you and so. It's always good to taunt people holding ranged weapons. Well again. The gods are vain and you know it's in vengeful and but also Kinda stupid at times so what to keep does is he shoots Apollo with the Golden Arrow that makes him. Of course you know. Less like crazy after Daphne. But then he shoots Daphne with the lead in Aero ensuring that that she wants nothing to do with exactly in fact she runs away to her father who also happens to be a river guide and has him turn her into a tree so that Apollo will leave. You've heard alone now. No and then cupid goes off and laughs about the whole affair. Now wait after. This is Apollo still in love with the tree or not it really depends on on the user agreement with the Golden Era. How does the Golden Arrow magic word can you transform the essence of the target of the affection? And does that. Cancel the spell or do you have to roll a d twenty to find out. I don't know and then we are the effects. On God's to is that a little different than an effect on a mortal who can say now you might might think Okay cupid sounds like he makes an enemies here and there who's his greatest rival. Is there like a safety. God who's always trying to take his arrows away. Yeah no no no. It's none other than the Great God Pan o one of our favorites in one corner. We have the flighty Arrow shooting Cherubic Cherubic son of the Venus the Lord of love and in the other corner we have the wild rutting he goat king fornication surrounded by finance prancing through the forest and so it's divine love versus earthly love and spoiler alert. Cupid often comes out on top. In fact there are some there your paintings that depict cupid kind of wrestling pan to the ground. Could you also say that this is city love versus country. Love I could. The idea like Pan was envisioned as the representative of the. I don't know the amorous affairs of shepherds and country. People yet is kind of country love versus verses the divine love of Mount Olympus here on the other hand when you look up our artistic interpretations of Pan. He is often wrestling or doing doing something like wrestling. So it's it's hard to say. He definitely on the losing end of the scenario here pans rascal now in terms arms of other treatments of of Cupid. You know we're not going to go through. All the echoes in popular culture. I did not just the most dignified. I'd want yes I did notice that there is a there is a cupid in DC comics. This kind of a feisty redhead and it's a it's the female oh okay it's like a cohort of the Green Arrow. Okay is she got us or just a human named Cupid. I think she's just a human who shoots arrows at people. Thor situation situation. I don't think so any comic book fans out there that want to A clueless in on this okay. We'd love to hear more but I think she just shoots arrows at people and Tries to kill them. Independent of you coming up with this lead Robert. I immediately was googling like cupid horror. Movie is there one and I. He came across something only to discover that. You'd already given it a little right up here. Yes I two thousand and one slasher film titled Valentine Now. Have you seen this before. No I looked up a couple of scenes on YouTube. One actually had kind of a cool set with like somebody who's like walking through a maze made made out of TV screens or something. Yeah I kind of like that but is it looks so stupid. And it has the ultimate lake two thousand one smart face cast or it's got David Boreanaz and Denise Richards it's like the cast of starship troopers it. Also has a has a two thousand and one one alternative rock album like the most two thousand and one alternative rock album a soundtrack is. Does it have what down with. The sickness. Doesn't have that particular track but disturbed Is President Okay and Yeah you can pretty much extrapolate from there. What else is on the soundtrack but it does is have this killer stalking around the slasher character with Cupid mask and there is one scene at least where he kills somebody with Arrows? and that's the sequence. You're you're talking about with all the TV's Oh so as far as slasher films worth seeing. It's been too long since I've seen it to really give it a firm recommendation but as far as slasher films worth looking up the kills on Youtube I give it a thumbs up but in this movie unless I'm mistaken no gold. Zeros and lead blunt arrows. Right right I think he just has normal killing arrows because he's ultimately not an actual guide that would have been a fun twist though they don't get deep into the residences of the mythology. No because there's a lot there you could really go go nuts with for instance the fact that Cupid is often depicted riding around on dolphins or even sometimes just on sea monsters. That's odd yeah and You know we mentioned beauty and the beast already. But I I should throw out there even though I I haven't read it and I don't know why I haven't read it because I read a whole lot of cs Lewis at one point in my life but cs Lewis Retails the story of Cupid and psyche in the nineteen fifty-six Eighty six novel till we have faces. I've never read that either but that sounds maybe worth checking now so again we can keep going on Cupid we keep talking about various mythological treatments different versions of the stories but basically what we want to drive home. Here is that first of all he has these two arrows. Yeah he has the leading Arrow Golden Arrow and these are the powers associated and we also just want to drive home that he's he is more than just this ridiculous cartoon Baby No. He's an epic creep cartoon cartoon baby who wrestles Goatman and rides on sea monsters. Indeed he is so on that note. We're GONNA take a quick break and when we come back we're going into discuss the leaden Arrow of cupid. We're going to get into what ancient people knew of lead. How they use lead what they thought about its properties and then of course? We'll oh well. We'll we'll dive into the periodic table and discussing exactly what led is. Can the weather predict to you. That's a good question. The kind lexus answers by looking at people people ever notice that sometimes your cold and the next minute you're hot that's because the body's temperature is always fluctuating. And it's your brain that tells the body to constantly adjust for optimal temperature. So what if the inside of Alexis could adjust to you like that using sixteen infrared sensors to measure your body. Heat the vehicle reacts to You with Twenty Air vents heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel to maintain your desired preference automatically. It's aware of your ever changing temperature. 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Depot Office depot is ready to help your business business with knowledgeable associates in over thirteen hundred stores or online at Office Depot Dot Com. So no matter how big or small your business happens to be no matter how big or small your office happens happens to be office. Depot is the place to go for any variety of office supplies as well as some information to help you get there all right. We're back so Robert. We have already told the story of Cupid as especially as described in avas metamorphosis and the story of these two different rose he's got the Gold Arrow which imparts love makes people fancy one another in the lead era which is blunt and maybe seems to cause a version on at least in some of the story right like if you were hit with the lead Ero and somebody passed you note in in in high school and will you go out with me. Yes and no you would add a third box that said I would rather my father turned me into a tree. Your head would just explode in scanners well other than the General Association Association of gold being thought of as good. Is there anything any reason we can think of why these particular metals are picked to have the magical significance. -Nificant the Arrows in the myth. We exactly what with gold. Obviously Gold is beautiful and humans have thought it's beautiful for ages and we've been perfectly happy to squabble wobble over and kill each other over it so it seems the perfect substance to sum up the appeal and then sometimes the dangers of love plus knowing what we now. This was an element that was likely produced in the collisions of of neutron stars long before the formation of the earth which is amazing to consider by the way I mean I mean just to contemplate this for a moment You know it was once thought that most of the universe's heavy elements like elements heavier than iron were created in Super Nova's which is is win a massive star at the end of its life cycle collapses on itself and then explodes in Super Nova's can create some heavy elements but some scientists have argued for a wild out there too many heavy elements the proportion of them that we find in the universe is too high to be accounted for by what's possible from Super Nova's alone and so in recent years there have been some cool experiments that have shown that the collision of Neutron Stars like you say could be the alternative For example I was looking at the study study published in two thousand eighteen in the astrophysical journal by coat at all that looked at data from a neutron star merger and I love that the technology technology they use to companies like mergers and acquisitions. They should've used the language of love. Because we are creating substance that will one day be used by the God of love right it is. It should be neutron star copulation. Yes neutrons starter. Course but anyway this collision was between eighty five and one hundred sixty million light years away in the researchers calculated that this one event these two neutron stars colliding produced between one and five earth masses of an element called Europeam and between three and thirteen earth masses of gold earth masses of gold. So just think about a solid gold earth and then between three and thirteen of them and then it just like spits a bunch of this out into the universe to get banged up with other gases and stuff like that and eventually end up in. Maybe say a planetary accretion disk where it becomes part of the crust of an earth. So if you're wearing a gold ring or any other piece of gold right now or if you're maybe maybe say using an electronic device that has a bit of golden it just think about how that element was forged either in the guts of a dying star as it exploded or was probably more likely created in the chaos of rapid neutron capture when two of the densest objects in the universe to neutron stars smashed together billions of years ago. And of course I guess they even crazier thing is that that doesn't stop gold right like a as men at the elements shouldn't stop there because all the heavy elements had to be formed at some point in fact all the elements of any kind of had to be formed at some point of view of the the lightest ones are primordial you find hydrogen and helium and lithium out in the original universe And then a few more I think are formed by like a cosmic has McRae's and stuff but beyond that pretty much everything that you could see touch in that your body is made of was in some way forged inside dying star You know you've got this dying star forged that has slow neutron capture going on inside it or it was a Supernova explosion or the collision of Neutron Stars. Were something like that. Yeah these are the very kind of for just one can imagine a god-like Volkan would employ right exactly. Yeah that's what's happening when he pumps the bellows he's just pumping it it to smash neutron stars together and of course you know you mentioned that anything heavier than iron a likely had this this kind of cosmic origin and that includes lead even even though it's easy to to sail the Golden Arrow forged in cosmic turmoil in ages past or the same story applies to let even though it's not as shiny even though You probably don't have any lead in jewelry on your body right now. Right though I mean lead is an amazing element and to consider the same way I think I think there are two main explanations for lead as I believe one is their slow neutron capture process that takes place within dying stars and the other other is the the the hot dense starter. Course the The Neutron Star Collision Sunday Sunday Sunday. Now come back to Cupid's Arrow I imagine basically the idea of the lead and Arrow is that lead is not attractive. Lead is not beautiful Lead is something that even in ancient times it was rarely used used in jewellery released as the primary Aspect of the jewelry. Well known in an even more. I don't know if you can be mean to lead but if you if lead has feelings you could hurt feelings even more by pointing out that led you know. Lead doesn't occur. Generally free in nature lead occur is bound up in ors ores And so primarily the way lead was created in the ancient world was as they byproduct of the creation of silver writings and people are trying to extract silver over for some from something and you melt out some lead as a waste product of that and it and it did have uses because it's got a high specific weight so you could use it as like wait before you know if you have like fishing line or something you WanNa hold down that it's useful for that. It's not very good for making like solid like weapons or anything thing right because it's very soft. Yeah it's not GONNA be. It's not going to be a good medal if you want to actually forge arrows for combat or forge any any kind of say armor But but there are a lot of uses for it if you want to create a drinking vessels or certainly if you want to create pipes. We're not advocating advocating that by the way. No no certainly from a very early point humans for figuring. This Adelaide is one of the seven metals of antiquity. Humans were handling lead a long time ago. cast lead beads found in modern day Turkey date from roughly sixty five hundred BC. The ancient Egyptians use lead as early as five two thousand BBC for pottery glazes solder and casting. Yeah and So I was looking it early. Examples of lead artifacts one example I found was a sort of maybe aesthetic artifact or maybe something that was used in like a world for for you know working with textiles But this was was in a cave in the Negev desert in Israel and it supposedly dates to the late fifth millennium BC. And it's just basically this wooden wand and Scott Leaden beads at the end of it and they don't know what it's for well do. I wonder if maybe it's for some kind of heavy metal lead magic. Yeah an anti I love repulsion rate so we can hold the Babylonians made inscriptions on lead plates. Oh yes soft you surroundings on it and just to refer everyone back to our October episode on curses. We spent a fair amount of time discussing Roman curse tablets. So yeah we did did. And what were those made out of. Well like the ones found in In like second or third century Roman Britain were often. They're made in lead. So there are these places where you can go around like modern-day Lester and dig up these ancient sites where there would be a maybe a shrine or temple to an ancient God maybe in the syncretic religions of Roman Britain where you'd sort of combine maybe Roman gods with With native Celtic gods or or or the Gods Britain there and people would be going there to you say curse somebody who stole something from them like you know Sir Vanda shows up and says somebody stole my cloak. Whoever stole my cloak? I want him to not be able to pee for three months. And unless he gives me my clothes back and this would be inscribed on a lead tablet and hung up somewhere and part of the idea. There is that it was partially to invoked this power but also maybe just have it hung up in a public place so people could like know what was going on now one of the important aspect of lead that That I wonder and I wonder if it played into the use of integration of these curse tablets is that lead does not corrode like other metals. So if you if you if you inscribe describe your curse in a piece of lead like that's a curse the could speak across the ages right. Lead doesn't rust. I mean will lead lead. Oxides do form. But they're not they're not like Like iron rust. You know the red rusty stuff Lead Oxide tends to be great but generally exposed lead doesn't corrode and And Yeah this does make it attractive especially for some purposes. Say like if you want to make something that holds liquids in it right. Something that is not gonNA receive a lot of punishment not to worry about that the weakness of it But Yeah you can use it for drinking vessels or certainly for plumbing pipes. Here's a grows IOS piece of Trivia. Next time you have to call a plumber because who knows what you tried to flush a whole roll of paper towels down the toilet. Consider that the English words plumber and plumbing are derived from the Latin word plume which means lead and it's right there in the chemical elements symbol for lead on the periodic table. You ever notice that. It's one of those weird ones like iron. FBI wise that well you know. It comes from an archaic word like the fairest metal Lead on the periodic table is P. B. Why's it. PB that comes from plum. Because ancient Romans loved some lead pipes and led aqueducts and lead reservoirs ars and lead cisterns. Lead cooking vessels and lead-based even lead based food additives. And we'll come back to the the food additives point now. I was looking at a at a at one. Text from Casas and Sordo titled Lead Chemistry Analytical Aspects Environmental Impact and health effects and they pointed not that ancient text showed a bit of confusion over lead and other elements using plum to describe quote any silvery white low melting and easily oxidized oxidized metal including lead tin zinc etc.. They pointed out that yeah. Lead pipes have been used for a very long time I see them. In Ancient Mesopotamia Cypress Persia Egypt Greece Rome of course and various Roman provinces so the technology in the materials would have spread with the Romans. Men's as well in the Romans likely learned it from the Greeks and it wasn't just the pipes it was used in cases where iron wire or wooden hoops are currently today. You know as reinforcing brands for bands for Tanks Vats A. M. for etc.. So you see it. Also used in Masonry Cesspool woah coverings roofing damp proofing foundations parapet walls etc.. Lead vessels were widely used. And this is interesting facing lead was also long associated with funeral rites so Roman era caskets and urns are often made at least in part from a specially apparently in England and lead was also used in ancient China in a variety of uses From glass making to cosmetics of course now in the modern world we know that the lead can have have extremely serious health consequences Can and very often does like there. There are tons of ways to get lead and your body and lead exposure can happen through through ingestion. gestion when when you eat it can have breathing in. Lead particles can happen through. Absorption through the skin and lead gets incorporated into the body and leads to both short short term and long term negative consequences the short-term negative consequences are there are a lot of different ones so it can be sometimes. It's hard to identify lead exposure in and people. But it might be like you've got stomach distress like your stomach hurts and you're constipated but it also can lead to weakness and fatigue and like your arms and legs legs are weak and it can lead to psychological and neurological consequences. People can be like the like tired. Depressed and irritable have loss of appetite. I have trouble remembering things. Yeah I mean it's enough to make you think it's my smartphone made out of lead. It is we. We were actually talking about this before Record the episode like there's so much to the story of of of our realization regarding the harmful effects of lead that we really need to come back to it and devoted an entire episode absolutely. Yes yes absolutely. We're going to do a whole episode on lead someday soon. I think maybe with a special focus on the Lord of lead. Claire See Paterson Persson. Oh yes but yeah we now know led to have all these problems and they're also the long term consequences right. Those are just like short term consequences. I was mentioning you know. Can there could be neurological. logical damage from long term exposure to lead enough lead in a concentrated dose can kill you. They're definitely Like developmental problems that children who have lead exposure experience orient so it's The yeah it's no joke. And the fact that humans have constantly surrounded ourselves first centuries or even millennia with just constant routes of exposure to environmental Armenta. Lead is something that is really horrifying and ridiculous. But I guess that's just what we do all right. We're GONNA take a quick break and when we come back we're going to get back to this idea. India of lead as food headed so hang. Hang in there Soon it'll be time to eat some. Hey everybody office. Depot has supplies applies and services for businesses of any size. So you know it. 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If number store or sleepnumber dot com slash iheart that sleepnumber dot com slash iheart sleep. Number's the official sleep and wellness partner of the NFL. All right. We're back okay. It's Valentine's Day. What are you? Get your sweetheart on Valentine's Day. Sometimes they're flowers but oh it's already there in the name right. You get your sweetheart some sweets right. Now here's the question I've wondered about before but I've never found a good answer to. Why is it that we associate gate sweet foods with eroticism but not so much like other flavors like? Why isn't it that you get your sweetheart? Some salty foods on Valentine's Valentine's Day or you get them some bitter foods or sour foods. Why sweet I mean sweetser a decadent treat right I mean I guess that's part of it Sweet sweet or something we've always we're always craving and And we are just hardwired to one as much of it as possible given that it would be a rarity in the natural world but we also crave fat and salt. Why not like for Valentine's Day instead of a box of chocolates? It's like a bag of pork rinds. And a stick of butter. Well I guess it would be harder to keep that a secret away in the back of the closet for a week or so But I don't know I feel like they're you. The people saw rate cheeses on Valentine's You know certainly. There are other foods that have Like a romantic or APHRODISIAC vibe to them. Yeah I guess so I guess part of what I'm wondering is is that link between like love and eroticism in sweet foods is that cultural or is there some biological element to it We'll have to come back and explore that that would be. That would be interesting to look at like when you look at other cultures. There's something else that is considered the Romantic Dick Flavor profile. I don't know you know considering. How many likes Scandinavian people have written into the show to to talk about the wonders of Salty? liquorice I I bet. That's what they use over there. Yeah and plus it makes me wonder about Say Chinese traditions where there's so much emphasis placed on the balance of different flavors. uh-huh how does that impact sort of ritualized Sweets all right. Well let's talk about the sweetest of all suites sweet lead. So I found what has got to be the best injury ever in any Oxford companions reading the Oxford companion to sugar or in sweet nice. Yeah so it's Oxford University press and there's an entry in it by the American chemist Michelle in France oil and this is just got to be one of the Best Blake Encyclopedia type entries ever read so Franceville writes about this substance called sugar of lead also known as lead lead acetate led to Acetate Looks kind of like large salt crystals if you look it up or it looks like translucent. Rock candy the kind of stuff you get on the little stick cry but like Sorta like white translucent and color and France oh writes quote it is sweet roughly as sweet per teaspoon as sugar and only slightly more lethal Oakland strychnine. So sugar of lead was used as a medical treatment in nineteenth century Europe and even though it is sweet it is technically salt assault which is an electrically neutral collection of positive ions and negative ions. Actually we only think of salts as salty in flavor because the most common common salt that we refer to is sodium chloride table salt but salts don't have to be salty salts can be bitter and salts can be sweet in this case it is sweet so in lead Acetate Acetate. This collection of opposite charged ions is made from die positive lead ions and negatively charged Acetate ions and it turns out sugar curve. Lead is not the only sweet metallic Salt Franceville points out that lots of beryllium salts are very sweet so sweet in fact that the Greek word for the element woman beryllium is glue. Siim from like Glucose or glucose the Greek word for sweet But as good as these metal salts that are sweet taste aced. They are very bad for you. LEAD ACETATE can be fatal to a seventy kilogram or one hundred fifty pound adult at a dose of three teaspoons. So basically what you're saying. Is that if anybody has any fancy dining plans this evening and a CD Lead Bay sweeteners. On the menu I would advise against instant. Okay nevertheless there is some evidence that the ancient Romans used a indirectly I would say indirectly used this lead salt as a kind kind of sweetener or at least as a way of voiding other types of taste imparted into their foods. So here's how this goes. The Romans created a syrup that they called SAPA which was produced by boiling down. A liquid called must must is basically week wind. Franceville describes it as quote mildly Hedley fermented grape juice. So there'd be a little bit of alcohol content maybe kind of like grape beer. August of course must like wine has some acid in it has a CD gasset acid. And the CDC acid is the acid basis of vinegar. Vinegar is usually just a Sikh acid diluted with water or some other acquiesce substance and CDC acid provides provides acetate ions which can react with metals in the pots where they are boiled and and this can result in some salts. So if you boil your must in a copper pot the resulting Sabah will have some copper acetate salts in it and these taste really bad like the bitter. Even ancient Roman writers would would comment on this in the natural history. Plenty discusses the production of Sabah and he writes quote lead in vessels should be used for this purpose. Not Copper ones. So he's like get that copper out of there and makes the sap a taste bad you want lead except no less so why use lead because remember. Lead salts are sweet so not only cooking in lead pots. Not Foul your sap. It might make it even a little bit. Sweeter and this is a quote from this is a quote from Francis. Injury Quote Chemical Analysis of Sabah produced according to recipes dating from the classical Roman period using kettles of similar metallic composition as those found at POMPEII and other sites suggest that the lead content Sabah was eight hundred fifty milligrams per liter many thousand times times higher than what is generally allowable and drinking water. Even diluted and used sparingly sweetening with ZAPPA was a serious risk. Now I have seen some people phrase. This is like the the lead pots were used specifically to make the SAP sweeter and Francis sorta disagrees with that. Because she he says the the lead was probably not really intended to add much sweetness to the wine. Because it wouldn't put it wouldn't add that much really you'd already have pretty sweet substance and it'd be the equivalent of adding like a pinch of sugar to it so it wouldn't make a huge difference. It was more that the lead vessels if they win they did. Add Flavor would sort it of complement the existing sweetness rather than adding a foul bitter flavor. Like copper vessels would Okay so in a blind taste test of the WHO in win. We both vessels have the same already sweet or semi sweet wine. You're gonNA find that the lead in vessel is going to impart like a slightly sweeter less foul experience. We'll probably significantly less foul. But yeah I I don't know if there's evidence that they thought of it as the lead comes Out and makes it a lot sweeter they just thought oh use lead pots. It tastes way better in the end. However this is one of those cases where we also can't just make fun of the ancients because this this kind of thing carried on until ridiculously recent times she points out that the use of lead as a food additive and treatment did not stop in ancient Rome and and that led equipment and additives were used to prevent spoilage in wine in some cases up until the nineteenth century? How now we do have to drive home for everybody? Even though again we're we're not getting deep into the the the the dangers of lead in this episode. Please if you were. If you're tempted all attempted it all do not go right and drink a bunch of wine out of lead vessels just to To to test the sweetening ability of the of the vessel the amount of lead. You should should be absorbing on purpose zero whatever your accidentally getting from the environment is still probably more than you want and there's actually a lot more stuff. There's been an ongoing ongoing argument over the years about the role of lead ingestion and lead exposure in ancient Rome because before ancient Rome there was lead people. Oh did use led to make some objects but it wasn't used in wide widespread construction and infrastructure. And all that Romans were the ones that really started using lead for a lot of stuff and in one thousand nine hundred. Three Canadian researcher named Jerome Ryobu argued that lead poisoning actually led to the downfall of the Roman Empire. You probably probably heard this before the idea that they just they built up all this lead Essentially lead infrastructure and then poisoned themselves and cooked with this is especially the cooking with fled vessels. I think And so this has later been called into doubt by others. WHO said you know I? It doesn't necessarily seem like we can claim that There's no doubt that mini robens were exposed to unsafe levels of lead. I was just looking at a study from two thousand fourteen in. PAAs by the by Dalil at all called lead lead in ancient Rome city. Water is and they found that the tap water you know the basically the Ecuador delivered water or delivered through some kind of lead infrastructure that that water in ancient Rome would have roughly a hundred times the lead content of local spring water. Oh Wow a lot of lead are I was we we wind down here. Let's let's just let's just talk once more about just the properties of lead right and I wonder if in looking at these properties we can figure out what makes it so special as as the opposite of the love inducing Golden Arrow Yeah and indeed. Why cupid would have walked up to his possible Father Volkan and said Hey? What had metal should you use to make my repulsion Eros? What would make Volkan say? Oh yeah lead lead is what you want okay. Well one thing we know about lead is that for a medal. It has a pretty low melting point right right and this means it's a lot easier to cast with requires less equipment and it made an ideal Solder Component. Yeah so if you WANNA melt something easily to like seal things together I think yeah and I've read. This also makes it like an attractive additive. If you're like ooh casting something in a mold right and then to your point earlier like it was there as a byproduct product of going after other metals. Yeah so it was available onto onto an addition. We've talked about this a little bit. I lead is dense. It is. It's the heavy metal and leads density is due to its high atomic mass short bond links and a small atomic radius in this along with its high number of electrons needed needed to maintain a neutral charge makes it a useful radiation shield in our modern world a scattering x rays and gamma rays. Yeah and so you'll actually see it in use in places where there is a radiation risk. There sometimes lead blocks deployed as a as basically a like the sand bags of the radiation world. Yeah I I mean my my My father was a dentist and and so I was often hanging out and dental offices and part of that is being being near an x ray machine and of course that big big heavy lead Line smock right the lead so so yeah you see you see this kind of radiation shielding all over kind. It makes me think back to our our our episode on the x Ray Machine that we did for invention so certainly. If you want more on on the use of x-rays and the dangers of radiation and associated with the x rays. I highly recommend that episode of our other show invention and then third major ad attribute of land is that it is soft and malleable is limited usage somewhat. You know while a God might be able to craft an Arrow out of it or coat. An era with led. Anyway you're not gonna be able to fashion anything with that can sustain lean any real stress. But when you're talking about something like water and sewage pipes or cooking vessels that that is an area where lead Ken can excel. Sell as long as you're not getting into questions of whether it will poison you or not just from physical on physical basis. It can get the job done. You wouldn't want like a lead hammer though I think so you can have like lead alloy hammers and stuff like you can use alloys to strengthen metals that are inherently soft ripe. So coming back to it I mean maybe the idea is that the the lead and Eros or somehow combat ing the the radiation of intense passionate love. The power of love is actually A. It's it's a type of Ray. It's what's beyond gamma rays game. You've got to scatter those love radar. The only way to do that is with with some high end. God forge the lead in ammunition. I'm seeing another resonance here. Because one of the sources we didn't mention we so we talked about how lead can be created in like evinced evinced in space inside like a dying star the collision of Neutron Stars. We also didn't talk about another at. I think it probably accounts for much. Much smaller percentage of it but lead can be created as a byproduct of radioactive decay Some like uranium decay into some isotopes of lead. So maybe if we're considering that love there's a type of radio activity type of Ray they're actually lead represents what happens when loved is indicate you know Glove Fades and eventually it becomes lead. What starts as this? Golden Splendid Sharp Arrow becomes this blunt dull lustre `less instrument. We have crucified. This myth and taken out all of your and turned it into a chemical Frankenstein. I'm so proud of us. Yeah I feel like we have. We done a good job here today. Taking the candy coated in kind of Lame Holiday Valentine's Day and I think we've injected some fresh life into it. We Fed it a lot of lead in and and in doing so. We've killed off a lot of the the the more irritable aspects of the holidays. Sweet sweet lead. Yes the big takeaways from from today donate lead sugar right. Don't do do not do it. Don't Cook in lead pots right. Don't drink from lead leading vessels if you have a choice in the matter be wary of God's with bows arose right And and keep in mind that yet cupid Eros. So he's aiming at you kind of toss up which one he's trying to hit you with and sometimes times even the Great God pan gets out wrestled. Exactly all right so we're going to close out this Special Valentine's Day episode of stuff to blow your mind but as always if you want to check out more more episodes of the show you can always head on over to stuff to blow your mind dot com. That's the mothership. That's where you'll find all the episodes of the show you'll find links out to various social media the accounts you can. Of course find us anywhere. You get podcasts That's that's true across the board so just search for us there wherever you find a subscribe and if you have the power to do so on these platforms give us a rating throw as many stars as possible at us the golden red ones and then go leave a nice message about how how often the show is because the these these may seem like small things but they really help us out in the long run huge. Thanks as always to our excellent audio producers Alex Alex Williams and Tari Harrison if you would like to get in touch with us directly with feedback about this episode or any other to suggest for the future for just to say hi you can. Email US sat. Blow the mind at how STEPH WORKS DOT com the more on this and vows of other topics visit how stuff works dot com. It took everybody. Saudi office depot has supplies and services for businesses of any size. That's right no matter. How small or large your Home Office happens to be or your office? 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