Assignment 6 Part 2
Case 1 - McDonald's french fries
The group’s quick summary is about how they attempted to find out why McDonalds
French fries last so long. Their main objective was to find the chemical composition of a
McDonald’s French fry. This is where I think the problem occurred, they should have been
looking at what the potatoes/fry was treated with in order to give it flavor and preserve it. I typed
in a simple search of “McDonald’s French fries ingredients” that search led me to the link below:
This is a website that appeared to be run by McDonalds; it gave all of the ingredients to the items
on their menu including the French fry:
Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk
derivatives]*), citric acid (preservative), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color),
salt. Prepared in vegetable oil ((may contain one of the following: Canola oil, corn oil, soybean
oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness),
dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent). *
CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK (Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and
hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients).
Now do I think that this is a sufficient answer? No, they still want to know what causes
the fries to last so long. Going through the ingredients I noticed that a lot of oils are used to
preserve the fries, this is where I think my search should go next. There is TBHQ component
which I’ve never heard of and they list it as a preservative, it seems logical to start there. This is a
piece of a bigger article that I found when I typed in “TBHQ” into Google. “TBHQ is an anti-
oxidant. It keeps fats from going rancid, so you see it in a lot of foods that they want to have
a long shelf life (like Twinkies).” One thing that set me off about this is the mention of
Twinkies, most people have heard about how long a Twinkie will last and for the fries to be in the
same sentence because of this chemical I think is an alarming clue. This is some more literature
to way in on TBHQ when I typed in “hydrogenated soybean oil TBHQ preserve”.
“TBHQ, or TERT-BUTYLHYDROQUINONE is used as an antioxidant for unsaturated
vegetable oils and animal fats. It can be used in combination with BHA. It is added to a
wide range of foods, with highest limit permitted for frozen fish. It is used to enhance
storage life. For industrial use, TBHQ is used as a stabilizer and is added to varnishes,
lacquers, resins, and oil field additives.In high doses, TBHQ led to stomach tumors and
damage to DNA for lab animals. Prolonged exposure to TBHQ may cause cancer. While this
is for high doses and lab rats, I have trouble with the idea that something you can only
handle with protective clothing, per the Material Safety Data Sheet, is going in my food. You
can find TBHQ in a wide variety of fast food menu items, especially anything fried or
cooked in oil.”
It looks like from my research the combination of TBHQ and the other preservatives they use
(citric acid, soybean oil) because McDonalds French fries to have a ridiculously long shelf life.
As far as the search goes I don’t know if it was possible to find your answer in one search I think
it was at least a two part process.
Another for case 1
After searching “why McDonalds fries never go bad” on Google I came across a few websites
with the answer. The high salt content of the fries and starchy composition of them is what
makes the fries last so long. Because they are made from potatoes and very starchy they last a
long time, plus the large amount of salt content helps to preserve them.
I went on to Google and used the query “fast food” AND preservatives, I received 142,000 hits.
One site in particular that would be helpful is, Fast Food Facts – McDonalds, “Ingredients Lists”,
More on Case 1
Better search query: mcdonald’s French fry preservatives
Search engine used: Google
The anomalous states of knowledge by the users lead to a query which wasn’t properly worded
for the search results in which they desired. Knowing that “preservatives” would be the reason
why food remains intact for a surprisingly long time would have greatly helped to achieve better
results with their query. My revised query produced a precision of 6/10, as supposed to 0/10
from the original query.
Case 2 - hardest thing to find on the internet
I took their query "the hardest thing to find on the internet." and modified it to "hardest
thing to find on the internet". The first result was to a webpage which stated "The hardest thing to
find on the internet is well documented cases of cancer cures from any one nutrient or
combination of nutrients." The link to this website was -
Case 3 - history of Auburn marching band
Again I used Google with the query of Highschool AND marching AND band “auburn new york”.
There were 1,800 hits and the first one I felt was the most relevent. There was a couple of site that
I thought would be relevant for your search though. This one of the sites
Case 4 - how to make candy bottle caps
Information Need: How candy bottle caps are made.
Searches Tried: How candy bottle caps are made, Wonka bottle caps, how wonka bottle caps are
Better Search: candy bottle caps manufactured OR created OR made -sale –price
We wondered how candy bottle caps are made. Since there have been TV. shows explaining the
process I figured it would be easy to find, but was very surprised to have the same results as the
other group. The initial search of “how candy bottle caps are made” was changed to “candy
bottle caps manufactured OR created OR made -sale –price”. The OR operator was used in order
to account for different ways of naming the process of creating a candy bottle cap. The minus
sign was used to try and weed out all the sites that were offering places to buy the candies. The
search did not give any better hits than before, although it did find many other interesting sites,
such as information on when bottle caps were first made, and how to make jewelry from metal
Case 5 - person who created the sidewalk
For the inventor of the sidewalk information need our query was "origins history of the sidewalk",
to this we returned one relevant site. Although we didn’t find the inventor of the sidewalk, we
were able to find out when and where the modern sidewalk was invented. Relevant site:
Another for case 5
This was the only search I could improve on. I attempted to improve on some of the other queries
and couldn’t find the proper information. I attempted to revise the search queries like
- “original sidewalk inventor”
- or by searching for “For the People” on websites that sell books for reviews, but couldn’t
The results didn’t help, I couldn’t find anything useful. There are some things that are truly very
difficult to find on the internet.
More for case 5
Better search query: history of the sidewalk
Search engine used: Google
The anomalous state of knowledge by the user lead to a belief that it was possible to track down a
sole individual who created the first sidewalk. Considering the fact that the sidewalk may not be
attributed to one single person, in that it could have just came into effect naturally by society’s
need to have walkways for pedestrians; a specific search looking for the inventor of the sidewalk
was not the best approach. In fact, it was deemed impossible to determine whether there actually
is a sole creator of the sidewalk based on Case 5’s results. When searching for the history of the
sidewalk, the user can at least find out such facts as to how boardwalks made out of wood were
some of the first sidewalks in America, and that pedestrian walkways are referred to by different
terms all around the world. This brings up another problem with the initial query in that a
linguistic unspecifiability exists.
Case 6 - book review on “For the People”, by an authornamed Formisano
The case is about the book For the People by Robert P. Formisano. The query was to find a book
review and be able to purchase the book. Based on the Search that was given by the original user
which was: Problems AND critical AND reviews “for the people” AND Formisano. I modified
the search to “for the people” review + Formisano. In the results I got a hit on the book that I was
looking for on Barnes and Nobles.com. It had a review and way to buy the book as well.
Case 7 - autographed jersey from Bob McAdoo
Case 8 - Criss Angel Levitation
Information Need: Criss Angel Levitation
Searches Tried: Criss Angel and Levitation, revealed, secret, explanation
Better Search: Criss Angel Spoiler
I searched Google for “Criss Angel spoiler” and brought up apparently 10 out of 10 relevant
results including a video of a short levitation and walk through with Criss Angel of how it was
done. The term “spoiler” has recently been termed as the “easy button” to explaining something.
How something is done, how a puzzle is solved, how a movie ends, how a magic trick is done, etc.
This information need simply needed a little help with linguistic specifiability. Once we had the
language needed to search effectively the information was easy to find.
Another on case 8
I picked the topic about Criss Angel’s levitation. This seemed really interested and I did not know
where to start off with a query. To start off I typed in “Criss Angel levitation”, and got 126,000
results in Google. The things that would make the document relevant were valid articles that
revealing how he did it. The first two results were videos from youtube. The third result was
relevant to what the user was searching for. The website showed how he performed the trick with
ways to fool the mind. In the website it shows him levitation to a ledge and on an elevator. After
that the article described it and had a video of Criss Angel showing how he did the trick using his
secrets. However changing the query to, “Criss Angel building to building levitation” I did not
get relevant documents about how he preformed the trick. The results I found were from people
guessing how he did it and now Criss himself explaining it.
Case 9 - Excel spreadsheet function
The information need that I chose to look into more thoroughly, was linking columns of data
together in MS Excel so that when one piece of data would change, the rest would follow suit.
The query that I chose was “ms excel help linking columns.” By using that query on the Google
search engine, I found an answer in the second result on the first page. The returned result was
from a help website about MS Excel called Mr Excel. The site will help you with any of your
MS Excel related problems through forums.
Also from this assignment I learned that searching is much easier when you know exactly
what you're looking for as opposed to searching for something vague or general. Also I learned
during the first part of this assignment that the Internet has pretty much every piece of
information on it and it's difficult to not be able to find something.
Case 10 - supporting information for either HIV/AIDS or malaria
Case 11 - jobs and colorblind
Information Need: Jobs where color blindness is a disqualification for employment.
Searches tried: None given
Better Search: Color blind + career, and color blind disqualification.
No initial searches were given to compare results with, but the need was to find any jobs that a
person might be disqualified for being color blind. The search “color blind + career” brought up
some support sites, and frequently asked questions' pages in the results. Such careers were listed
as police officer and military careers. On one of the sites visited an expert was posed this question
of a man in the field of electronics. “Do you know if my employer can deny me employment
based on this “so-called” physical disability?” The response was that “applicants are routinely
denied employment if they do not pass an employer’s required color vision test in many
professions - airlines, train engineers, law enforcement, and in your line of work. The second
search also proved to be beneficial in obtaining information on careers limited by color blindness.
On the initial search page careers such as police officer, firefighter, electrician, and multiple
armed forces divisions. Both of my initial searched brought up relevant results for this