In case you missed out the news item, the Assamese chilli, known as Bih Jolokio Chilli, has been adjudged the hottest chilli in the world.
I wonder how the jury came to the conclusion. Did the members test each of the chilli samples on their tongues and set their pants on fire? Then arrive at a consensus? No, that’s not the way it was done.
Apparently, there is a unit of measurement called the Scoville heat Unit (SHU) which tells us how ‘hot’ a substance is. Bih Jolokia Chilli clocked in at 1,041,127 SHUs. The test procedure involves measuring the amount of capsaicin present. (capsaicin is a chemical known to stimulate the nerve endings) Thus, bell pepper which has no capsaicin at all has a SHU value of zero. Tabasca sauce is around 8000, Jamaican pepper 100000-200000 and so on. But, the winner, ladies and gentleman, is Bih Jolokio Chilli.
So, you don’t have to be vague when you describe the ‘hotness’ of a chilli; you can state with arithmetical precision how hot it is, thanks to Scoville.
But why this obsession with reducing everything to numbers. Taking the fun out of chillies and making life complicated for the chillee and the chiller. What kind of sadists inflict such scales on mankind? What a pain they are?
Speaking of pain, have you found it difficult to describe how painful something, is? If so, use the Wong-Baker Faces Pain Rating Scale. The Wong-Baker scale goes from 0 to 5, from 'no hurt' ( zero rating) to 'hurts worst' ( rating of 5)
What about specific pain, like that from an insect sting? Don’t worry. There’s a Schmidt Sting Pain Index which has classified the pain from stings of 78 different species. So, the next time you are stung by a Bullet Ant and experience pure, intense, brilliant pain, like walking over flaming charcoal, with a 3-inch nail in your heel, your doctor will take out the Schmidt scale and assess your pain number as 3.0 on the scale and prescribe medicines accordingly.
And, there is this Dr. Michel Welner, a forensic psychiatrist, who is working on a Depravity Scale that will help courts decide the seriousness of a crime in quantified terms, and decide on the sentence. There is a Goldberg depresssion scale available in case you want to monitor your mood on a daily basis and report to your shrink. There have been light-hearted proposals for emotional distress scale, and insanity quotient.
So, no more guess work. No more talking in vague terms. You have a scale and an index for everything.