A sugar is a type of carbohydrate, which is very good for you, and provides most of the energy which living things need. Sugar is carbon based, and like another carbon based material, coal, is found in large deposits underground.
Sugar in nature
Sugar is a common mineral which often forms in large, underground deposits called "crystals". Although the largest deposits of sugar are located in the tropics, sugar can be found in almost any soil throughout the world. A good indicator of extremely high sugar content of a local area is the flourishing of fruit plants, as these plants are some of the best natural refiners of sugar. Most plants with fruits use the fruit as a storage container for excess sugar produced through photosynthesis, the process of using sunlight, water, and dirt to refine sugar.
One of the most efficient sources of naturally refined sugar is the sugar cane. This plant is essentially made up of two parts: the roots, which can draw up and purify sugar from underground deposits, and the stalk, which acts as a storage for the sugar. The most remarkable thing about the sugar cane, is that it can extract sugar from the ground at 110% efficiency, making sugar a renewable resource. No one knows how the plant performs this strange feat, and it has puzzled mankind for hundreds of years.
Sugar cane is native to warmer areas, usually nearer to the equator, as it needs a higher than average ground sugar content (GSC) to be able to reproduce. Sugar cane has a system of reproduction unlike any other plant: first, the plant starts to produce sugar at an extremely accelerated rate. Once the stalk fills up with sugar, the top seals off so nothing can get in or out. Next, the sugar cane pollinates a few (roughly 1 in 1000) of the grains of sugar with a unique genetic code. These select few grains will grow into seeds, eventually causing the stalk to burst, spraying the mix of seeds and sugar everywhere.
A plant that is similar to the sugar cane is the cocoa bean. Unlike the sugar cane, the cocoa bean turns sugar directly into chocolate, and so is essentially a candy tree. It is thought that cocoa trees have been harvested for over 700 years for their chocolate, and there is a great amount of evidence that the Mayans were one of the first to regularly perform this practice.
There is another type of plant that stores sugar for later consumption: fruit plants. Fruit plants are able to create different vessels, called fruits, that serve both as a storage for sugar and a device to hold their seeds. These plants are not quite as efficient at withdrawing sugar from the ground as sugarcane, but are very sweet nonetheless. It is speculated that plants evolved these brightly coloured containers in order to attract animals, so as to spread their seeds. Some examples of fruits are
Humans and sugar
Sugar has been known of by humans for as long as history has been recorded. Sugar is one of the cornerstones of the modern economy, and there are many companies chiefly devoted to the art of refining and using sugar in delicious delicacies. This section details the modern uses of sugar, from how it is refined, how it is used, and even some of the controversies caused by it.
Sugar refineries refine sugar in three basic steps: First, the sugar ore is deposited into an pneumatic crusher. The sugar is then crushed into a smaller, gravel-like mix. Next, the sugar is taken into a furnace, which is kept at temperatures of around 3000 Degrees. The molten sugar is mixed with a small amount of carbon to create a slightly more brittle alloy, and then is cast in to bars and stored until needed.
When the sugar is needed, the bars are taken to another factory where they can be ground into dust. This dust is an extremely versatile substance that has many uses, and is packaged and shipped off to wherever it is needed. The majority of sugar is refined in the more tropical regions of the planet, because sugar deposits are significantly more common there.
Uses of sugar
Sugar has a variety of uses in all of its forms, from sugar ore, to sugar dust, to sugar steel. One of the main things that sugar is used in is candy. Different types of candy often require sugar from different stages of refinement. For example, rock candy is able to be produced from raw sugar ore, but gummy bears require sugar dust.
Candy Steel is a much less common type of sugar in production, but it is used enough that it deserves mention in this article. Candy steel is produced when, instead of adding carbon to the molten sugar, you add a small amount of titanium. Although this makes the sugar inedible, it increases the durability and strength to the point where it becomes comparable to steel. However, because of the cost of production, candy steel is rarely used outside scientific laboratories, where scientists are currently searching for a cheaper way to mass produce it.
The most expensive form of sugar to produce is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), in which an ear of corn is ground into powder, mixed with syrup, then super-saturated with huge amounts of sugar. On average, one ounce of HFCS can contain around 4 pounds of sugar. Because of the incredibly high amount of sugar contained in this volatile liquid, it is illegal for any civilian to own any amount of HFCS without explicit government permission.
Low quality sugar
Low quality sugar is an extremely addictive substance that is often made when sugar is not melted at the proper temperature, or is improperly stored or handled. Unfortunately, many large candy companies use this substance to ensure that their customers will keep coming back to get more bad sugar. Because of this, more and more people are starting to believe that all sugar is bad for you, and some of the more aggressive protesters have created "artificial sugars" Although these are not nearly as bad as low quality sugar, they are not nearly as good tasting as real, factory made sugar.