1. Bring the salt and water to a boil in a small saucepan.
2. Put the nasturtium seedpods in a half-pint glass jar and pour the boiling brine over them.
3. Cover and let them soak at room temperature for 3 days.
4. Drain the nasturtium seedpods in a fine sieve and return them to the jar.
5. Bring the vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, and thyme to a boil in a small (1-quart) saucepan.
6. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the seedpods and let cool.
7. Cover the jar and refrigerate for 3 days before using. They'll keep for 6 months in the refrigerator if covered in the vinegar.
Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner 2000). Copyright 2000 by Jerry Traunfeld.
Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, is studying whether the experience of being a virtual cow will make people feel more empathy. "[Our previous work] showed that if you had occupied the avatar of another person, you showed empathy toward them," Bailenson says. "But no one had ever tried this with another species."