Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cooking and Science

According to the New York Times, Harvard University has created a new course this academic year titled 'From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science'. The aim of this course is to teach basic math and physics using food as the catalyst.

Why didn't they think of this sooner? It makes perfect sense. What better way to demonstrate protein behavior at varying temperatures than examining an egg transform during cooking?

Figure 4.1: Pictures of intact eggs cooked in a water bath for 75 minutes at temperatures ranging from 136°F (57.8°C) to 152°F (66.7°C). From left-to-right and top-to-bottom, the water bath temperature was 136.0°F (57.8°C), 138.0°F (58.9°C), 140.0°F (60.0°C), …, 152°F (66.7°C). (Baldwin, Douglass, 2010).

Having worked in many labs in college and work, I cannot imagine a lab aimed at teaching science principles that is stocked with sugars, flour, eggs and xanthan gum rather than the usual toxic chemicals. Even more unbelievable is a lab in which you eat the end product of your experiment.

What a happy thought!

For those of us not among the 300 Harvard undergraduates enrolled in this course, Harvard is posting the lecture series for this class on youtube:

'From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science' Lecture Series

Happy Learning!

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