comScore Science Finally Understands How Popcorn Pops | The Mary Sue
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Science Now Understands How Popcorn Pops; All Things Are Possible

What is the sound of one pop popping?

Scientists doing the truly important work of our time have finally discovered exactly how popcorn pops with fittingly beautiful slow motion video. Leave it to scientists to make a “popcorn movie” literal.

Aeronautical engineer Emmanuel Virot and physicist Alexandre Ponomarenko weren’t content with science’s understanding of popcorn that has served only to improve the food’s quality. No, since popcorn is already perfect and delicious, they thought we could all use a puff piece about how the distinctive pop unleashes nature’s fluffy treat, and their results were published today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

After all, popcorn is the only popping food that undergoes such an incredible transformation as it’s heated, which makes for interesting studies in thermodynamics, biomechanics, and acoustics as far as Virot and Ponomarenko are concerned. They were able to determine that popcorn’s tendency to shoot into the air isn’t propelled by escaping steam like a rocket, but it’s actually hurled into a beautiful somersault by the force with which its “leg” extends as the kernel cracks open.

They also determined that 180 degrees Celsius (or 356 degrees in American) is the ideal popping temperature, and the sound isn’t actually caused by the kernel cracking open but by the release of the water vapor that causes popcorn kernels to reveal their delicious insides. As you can see in this comically dramatic video, the sound occurs well after the kernel has broken:

What an amazing age of enlightenment we live in. Now show me slow motion video of how pizza cheese bubbles form!

(via LA Times)

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