I am less enthralled by the “molecular gastronomy” thing than someone with my geek credentials ought to be. As a result, I was a little disappointed when I clicked the link (from Jennifer Ouellette on Twitter) to this Wired story about a new tv show called Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen. Because, you know, there are much more fun things that the combination of “Quantum” and “Kitchen” could evoke:

  • A kitchen whose dishes all come in discrete and indivisible portions. You can’t eat half and take the other half home– it’s all or nothing…
  • You can either know what you’re making, or how long it will take to cook, but not both at once…
  • A kitchen where a watched pot really never boils, thanks to the Quantum Zeno Effect
  • Is your entree cooked, or still raw? You won’t know until you cut into it…
  • You can’t know in advance whether you’re getting beef or chicken, but you know with certainty that whatever you got, the diner at the other end of the room got the same thing…
  • A kitchen whose products are indistinguishable from those of a classical kitchen at high temperature, but diverge dramatically at low temperature. The liquid nitrogen ice cream is like nothing you’ve ever seen…

And so on. Feel free to add your own quantum cookery items in the comments.

(Somewhat more seriously, you could probably cover a decent amount of modern physics through looking at things that go on in the typical kitchen. Blackbody radiation from heating coils, phase transitions both boiling and freezing, excitation of vibrational transitions with microwaves, entropy of mixing fluids, etc. This is not a terribly original observation, I know, but most science-of-cooking things focus on chemistry, rather than physics…)

Comments

  1. #1 Kate from Iowa
    March 23, 2011

    Don’t worry about the whole molecular gastro angle…from the really disappointing pilot, it looks like it’s going to be much more a personality show like…well…most of what’s on as “reality” anymore.

    The idea of Marcel whatever his last name is existing in two places at once is terrifying. It’s rather short and has goofy hair, but still terrifying.

  2. #2 Tom
    March 23, 2011

    Entangled cooking. Flip a pancake or burger. On one stove, one side gets cooked while the other side gets cooked on a remotely located stove.

    I’d add waiter bunching and antibunching, but that phenomenon is already observed in restaurants.

  3. #3 BM
    March 23, 2011

    The grapes in the fridge do not *gradually* go bad. Instead, at random times, they leap from the spherical l=0 state to one of the inedible higher states.

    However, six months from now, if some of the grapes are still in the l=0 state, they’re indistinguishable from fresh grapes.

  4. #4 ThirtyFiveUp
    March 23, 2011

    My niece by marriage travels the world teaching this meshuga.

    She earns big bucks.

    http://quantummethod.org.bd/

    She is Bangladeshi.

  5. #5 Kate from Iowa
    March 23, 2011

    Er…you are aware that that’s an entirely different misuse of “quantum” than that of syfy’s new show and are joking, yeah? Because er…that site has nothing to do with molecular gastronomy, ThirtyFiveUp.

  6. #6 rehana
    March 23, 2011

    Harvard seems to have a science of cooking class in the physics department. Sadly, only the cooking demos are on youtube, not the physics lectures.

  7. #7 Dan Blum
    March 23, 2011

    Not quantum cooking, but here are some “nuclear gastronomy” recipes: http://irregularwebcomic.net/2961.html

  8. #8 ThirtyFiveUp
    March 23, 2011

    Kate from Iowa,

    Sorry, no TV at my home, just puzzled by the peanut butter and quantum sandwiches everywhere.

  9. #9 SpyglassLA
    March 23, 2011

    ThirtyFiveUp’s link belongs in the domain of Orac.
    Some gems from the site:

    “Quantum Method is the science of well being. Its starts with helping us change our attitude. The new attitude gives birth to new dendrites, i.e. new connecting paths between the neurons in our brain.”

    “when a person engages in profound meditation his consciousness takes a leap similar to the Quantum leap of electrons orbiting around the nucleus.”

    LOL

  10. #10 Neil B
    March 24, 2011

    Well, if the “weak measurements” idea can be fruitful (repeated, separately non-collapsing measurements that build up picture of a wave function), maybe the quantum kitchen would allow heating up a tub of mucky who-knows-what several times over until you could see it resolved into various vegetables in sauce. I’ve got my own ideas on that, see name link.

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