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Food for thought: science in the kitchen

Press release issued: 21 October 2002

Media release
Food for thought: science in the kitchen

This week sees the start of four free lunchtime public lectures at which Bristol University physicists Dr Peter Barham and Dr Len Fisher talk about science in the kitchen.

The interactive talks, organised by the University's Public Programmes Office, take place in the Waddelow Hall, Broadmead Baptist Church, Union Street (entrance between Carwardine and Tesco) on Wednesdays from 1 to 2 pm.

At the first talk [October 23], Taste, flavour and survival, they will demonstrate how easy it can be to fool our perception of flavour and show why we like or dislike certain flavours.

Ice cream delights on November 6 will explain the physical principles involved in high-quality ice cream. They will also reveal the laws of thermodynamics, the significance of the colour of ice and how to measure the temperature of Antartica a million years ago. There will be demonstrations together with the opportunity for ice cream tasting too.

On November 27, Releasing hidden flavours will reveal how to make food taste as appetizing as possible. The talk will outline the simple science behind the tricks that we all use, such as dunking biscuits in tea or adding gravy to a roast dinner. They will also divulge the methods chefs use to enhance the flavour of food, from the humble boiled egg to smoked salmon or asparagus soup. The talk will end by showing how science can be used to improve many areas of domestic cooking.

Finally, on December 11, Dr's Barham and Fisher will admit to their own cooking disasters and show how they now avoid them in Kitchen disasters and how to fix them. Members of the audience will be invited to share their own cooking problems, which the scientists will try to resolve.

No pre-booking is necessary and members of the audience are welcome to bring their sandwiches.

Dr Peter Barham was recently awarded the Kelvin Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics in its 2003 Awards for his innovative public activities promoting physics.

Dr Barham has inspired thousands of people with his creative approach to science communication. His lecture topics include chocology (emulsions and composite materials), ice cream (thermodynamics) and passion for penguins (heat transfer and thermal insulation). He has been giving about 50 talks a year for over a decade, mostly in his spare time, as well as being involved in organising public events, writing a book called The science of cooking and regularly writing for newspapers.

Dr Len Fisher is the author of a new book that takes a scientific look at the familiar and the everyday as a way of opening the door to science, and showing, from an insider's viewpoint, what it feels like to be a scientist, what things scientists do, why they do it and how they go about it. The book, entitled How to Dunk a Doughnut - the Science of Everyday Life is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson at £12.99.

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Copyright: 2002 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Monday, 21-Oct-2002 11:37:10 BST

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