science

Spin All the Things!

October 18, 2017
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Visitors to the Belm Utility Research Kitchen, after seeing all of the gadgets and equipment, always ask “Is there anything else you need?” My answer is always the same: I’d like a chamber vacuum sealer and an ultracentrifuge. The former is within the realm of possibility (and budget), the latter remains a fantasy. Ultracentrifuges, even […]

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A Brief Career in Science Journalism

September 27, 2011
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Like Howl’s moving castle, Chez Belm houses a collection of autonomous processes over which I have little control. In the (almost) sixteen years that I’ve lived in the house, I have noticed that books and other printed matter eventually collect on the third floor in the room behind my office. In order to create a […]

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Still Waiting For My Food Pills

July 15, 2011
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This is a transcript of a talk I presented at Readercon 22 on Friday, July 15. Images are included as they appeared in the slide show. I had submitted the following description for the conference program guide: Cooking has always been based on science, but the connection was made explicit with the 1984 publication of […]

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Catastrophic Pump Meltdown

April 4, 2011
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My desire for precision and accuracy occasionally leads to trouble. It wasn’t enough to have constructed my own immersion circulator, I had to test it to make sure it would be accurate through the range of temperatures (60°C – 85°C) I would need for sous vide cooking. My plan was simple: I’d set the circulator […]

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Baby’s First Hydrocolloid Kit

March 9, 2011
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Today I had a revelation: My fascination with food and food chemistry began when I was a child, and it started with a toy. While my friends all begged their parents for Creepy Crawler sets, I asked for – and was given – an Incredible Edibles set. Both of these toys worked on the same […]

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Aero Chocolate, Version 2

December 31, 2010
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My first attempt at making aero chocolate turned out pretty well, but I was not satisfied with the final texture, which I found to be too dense. As I was considering making it again, my copy of Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work arrived, complete with the detailed aero chocolate recipe. A […]

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Hydrocolloid Experiment 1: Aero Chocolate

December 15, 2010
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I frequently rediscover ideas that have been dormant in the Deep Storage Facility of my long-term memory, triggered by a recent event or conversation. I was thinking about José Andrés’ Harvard lecture on the same day that a birthday present – an iSi canister – arrived, and I remembered that there was something I could […]

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Chef Chang’s House

December 9, 2010
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No, the beloved Boston Chinese restaurant hasn’t re-opened. I just couldn’t resist using the phrase to describe the last of the Science and Coking public lectures at Harvard. This was student final projects week, and since David Chang had been invited to be a judge, he was also asked to deliver the final lecture. His […]

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Bent Out of Shape

December 7, 2010

He Who Will Not Be Ignored came home yesterday with another reading comprehension homework assignment, the usual “read the story and answer questions” exercise that bores him to tears. Sometimes the story is just that – a short piece of fiction – but sometimes it’s a factual article or news report. Regardless of the content, […]

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Molecular Gastronomy in Orbit(z)

November 3, 2010
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The revolution in molecular gastronomy did not begin with Ferran Adrià’s experiments at El Bullí in 1998, it began the year before, and was heralded by the marketing of one of the least successful soft drinks ever created. In the late spring of 1997 I was walking through Harvard Square when I was accosted by […]

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