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April 21, 2005 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Research at Purdue University yields answers to one of the world's largest unsolved mysteries.
posted by Ron (12 comments total)

 
In the best popping kernels, the pericarp is composed of a stronger, more highly ordered crystalline arrangement of the cellulose molecules than the pericarp of the poorer performing varieties, according to Hamaker and crystallographer Rengaswami Chandrasekaran, one of the team members. In laboratory studies, the researchers demonstrated that these stronger crystalline structures tend to maximize moisture retention, leading to a more complete rupture and fewer unpopped kernels.

Their conclusion is the exact opposite of what I assumed as I was reading the article. Interesting. Thanks.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:23 PM on April 21, 2005


Interesting, but kinda useless, i think--is it even a problem? And genetic engineering to make corn always pop is way overkill.

Or is it a bid to get more research money from Redenbacher and PopSecret?
posted by amberglow at 9:04 PM on April 21, 2005


Somebody is looking to add a Ig Nobel prize to their collection. Perhaps they should do more work on the Guinness bubble problem or the wily ways of shower curtains. To think all these years I just assumed the left over 10% was because God hated me. Thank you Science, I'm freed from my simple folk dogma!

You know where these questions come from, right?
All of these scientists have 8-year-olds.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 9:59 PM on April 21, 2005


Way to burst my bubble, from your description I thought that this might be actually significant.

At the same time, I imagine this will revitalize the stagnant popcorn industry.
posted by sid at 10:21 PM on April 21, 2005


i've never seen so many google ads for popcorn before.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:53 PM on April 21, 2005


I like the half-popped kernels. A little crunchy. A lot delicious.
posted by gunthersghost at 11:14 PM on April 21, 2005


Microwave popcorn? YUCK! Orville does not recommend microwave popcorn. The fact its sold in his name today doesn't matter.
posted by Goofyy at 1:27 AM on April 22, 2005


Congratulations for posting something you heard on Paul Harvey. Way to go.
posted by thisisdrew at 7:16 AM on April 22, 2005


There's a better and cheaper way . . .

I pop my corn on the stove, 1/3 cup in a dab of olive oil. Unpopped kernels: 5 or fewer, every time. It takes about 3.5 minutes.

Just an example of my life-hack skills :)
posted by iwearredsocks at 7:22 AM on April 22, 2005


iwearredsocks: Don't forget the frequent shaking to get the unpopped kernels to fall to the bottom and prevent popped kernals from burning.

Stove-top popping is more fun, what with the louder explosions and old schoolness. I'm surprised they didn't mention kernel moisture content, as I'd imagine this would play an important role in getting things to blow up.
posted by Mercaptan at 7:29 AM on April 22, 2005


Phew, now they can move on to more important things like making sure chocolate chips are evenly distributed in cookies and creating a more uniform rice krispy.

If you took a survey of life’s small annoyances, surely those unpopped kernels at the bottom of the popcorn bag would rank high on the list. Um, I think they have drastically overestimated the importance of unpopped popcorn kernels. This wouldn't even make my list of annoyances. Now a microwave that doesn't scorch the corn is quite high on my list. I think it should be illegal to sell a microwave that doesn't fit a full sized bag of popcorn.
posted by fenriq at 9:13 AM on April 22, 2005


Microwaves? Stovetops? Doesn't anybody use hot air poppers anymore? I love mine so much, I think I'm going to name it. At this point, going back to the stovetop would be about as much fun as mining coal by hand.
posted by GoatCactus at 8:10 PM on April 23, 2005


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