Imagine waking up one day, and finding all your favourite food deconstructed in its most basic components? This is not the pitch of the next popular cooking show, but the surprising experience of the presenter of Yummy Physics, a new web series on the physics of food!
Yummy Physics is an outreach project created by staff and students from The University of Edinburgh to share some of the Physics happening deep inside our food. Dr Marion Roullet, who conducted her PhD research at the Institute of Soft Condensed Matter, tells us more about this web series.
Why Yummy Physics?
It started from the observation that to most people, physics is either about very small stuff, like quantum physics, or about very large objects, like astrophysics. While some like the mystery of these fields, many find it very abstract and complicated, and thus think that physics is not their cup of tea.
We wanted to show that Physics is more varied than that, by shining a light on Soft Matter, that can be described as the “science of squishy stuff”. Most of our food is somehow squishy, so our kitchen is a vast playing field for physicists. Yummy Physics is about highlighting the fascinating physics that makes food delicious.
Why did you choose to make videos?
We had experience introducing food physics, often with hands-on workshops, at science festivals and other outreach events, like Soapbox Science and the 3 Minute Thesis Competition. Making videos seemed an obvious continuation of our efforts to reach a larger audience. The challenge for us was to keep this hands-on approach in the videos, so we decided to include experiments and animations to explain the scientific concepts.
What was the genesis of the project?
We knew we would require some funding for the production of the videos, given that our plans were quite ambitious. I was very lucky that the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, that fund my PhD, agreed for my research grant to be used for that purpose. I am extremely grateful to this program, and to my PhD supervisors, Dr Bill Frith and Dr Paul Clegg, who encouraged me to work on this project.
This generous funding made it possible for us to collaborate with the creative agency Daysix, based in Edinburgh. They are very experienced in film making, and they handled all the technical aspects of the project. They also helped improving our scripts, and they gave an artistic flair to the introductions of the videos.
Who was involved in Yummy Physics?
I launched the project, but many people from the School were involved. Dr JC Denis, our outreach officer, was very supportive and gave a lot of excellent advice. Several postdocs, Dr Anne Pawsey, Dr Elena Blanco and Dr Keith Bromley, acted as scientific advisors, providing ideas and feedback on the scripts. In terms of acting in the videos, we really wanted to show real-life scientists, although it made sense to have a professional actor as lead presenter. A good mix of students and staff members volunteered to be part of the project. So after working on the scripts, Dr Aidan Brown, Freya Bull, Indiarose Friswell, Harry Carstairs, and Dr Keith Bromley went to a studio in Leith to have their first experience of professional shooting, which was very impressive.
Yummy Physics was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 642774, as part of the research project COLLDENSE.