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Out of this world cuisine

28 Jun 2016

Astronomy has always captured the public imagination thanks to its stunning images and the sense of wonder it can evoke. But concepts such as dark energy can feel quite abstract and there is a sense that astrophysics research is only done by people with giant brains and access to astronomically expensive equipment. This month’s podcast profiles a new outreach project attempting to make cosmology more palatable – literally – by serving space-inspired canapés accompanied by a cosmology lecture

g-ASTRONOMY is a collaboration between the Imperial College London astrophysicist Roberto Trotta and chef Jozef Youssef, who is the author of a new book Molecular Gastronomy At Home. Molecular gastronomy is the branch of cooking concerned with the underlying scientific principles of food and the techniques used to produce it. In the media it is often associated with the type of experimental fine-dining experiences created by world-renowned chefs such as Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal.

After meeting at the Cheltenham Science Festival in 2015, Trotta and Youssef embarked on a mission to break down the preconceptions about their respective disciplines. They worked with Youssef’s team at Kitchen Theory to develop a selection of canapés inspired by cosmology. This food is presented as part of a show called g-ASTRONOMY, during which diners are guided through the food while learning about molecular gastronomy and the cosmology concepts along the way.

A year later and Trotta and Youssef are back at the Cheltenham Science Festival to present one of the first outings of the g-ASTRONOMY show. The menu included a cocktail with layers representing distinct epochs of the early universe and a trio of chocolate truffles inspired by the idea of parallel universes. Physics World journalist James Dacey was at the event to find out more about the food, the motivations behind the project and what the collaborators plan to do next. It’s sure to be one of the tastier podcasts that you’ll hear this month.

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