A packed audience filled Science Center Hall C on Monday, passing around samples of spherical gelatinized spinach during a public lecture entitled “Diffusion and Spherification.” The lecture was the fourth in a series associated with the popular course Science of the Physical Universe 27: “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science.”
Ever since the inception of the series four years ago, the public lectures have been drawing crowds. This year was no different, with a line forming more than two hours before the start of the event. The immense popularity of the series came as a surprise to the course’s instructors.
“Years ago, we had our lecture at Jefferson 250. We had set the lecture for 6:30 but by 4:30, the room was packed, and we had to deal with overflow,” said applied mathematics professor and course instructor Michael P. Brenner.
According to Brenner, one of the main aims of the lecture series is to shed light on the culinary process by using fantasy foods to illuminate scientific processes that are important in everyday life.
The lecture was intertwined with videos and live preparations of spherical mojitos and round yogurt.
The speaker, award-winning, Spanish chef José Andrés, shared his take on the history of gelatin and treated the audience to amusing quips. Andrés has presented every year since the public lectures began.
“I could do presentations like this every other day. I love this one for a different reason. At Harvard, you can make it very serious, and you can make it funny,” Andrés said.