Saturday, April 16, 2016

Kitchen Optics

I made mussels the other night for dinner. And afterwards, as I was cleaning the pot, this caught my eye:

Colors. Colors on the bottom of the pot. And as the pot dried the colors grew more intense.

It was very difficult to get a shot that showed just how intense the colors were. As I noted above, as the pot dried the colors seemed to grow in intensity. So I grabbed a paper towel and wiped the pot.

And the colors went away. Nooooo!

But they came back and I was able to get the shot above.

Of course I went to the Atmospheric Optics site to learn what was going on. As I suspected, and Dr. Cowley confirmed, colors arise from thin film interference. He said that they could be from either something from the mussels or from an oxidation layer on the bottom of the pot. Once the pot had been cleaned and dried completely the colors were gone. So it looks like the mussels were the culprit. Too bad, as it would have been nice to have a psychedelic rainbow pot!

And Dr. Cowley is also responsible for the title of his post. His reply to my email inquiry begins, "I rather like 'kitchen optics' - colours and effects that are seen around the home can give some deep insights into optics and physics.".

So pay attention while cooking, you could learn something cool about the universe.

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