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Better living through chemistry, Thanksgiving style

November 23, 2009 |  1:48 pm

Listen up, all you science geeks: Do you want to be the star of Thanksgiving dinner? Then watch this video.

Taped a few days ago at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the video features a lecture and demonstration given by chemistry professor Diane Bunce. Bunce is also associate editor for chemical education research for the American Chemical Society's Journal of Chemical Education. She dons a pilgrim-esque bonnet and apron -- and then a lab coat -- to explain how chemistry and Thanksgiving intersect. Watch it and you'll amaze and possibly annoy friends and family with your newfound knowledge!

We won't provide any spoilers, but topics include how a pop-up turkey timer works (hint: it doesn't exactly have to do with the turkey) and why we eat mashed potatoes instead of paper towels (hint: it has to do with the molecular makeup of carbohydrates and cellulose). But wait -- there's more! Ever wonder what makes muffins rise? The answers are here. And don't miss the part about which antacids neutralize the most stomach acid. That could be key on Thursday. The video is also available on the Bytesize Science website, sponsored by the ACS.

We were riveted throughout the 23-minute video, and watching it we realized that had we had a professor like Bunce, no doubt chemistry would have been a lot more fun.

— Jeannine Stein