Super-popular Harvard Science & Cooking course goes online with edX

The Science and Cooking lectures at Harvard have been SRO since launched a few years ago. They tend to be more about about chemistry than nutrition, as in the science of the  deep-fried hamburger. Still, the more you know about your food — like those carcinogens you cooked up on the grill yesterday — the better. (Footnote –  The Globe just published some non-carcinogenic approaches to grilling.)

Here’s a post from Nature Network Boston on a session by Nathan Myhrvold,  physicist, Microsoft millionaire, patent defender and author of the 2,428-page, 42-pound,$625 cookbook:  Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.


During each week of the course, you will watch as chefs reveal the secrets behind some of their most famous culinary creations — often right in their own restaurants. Inspired by such cooking mastery, the Harvard team will then explain, in simple and sophisticated ways, the science behind the recipe.

Topics will include: soft matter materials, such as emulsions, illustrated by aioli; elasticity, exemplified by the done-ness of a steak; and diffusion, revealed by the phenomenon of spherification, the culinary technique pioneered by Ferran Adrià.

To help you make the link between cooking and science, an “equation of the week” will capture the core scientific concept being explored. You will also have the opportunity to be an experimental scientist in your very own laboratory — your kitchen. By following along with the engaging recipe of the week, taking measurements, and making observations, you will learn to think both like a cook and a scientist. The lab is also one of the most unique components of this course — after all, in what other science course do you get to eat your lab?


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