Listening to the Sizzle

French fries bubbling in hot oil.

The sizzle of frying food is familiar to many a cook, and that sound actually conveys a surprising amount of information. In this study, researchers suspended water droplets in hot oil and observed their behavior, both with high-speed video and with microphones. They found that these vaporizing drops created three types of cavities in the oil: an exploding cavity that breaks the surface, an elongated cavity that remains submerged, and an oscillating cavity that breaks up well below the surface. All three cavities flung oil droplets upward, and all three were acoustically distinct from one another. That means, as the authors suggest, that it might be possible to measure the aerosol droplets generated during frying simply by listening! (Image credit: fries – W. Dharma, others – A. Kiyama et al.; research credit: A. Kiyama et al.; via Cosmos; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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