6th Squishy Physics Saturday - “Gelation, Sous vide and Caramelization”

Primary tabs

Admissions: Free - Registration required to attend: Register now

The 6th Squishy Physics Saturday will discuss Gelation, Sous-Vide, and Caramelization. Lectures and demonstrations will be carried out by Helluva Engineer and Chef Tim Ma, and by Pia Sörensen, Preceptor of Food Science at Harvard University.

Gelation is everywhere in cooking. It is the process by which a small amount of chain-like molecules, which we call polymers, become a network that is solid-like, despite much of the material is still a liquid. For example, 2 teaspoons (7 g) of gelatin is enough to completely solidify 2 cups (450 g) of water! Everytime you cook and egg, thicken a sauce with a starch, or even just use some jam, you are taking advantage of some sort of polymer gelation.

If gelation is part of the science of texture, then caramelization is part of the science of flavor. Take some sugar molecules, heat them up, and watch as the sugar breaks down and then recombines in hundreds and thousands of different ways. From a single type of molecule that only tastes “sweet”, caramelization results in the “nutty”, “rum-like”, or even “toasted” flavors that we all know and love.

Our Speakers:

Tim Ma risked it all 9 years ago by leaving behind a career in engineering.  A successful engineering career that begin in Atlanta, on the beautiful campus of Georgia Tech. Tim graduated from Georgia Tech and worked as an electrical engineer for government contractors in the DC area for 8 years. 

He attributes his success as a chef to his time at Georgia Tech and his time as an engineer. The work ethic, the meticulous way of creating and inventing, the determination and curiosity of engineers to seek the how and the why have all played a big role in his culinary career.

Pia Sörensen is Preceptor at the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University. She is a co-instructor of the General Education course Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science, and was the lead producer in its recent remodeling to Science & CookingX, an online version of the same course with 200,000 registered students.

Sörensen’s research interests range from science and engineering education — with an emphasis on online education and creative ways of teaching science and engineering in a liberal arts setting.  Register for your free ticket now


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Alison Morain
  • Created:02/09/2017
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:04/13/2017