Increasing the size of a piece of popcorn

Paul V. Quinn, Daniel C. Hong, J. A. Both

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Popcorn is an extremely popular snack food in the world today. Thermodynamics can be used to analyze how popcorn is produced. By treating the popping mechanism of the corn as a thermodynamic expansion, a method of increasing the volume or size of a kernel of popcorn can be studied. By lowering the pressure surrounding the unpopped kernel, one can use a thermodynamic argument to show that the expanded volume of the kernel when it pops must increase. In this project, a variety of experiments are run to test the qualitative validity of this theory. The results show that there is a significant increase in the average kernel size when the pressure of the surroundings is reduced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-648
Number of pages12
JournalPhysica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Adiabatic expansion
  • Expansion rate
  • Low pressure
  • Size of popcorn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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