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Renovating the wheel
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Shallow frying is a common food preparation technique.
Our example today will be the fried egg. This can be
to look easy with a new non-stick pan or carefully
iron surface. However, if external parties operate a
definition of "dishwasher safe", then frying an egg can
become a sticky mess quite quickly.
The key seems to be the maintenance of a hydrophobic
surface. This is achieved by coating with PTFE or
seasoning, where long-chain fats are polymerized to iron.
Now, we should be able to replicate this
by simply adding cooking oil before the egg. Sadly, this
does not work as the oil is less dense than the egg, which
mostly water. The egg will always have a tendency to
through the oil*.
The problem here, on Earth at least, is the relative
densities of the cooking apparatus. The pan is likely
iron, aluminium, something like that. Nice and dense at
the bottom, good. The top is the egg, with a density of
about 1.025 g/cm3. Now, we can't really change that,
if we still want to fry eggs. The problem is the oil, taking
stearic acid as my model fatty acid,** it's density is all
wrong. It's 0.94 at room temp but worse, 0.85 g/cm3
heated a little. Water, therefore egg, barely changes
So, we need new oil. I recommend leaving chemists out
this since chemistry labs smell bad and they would
probably just suggest mercury. Instead, let's feed our oil-
producing mechanism of choice*** a diet heavily enriched
C14 and deuterium. Assuming 100% labeling, stearic acid
now has a molecular mass of 356, up from 284. 125%,
which brings out heated oil density to 1.06! Crucially,
than a warm egg!
Now, we have a solution. The cooking apparatus has a
pleasing descending density from bottom to top, and the
egg should float above the oil and not stick to the pan.
*I'm willing to establish the role of gravity in oil cooking
should research funding be forthcoming. The outline plan
involves commercial deep fryers, the vomit comet and
public figure that gets the most internet points these
**oils are mostly triglycerides with mixed fatty acid
Further detail is unnecessary and would require talking
||Surely the simpler solution is to leave the egg and oil as they
are, but fry them from above?
||I considered this. At first glance, this makes sense. You
can go, bottom to top: egg, oil, pan. This leaves a
problem, but a solvable one. Simply find a frying pan with
a lower density than the oil. I was some way into the
search for this substance, when I realized that I was
missing one component of the density stack, namely air.
This is an issue, since the egg, oil, unobtanium pan and
heat source have the irritating tendency to want to sink
through the lower air layer.
||The solution to this, of course, is to replace air with
something denser than egg. Fortunately, I'd already
thought of that: a heavy isotope swapped oil. Simply fill
the entire kitchen level to the bottom of the egg, find a
thermally conductive solid with a density below
~0.75g/cm3, and you're in business.
||Deuterium is actually toxic to the typical biology of your planet. Molecules incorporating D instead of H, particularly enzymes, exhibit different activity.
||So your oil production process is going to have to be fully synthetic, despite the fact you're producing an organic compound. The smelly chemical lab is throught that door over there; be polite, they have lots of dangerous materials close to hand.
||Also, minor point but the oil is going to be toxic to any organism that consumes it. We strongly recommend extensive LD50 trials using the feline model. As a guide, the lethal dose of most long- chain paraffins is about 10 litres; use a 25 litre container otherwise when you hold them under, it slops over the edge snd is wasted. 10 litres can deliver a whole afternoon of amusement at a very modest price, and then you can use the remaining liquid to destroy the evidence by burning the heap of bedraggled little corpses you've collected.
||Not sure I've calculated it correctly, but it looks like your oil should generate about a watt or so per kilogram.
||And radiocarbon date to about a quarter-million years in the future.