Popcorn and Milk

I’m reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder (http://www.ingallshomestead.com/giftshop_books.html). It’s the only book in the Little House series that I’ve never read, and I avoided it because it was about a boy. Well, I’m learning how foolish I was. I already love little Almanzo Wilder and his family, and last night I read something so intriguing that I was compelled to try it myself today. Here’s what I read, from Chapter 3:

You can fill a glass full to the brim with milk, and fill another glass of the same size brim full of popcorn, and then you can put all the popcorn kernel by kernel into the milk, and the milk will not run over. You cannot do this with bread. Popcorn and milk are the only two things that will go into the same place.

I did what it says, dear reader, and it is true! Why? If you know, please tell me. Sounds like a good science fair project. Or just something fun to do when you’re bored. (For thoughts and opinions about boredom and its virtues, go to my post “I Try to Be Bored as Often as Possible.”)

For more about the science you can find in Farmer Boy, go to “‘Farmer Boy’ Science, or ‘I Didn’t Know You Could Do That.'”

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6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Sandra Hume said,

    Even after all this time, I’ve never tried that myself! Kudos to you.

    ps: Good on ya to include a link to Ingalls Homestead’s gift shop. I’m usually too lazy to do anything other than link to Amazon. I’ll change that.

  2. 2

    Steve said,

    The short answer in one word, is DENSITY.

    Questions/Further testing:
    Have you proven this to be untrue for water?

    All-liquds hypothesis (well, two at least for sure):
    If it works for water too, then the simple answer for me is that the volume of the popcorn filling the glass is so (SO) full of air, which the liquid will easily fill up (and of course, push the less dense air out).

    Milk-only hypothesis:
    Surely the all-liquids hypothesis can account for a lot of the absorption (it’s really about the heavier molecules winning a shoving match). My guess is that milk, which is water, plus whey, plus fat (which we know is less dense, that is, lighter, since those of us above 45 years of age can probably remember the cream floating on the top of the milk bottle). Being overall less dense, it doesn’t need as much space, so more can fit in between and within the spongy, air filled popcorn.

    To get deeper into this, we could compare air-popped, microwave, and stove-top popcorn.

    Or just simply watch a movie. Just don’t forget the popcorn (with lots of milk minus the whey and water – – – butter).

  3. 3

    […] Gaissert shows that the questions and the learning never end! She presents Popcorn and Milk posted at The Expanding […]

  4. 4

    suni said,

    heh never knew that. pretty neat. glad you are enjoying the book šŸ˜€

  5. 5

    Juno said,

    We have had that before. I remember talking to my grandma about eating that and she said she remembers kids in school smelling like popcorn in the mornings. Cheap and filling. šŸ™‚

  6. 6

    Nikki said,

    Hey, thanks for putting your links up on my blog. Cool that you tried this, I intended on it but it whizzed out of my mind just as quickly lol.


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