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YouTube / The New York Times
YouTube / The New York Times

The Physics of Jumping Popcorn

YouTube / The New York Times
YouTube / The New York Times

Have you ever wondered why popcorn "jumps" when it pops? This one-minute video from The New York Times shows the process in slow motion, narrating the key parts of a popcorn kernel's journey into a fluffy snack. It's based on a February research paper by Emmanuel Virot and Alexandre Ponomarenko. The paper is delightfully detailed—among other things, it compares kernels in motion to a gymnast's somersault. It also contains this passage in the Conclusion:

Concerning the jump, we found that a leg of starch is responsible for the observed motion. We note that the popcorn dynamic is twofold: the popping relies on a fracture as for explosive plants, while the jump relies on a leg as for animals. Concerning the ‘pop’ sound, we synchronized acoustic and video recordings: the scenario of an excitation by the water vapour release is consistent with our observations.

Science! Now here's video showing the popping process:

You can read more about the process from the Times.

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Bone Broth 101
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Whether you drink it on its own or use it as stock, bone broth is the perfect recipe to master this winter. Special thanks to the Institute of Culinary Education

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Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?
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If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).

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