WHAT:           Demonstration: “The Chemistry of Your Thanksgiving Dinner”


WHEN:           Monday, Nov. 25, 2002, at 1 p.m.


WHERE:         Rice Auditorium, Maloney Hall

The Catholic University of America

620 Michigan Ave., N.E., Washington, DC

DETAILS:      A little known (and somewhat disturbing) fact: Paper towels and mashed potatoes have more in common than one might guess. Students find this out firsthand — by chewing on both — during Associate Professor Diane Bunce’s lecture and demonstration on the chemistry of Americans’ classic Thanksgiving dinner. During this class, a traditional turkey dinner will be on festive display as Bunce conducts her experiments at an adjacent table. She will be dressed in her traditional lab coat and pilgrim’s hat to explain:

• How a turkey timer works: Sealed within the plastic pop-up timer is a drop of solder which holds the spring down. As the internal temperature of the turkey rises, the solder melts, releasing the spring.

• Why muffins rise: As the reaction between the milk and baking soda progresses, it releases carbon dioxide, which rises and takes the batter with it. The heat of the oven bakes the batter in the risen position as the carbon dioxide is released.

• Why we can digest the starch in potatoes, but not in paper towels: Both starch and paper towels are made of glucose units that have bonded. Humans have an enzyme that can break those linkages in starch, thus releasing the glucose molecules that will eventually be used to fuel our bodies. We don’t have the enzyme to break down the glucose linkages in paper towels, however.

She also will explain what’s really in Coke and Diet Coke, and “most importantly, how antacids work.”

MEDIA:          Coverage of the Thanksgiving demonstration class is welcome; please contact Chris Harrison or Victor Nakas at 202-319-5600 for more information.