Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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Now you're cookin'!

People who do serious cooking are very concerned about how their pots and pans behave when heated and how effectively they transfer heat to the food in them. Three criteria that they are concerned about are: (1) having the pans heat quickly, (2) having the pans heat slowly and maintain their heat, (3) having the pans have a uniform temperature throughout. Some swear by pots and pans made of cast iron, some by pots and pans made of copper. Others like stainless steel for its finish and its ease of cleaning.

From considerations of the specific heats and heat conductivity of cast iron, copper, and stainless steel, discuss which might be better for which criterion and explain why you think so. (Note: "Some expert said so on the web" does not suffice. Your argument must be based on analysis of physical characteristics and the parameters of the materials.)

Discuss whether pans made of two or more layers of different materials might be able to provide combinations of more than one desirable properties.

(If you use any web information be sure to cite your source and explain why you trust it.)

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Page last modified December 4, 2008: M25