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Dropped popcorn kernel from space will it pop?

  1. Feb 6, 2009 #1
    "If You Dropped a Corn Kernel From Space, Would it Pop During Re-Entry?"

    This wacky question way emailed to the magazine Popular Science insufficiently answered in Jan 2009 p.80

    is it possible to figure mathematically this out without testing it
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2009 #2


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    Staff Emeritus
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    First ask - under what conditions does a kernel of popcorn pop, i.e. what causes a kernel to pop?

    Then ask, can a kernel of popcorn achieve these conditions during re-entry, or even in space, given the available sunlight and vacuum conditions?
  4. Feb 6, 2009 #3


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    "First ask" - I'm going to guess heat causes sufficient pressure inside the kernel.

    During atmospheric re-entry it gets pretty hot. Would the kernel vaporize or just burn instead of pop?
  5. Feb 7, 2009 #4
    Would the falling corn actually have enough speed to get hot during re-entry though?
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