Sunday, July 22, 2012

Popcorn Revealed

The scanning electron microscopes at Eastfield College are available for use by any student or faculty member free of charge.  In an effort to advertise this fact, once a week I take our small scanning electron microscope to the "Pit" so students, faculty, and staff can see it in action.

The Student Life organization at Eastfield is kind enough to come each week and give away free popcorn while I am there.  (It is dang good popcorn, by the way!)

Last week a young man, I am guessing Middle School aged, was eating in the Pit with his dad and came over to see what I was doing.  We dediced to put a piece of popcorn into the scope and see what it looked like.  Below are the images we made.

 Image 1:  Outer side of popcorn [30x]

Image 2:  Outer side of popcorn [250x]

Image 3:  Outer side of popcorn [1,200x]

 Image 4:  Inner side popcorn kernal [30x]

Image 5:  It is salted popcorn!! [250x]

It is pretty obvious that nature loves hexagons.  What first struck me was how much these exploding hexagons of starch look like the cells in a bee hive.  Bees build in hexgons because they can be tesselated - placed together with no wasted spaces - and because it allows them to build the largest volume for strorage with the least amount of material. 

I continue to be astonished by what the scanning electron microscope is able to show me.  Call and come by Eastfield and see what you can discover. 

Murry Gans
Scanning Electron Microscope Lab Coordinator
Eastfied College

It all begins here!


  1. As an embroiderer I too am fascinated by images that have been magnified. I would like to use one of your images in my experimental work would that be OK? I am in the UK

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