This was made for +Macro Monday, curated by Kerry MurphyJennifer Eden, and Kelli Seeger Kim, over at Google+. Today’s theme-within-a-theme is ‘Abstract.’ And I submitted this picture even though this is quite obviously a picture of something, rather than a ‘true’ abstraction. However, given that this ‘object’ (the photograph) is a collection of 1’s and 0’s graphically displayed on a screen that captures a moment in time so brief as to be virtually nonexistent (in human terms) and rather unintelligible, and is not the actual object itself: even if this were truly a picture of something—a flower, say, or a bee—it would always already be an abstraction by virtue its representational character.

/pseudo-aesthetico-philosophical rant

So what should the subtitle be? I think it should be something that suggests both a relaxing trip through a hot tub and a medieval punishment of some sort, maybe. Or something like ‘laborious labor day luncheon,’ or something that reflects the violence displayed by water when it is boiled in a nonstick pot.

If you’ve never noticed, water boils far more vigorously in nonstick pots than in stainless or aluminum varieties. I grew up with stainless pots and pans and boiled countless iterations of macaroni & cheese/some other sort of accompaniment, and I’ve boiled so infrequently since, that this uber-rapid boiling action looks very foreign to me. The bubbles created by the boiling are much smaller, and thus the undulations of the surface are much finer.

Is this due to something in the nonstick coating changing something in the water? Is it due to a new additive in city water supplies since ~2003 or so when I first started using nonstick cookware? If it’s the former, I’m scared: given that all cooking is a form of chemistry, what is the nonstick coating changing in the water, and what is the ingestion of same changing in me? If it’s the latter, I’m scared for a different reason: what sorts of mind control drugs have they started putting in the water, and to what end?

The first is question/fear is somewhat legitimate, and likely has an answer.

The second is very likely nonsense, given that I’ve seen this phenomenon in multiple cities throughout the southern, central, and northeastern United States.

And there are likely other, more reasonable explanations.

In fact, I expect the answer has to do with surface tension: the surface of the water that touches the bottom of the pot is broken by the convection currents created by heat, thereby creating bubbles and undulations. In a stainless pot, the bubbles of steam(?) grow much larger because the water is able to form something of a bond with the pot. With nonstick pots, this bond is far weaker due to the coating, and so the bubbles of gas never grow very large.

If I’m way off here, I hope someone will let me know. After all, I’m an Art Historian, not a chemist, and not even a chef. After all, I’m cooking ramen noodles here, and I added to the drained noodles one premade veggie burger patty that took a couple of trips through the toaster…

In any case, GoGo Science!

D7000. Nikon 75-150mm, f/3.5 Zomb-E Series (a zoom lens with a broken focus action that now functions only when reversed and provides a reproduction ratio of roughly 1:1.75), at maximum magnification. ISO100, 1/250th, f/16. SB700 at 1/32nd and zoomed to 105mm hard camera right, triggered via a set of Cactus v5 triggers. About 15 minutes of slider play in Aperture to bring out some colors, textures, and to create a mood, though I’m not sure what sort of mood it creates…

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