Sunday, January 23, 2005

Orange crush

The great Alton Brown was in town yesterday as part of his book tour. He was, in person, everything you'd expect him to be; he talked briefly about baking (the subject of his new book), then answered questions before signing books for the several hundred people who were there. He practices the classy celebrity art of introducing himself to everyone as they come up: "Hi, I'm Alton." Mary Jo Pehl did the same thing after her live show last year. In line, I finally had a chance to get an answer to a stupid question that's perplexed me since I was a wee lad: Why is it that, at a picnic or cookout, orange soda gets warm so much faster than the other sodas?

In fine Socratic form, Alton (if you were present for the Neil Patrick Harris incident last summer in New York, I can call him that because he introduced himself to me as such) asked me why I thought that might be the case.

"'s a bright colored liquid in a transparent bottle..."

"Would it happen in cans?"

"Not if what I just said is right, because they're opaque..."

"Exactly. It has to do with the spectrum of the liquid and the opacity of the bottle. And that is not a stupid question."

I was impressed by how singly he focused his attention on me while we spoke and how damn serious he was about telling me my question wasn't stupid. He really takes the educative part of his work seriously. That's really damn cool.

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