The most extensive ever look at how popcorn pops resolves mysteries over its perfect cooking temperature, what happens when it pops and what causes the popping sound.
The research, published in a paper in the latest issue of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, found that popcorn behaves like both a plant and an animal as it pops.
The overall process involves many fields of scientific study that can be applied to understanding other phenomena, such as volcano eruptions and even the manufacture of Champagne.
"As we started to observe popcorn explosions, it turned out that this phenomenon contains interesting physics from different scientific fields: thermodynamics, biomechanics and acoustics," co-authors Emmanuel Virot and Alexandre Ponomarenko told Discovery News.
Virot is studying mechanics at École Polytechnique and is a lecturer at École Polytechnique and Pierre and Marie Curie University. Ponomarenko is conducting research during a postdoctoral fellowship at the French agency for agronomical research (INRA).
Both researchers were interested in, as they put it, "extreme events and plants." They began to analyze plants using high-speed cameras, which inspired the idea to study popcorn.