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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Understanding diffusion theory and Fick's law through food and cooking

  • Author(s): Zhou, L
  • Nyberg, K
  • Rowat, AC
  • et al.

Diffusion is critical to physiological processes ranging from gas exchange across alveoli to transport within individual cells. In the classroom, however, it can be challenging to convey the concept of diffusion on the microscopic scale. In this article, we present a series of three exercises that use food and cooking to illustrate diffusion theory and Fick's first law. These exercises are part of a 10-wk undergraduate course that uses food and cooking to teach fundamental concepts in physiology and biophysics to students, including nonscience majors. Consistent demonstration of practical applications in a classroom setting has the potential to fundamentally change how students view the role of science in their lives (15).

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