Citizen Scientists! Tackle this hundred year old question – can you fry an egg on a summer sidewalk? #citizenscience #summertime

frying eggs in a pan

A pan and a cooktop definitely will be easier

Since at least 1899, Americans have speculated about frying an egg on a summer sidewalk. Can it be done?

Short answer – no. Long answer – it depends. Ah! The joy of “it depends.”

You can’t believe YouTube! You didn’t really think you could, did you? You’ll have to try for yourself.

Do this at home, if you don’t mind making a mess. First – set the parameters of your experiment. How cooked must your egg become?

When you cook an egg, the heat transfers energy to the molecules, causing the proteins to unravel. After a few minutes, the strings of proteins weave and bind together, and most of the water evaporates.

Yolk proteins begin to condense near 150 degrees Fahrenheit, while the albumen proteins ovotransferrin and ovalbumin thicken near 142 and 184 degrees, respectively.

Let’s say you like runny yolks. Maybe softly-set egg whites too. So aim for… oh, let’s round it off and say, 140 degrees F.

I know from my wildland fire fighter training that dry grass baking in the sun can routinely reach 100 degrees F. A record for the highest official temperature on Earth comes from Death Valley USA:  134.1 degrees F (56.7 °C) That’s the temperature of the air, not a solid soaking up photons.

People quibble over that record, and you may not want to take your egg to Death Valley, but this seems promising.

It’s not just temperature that matters, it’s heat transfer. Ever bake a cake? Did you tap the cake’s top to judge if it’s done? Would you tap the pan? The difference is heat transfer rates.

So how about the sidewalk? Concrete isn’t the best material to transfer heat to a food item, which is why we don’t have a lot of concrete fry pans.

Asphalt would be better, “smoother and tighter, and also going to be hotter and hold its heat better… If you’ve got a road that’s at 150 or 155 degrees and you crack an egg onto it, it’s going to lower the temperature [at that spot], and that temperature’s not going to heat back up anytime soon.”

My home town in upstate New York, USA, has sidewalks made of slabs of black slate. Better than concrete for sure, but I don’t know how it compares to asphalt.

There are lots of ways to cook with solar ovens, and mirrors, aluminum foil, and magnifying glasses can help too. Is any such equipment allowed for your experiment?

Two cold drinks

I made one for you too

I tell you what. I’m going to sit in the shade with a cold drink. Let me know how your experiment turns out.

Thanks to for their article.

Earth Day 2019 offers a ‘try before you buy’ opportunity #EarthDay #insects #festival

Fried Spiced CricketsMy town of Silver City, New Mexico, USA celebrated Earth Day yesterday. It was a beautiful day in our park full of vendors, a little politics, and information on greenhouses and solar power (which works great in the American southwest.)

Also a booth from the local copper mines where I used to work. Sure, we have huge holes in the ground and huge piles of rocks on both sides of town. We need to protect our ground water and that’s a problem that will extend forever into the future. But if we can’t do a good job extracting copper, who can? Our world is built on copper. While we live in this world today, we need to keep building a better world.

I had a chance to try something new – insects. Free samples of crickets and mealworms, fried crisp, and (at least for the crickets) coated in spices. Very crispy and spicey – that’s my impression. They could have been chopped up bits of very thin chips, so I can’t really tell you what insects taste like. The samples ease Americans into the world of entomophagy.

Find out for yourself. I sent mealworms with my scifi Mars colonists, and here’s one recipe to try at home.

Earth Day in Silver City Gough Park 2019These are the same mealworms you know from home or schoolhouse reptile pets, but if buying lizard food makes you squeamish, they’re also packaged for humansFind prepared snacks here when you scroll down.

You can raise your own mealworms at home too – tiny pseudo-cattle for humanity’s future, because you get more protein using less land and water.

Happy Earth Day. She’s the only home we have.