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Physics Major Cooks Chicken by Slapping It

Credit: Unsplash

As the old saying goes, science isn’t about “why,” it’s about “why not?”

Okay, I’m gonna lay some dime-store physics on you: physical motion creates kinetic energy, and kinetic energy can be transformed into heat and electricity, like a radio or flashlight with a hand crank on it. So, going by that logic, theoretically speaking, if one were to generate a sufficient amount of kinetic energy, it would, in turn, generate enough heat to cook a chicken. Again, this is purely theoretical; no one in their right mind would try it. Except for one guy, apparently.

A few years ago, an anonymous redditor on the “No Stupid Questions” Subreddit asked how hard you would need to slap a chicken to produce the energy necessary to cook it. A handful of physics buffs took this as a challenge, apparently. A physics major on Facebook named Parker Ormonde ran the numbers and came to a mildly absurd conclusion.

“As your friendly neighborhood physics major, I decided to calculate this with a few assumptions. The formula for converting between kinetic energy and thermal energy 1/2mv2=mcT,” he wrote on Facebook.

“The average human hand weighs about .4kg, the average slap has a velocity of 11 m/s (25mph), an average rotisserie chicken weighs 1kg (2lbs) and has a specific heat capacity of 2720J/kg*c, and let’s assume the chicken has to reach 205C (400F) for us to consider it cooked. The chicken will start off frozen so 0C (32F).”

He concluded that “to cook the chicken in one slap, you would have to slap it with a velocity of 1665.65 m/s or 3725.95 mph.” He added, however, that if multiple average human slaps were allowed, “it would take 23,034 average slaps to cook a chicken.”

Going by this math, a YouTuber named Louis Weisz constructed a “chicken slapper,” a fake hand mounted on a pneumatic device that could rapidly slap a chicken. The problem was that the rapid slapping would completely obliterate the chicken before it could be cooked, so after some tweaks such as sealing the chicken inside a bag, he was able to successfully cook a chicken by slapping it. It only took around 8 hours and around 135,000 slaps, but it was cooked to an edible point. So… victory for science, I guess?