g-Astronomy is an ongoing, cross-disciplinary research project that aims at creating an immersive, multi-sensorial experience to engage the public with some of the most fascinating questions of modern astrophysics and cosmology: the nature of dark matter, the properties of black holes, and the origin of the Universe.

Astrophysicist and science communicator Dr Roberto Trotta has joined efforts with experimental gastronomy chef Jozef Youssef and his team at Kitchen Theory to develop an interactive culinary experience that translates these questions into dishes designed to embody in a metaphorical (but scientifically accurate) way some of the core physical characteristics of dark matter, black holes, and the Big Bang.

With this collaboration, Roberto and Jozef aim to short-circuit the perception of astrophysics and cosmology being “brainy” subjects that can often be seen as daunting by members of the public and young adults. Instead, they use food and the sensorial experience it entails as a tool to engage a wider public. g-Astronomy thus translates complex ideas into a relatable and interactive (and not to mention delicious) medium: food.

Roberto presented the g-Astronomy concept and the research process they have devised for this award-winning collaboration. He shared their experience in presenting g-Astronomy at the Cheltenham Science Festival 2016, and at an event for people with sight loss (in collaboration with the Royal National Institute of Blind People) in March 2017. The audience was left with the question whether and how food and taste can become a new, creative medium to engage with astronomy and cosmology in a multi-sensorial way that is not limited to vision and its aesthetic references.

g-Astronomy is supported by the Institute of Physics, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK.

If you are curious of what the universe tastes like, follow Roberto on Twitter and check out some images from previous g-Astronomy events below (alt-text transcriptions available).

An image of 3D printed Cosmic Microwave Background maps based on work by Dave Clements (Imperial). They are round, white, and about the size of a tennis ball except hollowed out with an opening at the top, like a mug.

An image of the 3D printed maps from the previous image, except now there is a glass of orange liquid inside the 3D printed mold. A man's hand is holding it as if he is about to drink it. The caption says "g-Astronomy for people with visual impairment, March 14th 2017". The twitter handle @R_Trotta is in the corner as a watermark. There are three testimonials in quotes: "I've never experienced anything like it before", "I cannot stop thinking about it!", "Life changing"

Small, round balls of chocolate-type treats that look like truffles or some kind of luxurious confectionary are laid out on a table in arrays of 7x6. There are three flavours, each in these arrays (but the two flavours at the edge of the pictures are cut off). The first flavour is labelled "Empty Universe" and the balls are dusted white, as if rolled in fine sugar or coconut. The middle flavour is labelled "Fine-tuned Universe" and consists of chocolate balls rolled in some kind of lighter brown shavings, maybe milk chocolate or nuts. The last flavour is labelled "Closed Universe" and is a dark, almost burgundy type of brown. These look like they have been dusted in dark cocoa powder or similar.

This image consists of three images, showing a bowl of rising dough at three different time intervals. The first bowl shows the dough before it has risen very much if at all, and it has round "Cheerios" type cereal placed on top of the dough. There is a darker one in the middle, and from it, a small stick measuring the distance between the dark, central Cheerio and the one next to it. In the second and third picture, the dough rises, increasing the distance between the Cheerios (more risen in the third than the second). The distance between the Cheerios increase, as demonstrated by the stick, illustrating the growing distances between galaxies as the Universe expands

NanoTip: g-Astronomy — Eating Galaxies for Breakfast
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