Dr. Derek Dunfield on TEDx Queen’s

April 30, 2013

Derek Dunfield grew up in Portland. He and our son became acquainted when Charlie (an English major) was offered a room on the astrophysicists floor in Morris Hall residence at Queen’s.

After Derek completed his Phd. he announced to Charlie that he was going to take some time to make maple syrup at the farm, and so he did. He represented the physics team. Martin Mallet led the biology team. Martin and Derek had radically different approaches to the theory and practice of boiling sap: Derek insisted that it didn’t matter if the pan stopped boiling when cold sap was added. Martin fancied the art of adding sap so gradually that the boil continued uninterrupted.

And so on it went up to and including theories on the formation of sugar sand. They never did solve that one, though Derek sent me an article published in the 1950’s which suggested that copper and zinc operate as catalysts to inhibit sand formation. From that I inferred that the recent rash of sugar sand in maple syrup likely stems from current regulations requiring the use of stainless steel boilers.

Both teams made fine maple syrup.

That summer Derek also came along to help pour the floor of the workshop we built on the property in 2010. He proved a game, if lightly-skilled, practitioner of the masonry arts. We appreciated his input, though.

This evening Charlie sent along a link to the TEDx Queen’s lecture. It was good to see and hear Derek again.



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