The Great Debate (part 1)

Although the `Great Debate’ is important to different people for different reasons, it is a clear example of humanity once again striving to find its place within the cosmic order. In the debate, Shapley and Curtis truly argued over the “Scale of the Universe,” as the debate’s title suggests. Curtis argued that the Universe is composed of many galaxies like our own, which had been identified by astronomers of his time as “spiral nebulae”. Shapley argued that these “spiral nebulae” were just nearby gas clouds, and that the Universe was composed of only one big Galaxy. In Shapley’s model, our Sun was far from the center of this Great Universe/Galaxy. In contrast, Curtis placed our Sun near the center of our relatively small Galaxy. Although the fine points of the debate were more numerous and more complicated, each scientist disagreed with the other on these crucial points.”

No, not that debate (which nobody won, by the way – they were both right on some points and wrong on others). 

The new version of The Great DebateInduction Cooktop vs. Multi-function Electric Pressure Cooker

As solar electricity becomes cheap enough to allow electric cooking to replace traditional biomass stoves, there are two technologies vying to be the MVA (Most Valuable Appliance).  In order to understand the debate, we must first understand these technologies. 

1800W Induction Cooktop

An induction cooktop (IC) is a direct replacement for the traditional three-stone stove, in that it heats up a single pot of food at a time.  However, unlike three-stone stoves (or their more modern electrical and gas-fired counterparts), which use “thermal conduction” to transfer heat into a pot, an induction cooktop uses a variable electric current to create an “induction field” which transfers the energy directly to the pot, rather than through a flame or other hot surface.

6 Quart Instant Pot Multi-function Electric Pressure Cooker

The Multi-function Electric Pressure Cooker (MEPC) (Instant Pot or its many imitators) is a self-contained multi-function appliance.  It consists of a resistive heating plate and a stainless steel “cooking pot” inside an insulated outer shell, along with a lid which can be used to seal the inner pot so it can be used at higher pressure.  The basic modes of the Instant Pot MEPC are sauté, steam, slow cook and pressure cook.  (Note, front button functions such as “Rice Cooker,” “Yogurt Maker” and “Cake” are served by combinations of these basic cooking modes.)

So how do they compare?  The next couple of blog posts will compare the two technologies in terms of maximum power use, types of cooking pots, cooking temperature, cooking time, energy efficiency, learning curve, recipe versatility and safety.