victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 14 23:59:25 UTC 2010

OED has an entry on "spherify". It is labeled as "rare" with a pair of
old cites.

> rare.
>  trans. To invest with a spherical form; to turn into a spherical body.
> 1848    E. A. Poe Eureka 74   Several fragments‥were‥spherified into a moon.
> 1866    R. Chambers Ess. 1st Ser. 197   The same attractive force which spherifies the tear of morning on the prickle of the thorn.

Poe's work also serves as a basis for derivative "spherification".

> 1848    E. A. Poe Eureka 75   Three moons‥having been formed‥by the rupture and general spherification of as many distinct ununiform rings.

Not to imply that this is obsolete, but over 18000 raw ghits suggest
that it's time to update. And it's a relatively new entry for OED--a
1974 book on Poe claimed that the word was /not/ in OED. Majority of
GB cites are to analysis of Poe's and Emerson's poetry, but the
majority of Google hits are for food items. So I will refrain from
offering a specific date for food usage.

"Spherification" (also note a number of ghits under
"spheriphication"+the Wiki article) is credited to El Bulli's Ferran
Adria as a significant part of his "molecular gastronomy" technique
(the latter is both in Wiki and in OED). Since most people don't
bother checking the OED, the coinage is attributed to a calque from
Catalan "Esferificació", which is the term used at El Bulli. As such,
the term has a somewhat narrower meaning than the OED definition,
although, ultimately, it comes down to turning something into a
sphere. Adria's spherification is the process (or rather the result of
any of a number of processes) of turning liquid foods into caviar-like
shapes with liquid or soft gelatinous center and a somewhat harder gel
"shell". It would be hard to argue with this re-coinage if the word
had not appeared in print long before Adria's
creations--"spherification" is a similar process (or processes) for
creating polymer spheres, although there is no similar restriction on
textures. For example,

Journal of the Ceramic Society of Japan, Volume 95, Issues [9-12].
1987 [Year is correct--verified within GB and is visible in the
snippet; the article was translated from vol. 95 No. 11 of the
Japanese version]
p. 1065
> Spherification of granules was made possible by the use of a method using surface tension of slurry (direct ...

I've also found some math papers that use "spherification" as
conversion from linear (Cartesian) to polar (spherical) coordinates,
but could not identify dates on any of them. Finally, there are some
biomedical references that I don't quite understand (at least not from
the snippets), but "spherification" appears to be the opposite of
"pseudopod fomation" (makes sense, actually). The 1983 reference for
this (http://goo.gl/Q1iaq) appears to be accurate (and the idea is
repeated in several other articles).


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