It's True. Lattes Spill Less Than Coffee

Who knew?  Latte lovers rejoice.  You're far less likely to spill this sweet sip of this beverage than a coffee.


It's the foam.

According to a new study, scientists have found that just a few layers of bubbles can significantly dampen the sloshing motion of liquid. They actually stumbled upon this when looking into safer transport of liquefied gas in trucks and propellants in rocket engines.

Researchers studying the problem accidentally solved it with beer, initially.  "While I was studying for my Ph.D. in the south of France, we were in a pub, and we noticed that when we were carrying a pint of Guinness, which is a very foamy beer, the sloshing almost didn't happen at all," says Alban Sauret, who is currently a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at

The scientists took their observations from the coffeehouse and the pub to the laboratory, where they built an apparatus to test the damping power of foam more systematically. They constructed a narrow rectangular container made of glass, which they filled with a solution of water, glycerol (a common substance that increases the fluid viscosity) and the commercial dishwashing detergent Dawn.

By injecting air at a constant flow rate through a needle located at the bottom of the rectangular cell, the team created uniform layers of 3-millimeter-diameter bubbles. "The dishwashing foam is very stable, which allowed us to conduct the experiments without the bubbles disappearing," says François Boulogne, another member of the team. 

The researchers experimented with two types of movements, either jolting the apparatus with a quick, side-to-side motion or rocking it steadily back and forth. They recorded the resulting waves with a high-speed camera. They found that just five layers of foam were enough to decrease the height of the waves by a factor of ten.

The team believes that the foam dissipates the energy of the sloshing liquid through friction with the sides of the container. More than five layers of bubbles did not add much additional damping, because the top layers of foam didn't really move, they said. The team also found that bubbles that do not make contact with the walls of the container do not contribute much added damping.

So take that, coffee drinkers!


Popular posts from this blog

Think You're Pretty Smart? You May Actually Stink at Visual Skills, Crucial in Today's Digital World

Leave Your Ego at the Door

Did You Know Emojis Could Do THAT?