Why We Need Scientists Dept

You’ll be glad to know that scientists from U.C. Santa Barbara have been doing critical safety research: namely, they wanted to explore the physics of how not to spill coffee. Having rigged a high-tech coffee mug with miniature sensors to record the exact instant at which a spill took place, and set up cameras, a suitable coffee-carrying-through-office course, etc., they were able to provide the following service to mankind:

Following their discovery, the mechanical engineers had some advice for coffee drinkers.

They said leaving a large gap between the coffee and the top of the drinking vessel, and walking slower, prevents spillages.

They added that watching the mug, rather than the floor, while carrying it proved to be a more effective coffee-holding method.

I suggest a follow-up study in which they explore my own hypothesis, which is that using a lid-equipped coffee cup could also induce a statistically significant decline in the rate of incidence of coffee spillage, as well as the severity of such spills as do occur. But hey, I’m not a scientist; so what do I know?

To be fair, the article I linked to didn’t give all their recommendations. Live Science has a slightly fuller account, including the following additional recommendations (along with the delightful exhultation, “But now, there’s hope” for coffee-carriers who just can’t seem to keep their shoes dry):

Third, accelerate gradually. If you take off suddenly, a huge coffee wave will build up almost instantly, and it will crash over the rim after just a few steps.

But the best way to prevent coffee spilling might be to find an unusual cup. According to [co-author Rouslan] Krechetnikov, ideas from liquid sloshing engineering studies, which historically were done to stabilize fuel tanks inside missiles, indicate three possibilities for spill-free cup designs: “a flexible container to act as a sloshing absorber in suppressing liquid oscillations, a series of annular ring baffles arranged around the inner wall of the container to achieve sloshing suppression, or a different shape cup.”

Or, you know…a cup with a lid.

HT: Dave Barry.


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