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Mystery of beer that bubbles and foams: Solved

- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2013

In case you were wondering why tapping on the side of a freshly opened beer bottle often sends the contents frothing like a volcano onto the floor — wonder no more. Science has found the answer.

It's called cavitation, said the leading researcher in the study, Javier Rodriguez-Rodriguez, of Carolos III University in Spain, The Daily Mail reported. That's the process by which bubbles suddenly appear in a bottle of beer that's been tapped or slightly jarred.

After the initial hit, the liquid's wave quickly causes larger bubbles to appear — and just as quickly, causes them to collapse and disappear. In beer, the larger bubbles actually fuel the creation of the smaller bubbles, and then these smaller bubbles expand to the point of creating a foamy buoyancy. Thus, the frothing and spills, the scientist said, in the paper.

"Buoyancy leads to the formation of plumes full of bubbles, whose shape resembles very much the mushrooms seen after powerful explosions," he said, The Daily Mail reported. "And here is what really makes the formation of foam so explosive: the larger the bubbles get, the faster they rise and the other way around."

That's because the faster the bubble — the more carbonic gas, he said.

The researchers — who presented their findings at the annual American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics — said they're the first to explain the bubbling phenomenon.

"We wanted to explain the extremely high efficiency of the degasification process that occurs in a beer bottle within the first few seconds after the impact," said Mr. Rodriguez-Rodriguez, in The Daily Mail.

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