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NASA Space Science

The Physics of Zero-G Whipped Cream 80

SpaceAdmiral writes "An experiment on the Space Shuttle Columbia has been analyzing your ice cream sundae. Or, rather, it looked at the phenomenon of 'shear thinning,' which explains why whipped cream comes out of the can like a liquid, but sits atop your sundae like a solid. The experiment actually involved shear thinning of xenon, a substance used in ion rocket engines, but whipped cream tastes better." I'm not sure it was cost effective to fly Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass into low earth orbit either, but hey, it's NASA — who am I to judge?
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The Physics of Zero-G Whipped Cream

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  • Troll (Score:4, Interesting)

    by T-Bone-T ( 1048702 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @09:30AM (#23206884)
    Just because the effect can be seen in food doesn't mean it shouldn't be studied.
  • by Siridar ( 85255 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @11:12AM (#23207300)
    Oh, that's already been done. Almost 10 years ago now: []

    For those of you too lazy to click on the link - its a porn film from a company called Private. Set during a space program, it was notable for the time for featuring a zero-G uh, "explosion" from one of the male characters. From memory, the production company booked the "vomit comet" - [] the article I read about the subject described "...cast and crew scrambling out of the way of the gently floating blobs..." - A visual that has stuck with me (no pun intended) ever since I read it...
  • Re:Troll (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @11:33AM (#23207384) Journal
    I guess my question is why this cannot be studied on a vomit comet instead of waiting very precious resources on a space shuttle.
  • Re:Am I the only one (Score:3, Interesting)

    by multisync ( 218450 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @12:36PM (#23207620) Journal
    It is a little odd, but it's actually the experiment that is being referred to (unless they've changed it since you wrote that).

    Speaking of the Columbia, I found this quite interesting:

    Most of the data from the experiment, called Critical Viscosity of Xenon-2 (CVX-2), was beamed down to scientists on the ground before the shuttle's destruction during reentry into Earth's atmosphere. Remarkably, the hard drive from the experiment survived the disaster and was found amid the wreckage, and technicians were able to recover the rest of the data.

    It doesn't make me feel any better about the loss of Columbia but at least their work survived as a legacy.
  • Re:a long time ago (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Demolition ( 713476 ) on Saturday April 26, 2008 @04:40PM (#23208812)
    Well, that brings back a memory.

    Whipped Cream was one of the first albums I remember my Dad playing when I was a kid. He gave me his old bongo set (yes, bongos... this was the '60s, after all) and I'd play along with drums on the more upbeat tunes like "Peanuts".

    Back on topic... There could be lots of uses for this new info about shear-thinning. The article mentions improved motor oils and better liquid plastics. I've read that this research could apply to better wall adherence for paints, and other applications in the food industry (not just for whipped cream).

    It's good to see something immediately applicable come out of space-based experiments. It helps to legitimize (in the public's mind) the funding that is given to NASA.

This restaurant was advertising breakfast any time. So I ordered french toast in the renaissance. - Steven Wright, comedian