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How many bubbles are in your glass of bubbly?

Seriously, Science?By Seriously ScienceJanuary 13, 2015 5:00 PM


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Image: Flickr/Andrea Parrish - GeyerNothing says "celebration" like a glass of sparkling wine. But how many bubbles are actually in that glass of bubbly? It turns out that answering this question requires more math than just tackling the dizzying task of counting moving air pockets. That's because the number of bubbles that actually get formed in a particular serving depends on the imperfections in the glass and particles in the wine, which serve as sites for the bubbles to form. So, to to answer this question, it's more helpful to focus on generalizable properties, like the amount of dissolved carbon dioxide gas in the wine that can potentially become fizz. These physical chemists set out to do just that, and in the process they developed a mathematical model of a glass of sparkling wine. The result? Apparently, each glass of bubbly (including those they presumably drank upon the news that their paper was accepted for publication) contains about a million bubbles. Hurray!How many bubbles in your glass of bubbly? "The issue about how many carbon dioxide bubbles are likely to nucleate in a glass of champagne (or bubbly) is of concern for sommeliers, wine journalists, experienced tasters, and any open minded physical chemist wondering about complex phenomena at play in a glass of bubbly. The whole number of bubbles likely to form in a single glass is the result of the fine interplay between dissolved CO2, tiny gas pockets trapped within particles acting as bubble nucleation sites, and ascending bubble dynamics. Based on theoretical models combining ascending bubble dynamics and mass transfer equations, the falsely naı̈ve question of how many bubbles are likely to form per glass is discussed in the present work. A theoretical relationship is derived, which provides the whole number of bubbles likely to form per glass, depending on various parameters of both the wine and the glass itself." Related content: NCBI ROFL: Beer gushing: a global threat. NCBI ROFL: Manipulation of fractured nose using mallet and champagne cork. NCBI ROFL: Tiny bubbles, in the wine; Make me happy, make me feel fine! (And increase gaseous CO(2) and ethanol in the headspace).

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