Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Surface Tension and Maragoni Effect in your Scotch

This Christmas you may go back home and after a dinner you want a Scotch to warm the stomach a little in the cold.  You finish your Scotch and you look down into your glass to observe little patterns.  Did someone spike the turkey?  Probably not.  You are witnessing art from the physical world.  You are witnessing the Maragoni effect. The Maragoni effect due to the difference in surface tension between the alcohol and water. 

 Via Boing Boing explains the art in the bottom of your Scotch glass.  It is called Vanishing Spirits.  Here is a full explanation of the work.
The idea for this project occurred while putting a used Scotch glass into the dishwasher. I noted a film on the bottom of a glass and when I inspected closer, I noted these fine, lacey lines filling the bottom. What I found through some experimentation is that these patterns and images that can be seen are created with the small amount of Single-Malt Scotch left in a glass after most of it has been consumed. It only takes a very thin layer of Scotch to create; the alcohol dries and leaves the sediment in various patterns. It’s a little like snowflakes in that every time the Scotch dries, the glass yields different patterns and results. I have used different colored lights to add 'life' to the bottom of the glass, creating the illusion of landscape, terrestrial or extraterrestrial.
Interestingly, there was a recent article that was published in the Journal of Nature (I think) by Dr. Peter Yunker on the Suppression of the Coffee-Ring Effect by Shape-Dependent Capillary Interactions i.e. how are coffee rings made. I contacted him to see if he could see any obvious connection between the two liquids and the rings / patterns they create. He got back to me and unfortunately could not explain what was happening with the Scotch.