• Slurpy Bath Tea

    August 4th, 2011ImogenUncategorized

    This week’s science question comes from my dear mama. She asks “Why do I dribble when I sip my champagne in the bath?”.

    Just for clarification, the champagne is wishful thinking and my mum is much more likely to be drinking tea. Either way, why is it that one who knows much better can’t help getting tannins in her bathwater?

    The answer is surface tension. Alike molecules­­ attract and hold on to each other via cohesion. H20 is a polar molecule, so it has both a positive and negative end which means that one H20 can turn around and attract another. Water molecules form a linked surface layer which tries to resist attempts at breaking it. You can see this in drops of water clinging together on a hard surface, or that well known systematic error-source, the meniscus (for future reference, one must always measure from the bottom of the meniscus). Rivulets of water running down your window follow the path of least resistance, and this means the path that is already wet. Drinking when your face is wet elicits the same effect: water does not retain its surface tension and flow exactly where it is directed, but follows the path which has already been laid by your bubbly beard experiments.Minimise those errors!

    The solution I would suggest to my mum as she gets tipsy on her PG is either 1) dry thine face or 2) use a straw. Anything else is likely to result in a tragic loss of beverage.


    Is there a scientific issue you’re curious about? Is there something you wish you could hear explained simply? If so, drop me a line at [email protected], on twitter via @imogenhouse or using the contact form, and I’ll break it down for you so you need never lack the answer again.

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