Exploring the physics of a chocolate fountain

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Credit: Adam Townsend/Helen Wilson

Credit: Adam Townsend/Helen Wilson

A mathematics student has worked out the secrets of how chocolate behaves in a chocolate fountain, answering the age-old question of why the falling ‘curtain’ of chocolate surprisingly pulls inwards rather than going straight downwards.

Published Nov. 25 2015 in European Journal of Physics, Adam Townsend solved the conundrum of the converging curtain by looking at some classic work on ‘water bells’.

The physics of the water bell is exactly the same as the falling curtain of chocolate; and the reason the chocolate falls inwards turns out to be primarily surface tension. They also looked at the flow up the pipe to the top of the fountain, and the flow over the plastic tiers that form the distinctive chocolate fountain shape.

“It’s serious maths applied to a fun problem.” continues Adam Townsend. “I’ve been talking about it at mathematics enrichment events around London for the last few years. If I can convince just one person that maths is more than Pythagoras’ Theorem, I’ll have succeeded. Of course, the same mathematics has a wide use in many other important industries — but none of them are quite as tasty as chocolate.”Townsend is now finishing a PhD investigating suspensions of solid particles in fluids, supervised by Wilson in the Department of Mathematics at University College London.

 

SOURCE:

Institute of Physics. (2015, November 25). Exploring the physics of a chocolate fountain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151124204322.htm

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