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Walking with coffee: Why does it spill?

H. C. Mayer and R. Krechetnikov
Phys. Rev. E 85, 046117 – Published 26 April 2012
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Abstract

In our busy lives, almost all of us have to walk with a cup of coffee. While often we spill the drink, this familiar phenomenon has never been explored systematically. Here we report on the results of an experimental study of the conditions under which coffee spills for various walking speeds and initial liquid levels in the cup. These observations are analyzed from the dynamical systems and fluid mechanics viewpoints as well as with the help of a model developed here. Particularities of the common cup sizes, the coffee properties, and the biomechanics of walking proved to be responsible for the spilling phenomenon. The studied problem represents an example of the interplay between the complex motion of a cup, due to the biomechanics of a walking individual, and the low-viscosity-liquid dynamics in it.

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  • Received 23 December 2011

DOI:https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevE.85.046117

©2012 American Physical Society

Synopsis

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Science of Slosh

Published 26 April 2012

An image analysis program reveals the biomechanics of walking with coffee.

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Authors & Affiliations

H. C. Mayer and R. Krechetnikov

  • Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA

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Issue

Vol. 85, Iss. 4 — April 2012

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Physical Review E Scope Description to Include Biological Physics
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The editors of Physical Review E are pleased to announce that the journal’s stated scope has been expanded to explicitly include the term “Biological Physics.”

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