Today’s dispatch is for our Argentinian readers, who, in addition to bestowing on the world culinary delights such as asado and chimichurri, have also brought us a heaping platter of delicious food science to the table this month! It’s all thanks to a “bartender thing” Brazilian researcher Luiz Pereira observed when travelling through Buenos Aires: dropping a couple of peanuts into a glass of beer. The peanuts naturally sink, being denser than water—but then they start accumulating bubbles and float to the top of the brew. There the bubbles are loosed and they drop down again… Until more bubbles form. and pull them back up. And the cycle continues.
Fascinated scientists have now dug into what they dub the “beer-gas-peanut system,” and believe they may have cracked the party trick—with interesting real-world implications.
“They found that the larger the ‘contact angle’ between the curve of an individual bubble and the surface of the peanut was, the more likely it was to form and grow.
But it cannot grow too much—a radius of under 1.3 millimetres is ideal, the study said.
Pereira said he hoped that ‘by deeply researching this simple system, which everyone can grasp, we can understand a system’ that would be useful for industry or explaining natural phenomena.
For example, he said the floatation process was similar to the one used to separate iron from ore.
Air is injected, in a controlled way, into a mixture in which a mineral— such as iron— ‘will rise because bubbles attach themselves more easily to it, while other (minerals) sink to the bottom,’ he said.
The same process could also explain why volcanologists find that the mineral magnetite rises to higher layers in the crystallised magma of the Earth’s crust than would be expected.”
This new study shows that there’s a scientific understanding of basically everything, no matter how simple and every day. And I love how it relates the humble glass of beer to how the earth’s crust works. It really makes me feel accomplished when I enjoy a bevvie alongside my BBQ like I’m doing my bit for research! Now, I’m off to see if they same principle works for that classic Southern summer refresher Peanuts & Coke —wish me luck!