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Mathematicians and Guinness

From the Economist (the qualified one):

…representatives of Diageo, which owns Guinness, one of the most widely sold brands of stout, approached Dr Lee in 2009. They wondered if he might be able to construct a mathematical model of the formation and growth of bubbles in stout.

The problem, as far as stouts are concerned, is that the low concentration of dissolved nitrogen means the process works at only a 15th of the rate seen in ales and lagers. But Dr Lee has an answer to that: more cellulose. He and his team spiked their beer with extra fibres from a cut-up coffee filter and watched the bubbles form under a microscope. By crunching the numbers from these observations, they calculate that lining a can of stout with nine square centimetres of fibres should form a head as good as that produced by a widget.

Will this lead to cheaper takeout Guinness?  I doubt it. But, a boy can dream.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Dr. Lee.


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