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The Physics of Zero-G Whipped Cream

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the government-spending-at-work dept.

NASA 80

SpaceAdmiral writes "An experiment on the Space Shuttle Columbia has been analyzing your ice cream sundae. Or, rather, it looked at the phenomenon of 'shear thinning,' which explains why whipped cream comes out of the can like a liquid, but sits atop your sundae like a solid. The experiment actually involved shear thinning of xenon, a substance used in ion rocket engines, but whipped cream tastes better." I'm not sure it was cost effective to fly Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass into low earth orbit either, but hey, it's NASA — who am I to judge?

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80 comments

Coming soon... (5, Funny)

carlvlad (942493) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206818)

2 astronauts, 1 cup...

Re:Coming soon... (2)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206858)

Ah yes, the critical point at which the material is considered both a liquid and a gas...

Horrible how that can remain close to on topic heh.

Re:Coming soon... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207214)

That's not whip cream... can anyone say "anal bukakke"? Lovely image in your mind isn't it? The white fluffy cream... mmm.

Too low brow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23210690)

Space hookers aka PROSTINAUGHTS is where this research should lead to.

There's an interesting summary (-1, Offtopic)

Jack B. Nimple (1275372) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206860)

For those that can't be bothered to RTFA, there's an article with video [notlong.com] from a guy making ice cream in a centrifuge.

Re:There's an interesting summary (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23206880)

Mod down parent. Dodgy link, click at your own peril.

Re:There's an interesting summary (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23206886)

Well, let me just have a little bit of peril?

Re:There's an interesting summary (0, Offtopic)

Phroggy (441) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207244)

LAUNCELOT: No, it's unhealthy.
GALAHAD: Bet you're gay!
LAUNCELOT: No, I'm not.
NARRATOR: Sir Launcelot had saved Sir Galahad from almost certain temptation, but they were still no nearer the Grail. Meanwhile, King Arthur and Sir Bedemir, not more than a swallow's flight away, had discovered something. Oh, that's an unladen swallow's flight, obviously. I mean, they were more than two laden swallow's flights away -- four, really, if they hadn't a cord of line between them. I mean, if the birds were walking and dragging--
CROWD: Get on with it!

Re:There's an interesting summary (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207020)

Notice the poster's name. It's the usual NIMP / Lemonparty / multiple pop-up / dancing windows attack. It may spawn other programs or install malware, but I'm not running Windows so I can't tell.

a long time ago (3, Funny)

wingome (794168) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206870)

Herb Alpert - Whipped Cream - someone is showing their age. Me too I guess.

Re:a long time ago (4, Funny)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206940)

And for the next experiment....Love Potion #9.

For sale now on pay per view and direct to home dvd.

Re:a long time ago (2)

wass (72082) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206966)

Good thing they had the wisdom not to go with their original album title "Sheer Thinning and Other Delights". I think it was Zorba the Geek that gave them that advice.

Re:a long time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207286)

Be back in a jiff just gone down to the cellar to dig out the album.

Re:a long time ago (2, Funny)

shark72 (702619) | more than 5 years ago | (#23208402)

Yup. My guess is that for most readers, it's not just the space shuttle that's whooshing way overhead.

Re:a long time ago (2, Interesting)

Demolition (713476) | more than 5 years ago | (#23208812)

Well, that brings back a memory.

Whipped Cream was one of the first albums I remember my Dad playing when I was a kid. He gave me his old bongo set (yes, bongos... this was the '60s, after all) and I'd play along with drums on the more upbeat tunes like "Peanuts".

Back on topic... There could be lots of uses for this new info about shear-thinning. The article mentions improved motor oils and better liquid plastics. I've read that this research could apply to better wall adherence for paints, and other applications in the food industry (not just for whipped cream).

It's good to see something immediately applicable come out of space-based experiments. It helps to legitimize (in the public's mind) the funding that is given to NASA.

Re:a long time ago (1)

ashitaka (27544) | more than 5 years ago | (#23211894)

C'mon, *everyone's* dad had that album. Mine included. He was actually a Herb Alpert fan so the album cover was just icing on the cake.

So to speak.

Re:a long time ago (1)

Demolition (713476) | more than 5 years ago | (#23218502)

Yeah, my Dad was a big Herb Alpert fan back then. Still is. He asked me to transfer all of his LPs to cassettes so that he could listen to them anywhere in the house or in the car. I suggested that he just buy them on CD, for the convenience factor plus the higher fidelity. He looked at me like I'd sprouted another head.

You can't change some people, and no use trying to bring them into the modern day. So, I did as he asked. Now, every time I go to my parents' house, he's playing those Herb Alpert cassettes. It's like stepping into a time warp. :-D

Troll (3, Interesting)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206884)

Just because the effect can be seen in food doesn't mean it shouldn't be studied.

Re:Troll (2, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207384)

I guess my question is why this cannot be studied on a vomit comet instead of waiting very precious resources on a space shuttle.

Re:Troll (3, Informative)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207646)

By measuring how strongly the fluid resisted the movement of this paddle, the experiment could determine the xenon's thickness. CVX-2 searched for changes in this thickness as it slowly changed the speed of the stirring and the temperature of the fluid.

My guess is that they needed to keep constant freefall for more than just a minute or so at a time.

Re:Troll (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#23209394)

I suppose, if we were rational about it, we'd have developed a second generation reusable launch vehicle in the wake of the Challenger accident in 1986 and discontinued the Shuttle sometime in the early 90's.

You know... (3, Insightful)

InMSWeAntitrust (994158) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206898)

...with only a fraction of a percent of the national budget NASA is making groundbreaking (not being sarcastic) research; Imagine the leaps and bounds they would make with late 1960's percentages. I personally can't wait to see some of the applications of the research still being done at the fund-starved NASA.

Re:You know... (2, Funny)

crispin_bollocks (1144567) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207066)

NASA obviously needs a Czar, and a War on Space

Re:You know... (2, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#23208008)

Well, that's exactly what happened in the 60s. They had this big space race with Russia, and had to prove they were better than the "commies". This means they got well funded, and the people working for NASA had a lot of motivation to do a good job. Currently there is no real incentive for NASA to show anyone else up. In 1961, just a few months after the first human was put in space (by the commies) Kennedy said they would have a man on the moon, and return him safely by the end of the decade. And they did it. Now they are talking about maybe sending someone to the moon again in 2018. Which is further off than Kennedy's original timeline, and probably less believable. It almost seems as though spaceflight has taken a step back since the 60s. If 1/2 the budget of the Iraq war was spent on space, we'd be on Mars by now.

Re:You know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23213292)

If 1/2 the budget of the Iraq war was spent on space, we'd be on Mars by now.
Yes, but they won't get oil from Mars.

objectivity please (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23206900)

> The experiment actually involved shear thinning of xenon, a substance used in ion rocket engines, but whipped cream tastes better.

let's stay objective and keep personal opinions out of this

Re:objectivity please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207916)

I find it difficult to form and opinion as I have never had the opportunity to taste an ion rocket engine. I know better than to lick the filter on my Ionic Breeze.

NASA in Association with Vivid Entertainment (1)

Chineseyes (691744) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206912)

........Bring you Neil Armstrong's Whipped Creamed Wives.

Re:NASA in Association with Vivid Entertainment (1)

irtza (893217) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207294)

what maybe scarier is Space CowboyNeal... can't even bring myself to finish the thought.

Re:NASA in Association with Vivid Entertainment (2, Interesting)

Siridar (85255) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207300)

Oh, that's already been done. Almost 10 years ago now:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0310288/ [imdb.com]

For those of you too lazy to click on the link - its a porn film from a company called Private. Set during a space program, it was notable for the time for featuring a zero-G uh, "explosion" from one of the male characters. From memory, the production company booked the "vomit comet" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vomit_Comet [wikipedia.org] the article I read about the subject described "...cast and crew scrambling out of the way of the gently floating blobs..." - A visual that has stuck with me (no pun intended) ever since I read it...

Ice Cream Sundae?! (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206916)

An experiment on the Space Shuttle Columbia has been analyzing your ice cream sundae.
I'm lactose-intolerant, you insensitive clod!

Re:Ice Cream Sundae?! (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206926)

Real Ice Cream (not ice milk, or ice-milk-and-cream) has almost no lactose in it. Practically no one makes the stuff, of course. Buy an ice cream maker, and make your own. you won't save any money but the stuff will be dramatically better. It's also low-carb if you use a substitute for sugar (I like Splenda/Sucralose.)

I know you were just trying to be funny. Try harder next time :)

Re:Ice Cream Sundae?! (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#23206994)

Yes I was trying to be funny, however I really am lactose-intolerant.

Thanks for the information.

Re:Ice Cream Sundae?! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207130)

he was just being intolerant of lactose intolerance insensitivity jokes

Re:Ice Cream Sundae?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207060)

low carb

Not really. Fat is over twice the calories as sugar - removing the sugar would only reduce the calories by about 20-25%.

But fat tastes really nice, which is why the creamy stuff is better :)

Re:Ice Cream Sundae?! (3, Funny)

ip_vjl (410654) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207158)

>> low carb

Not really. Fat is over twice the calories as sugar - removing the sugar would only reduce the calories by about 20-25%.



I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Almost no lactose in cream? (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207314)

Why would there be almost no lactose in cream? There is still plenty of water in cream, which is what the lactose is dissolved in, up to 50% less than milk perhaps ... but 50% less doesn't equate to almost none IMO.

Unless you want to use sour cream in your ice cream I don't see how it could have almost no lactose.

Re:Ice Cream Sundae?! (2, Funny)

AikonMGB (1013995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207112)

An experiment on the Space Shuttle Columbia has been analyzing your ice cream sundae.
I'm lactose-intolerant, you insensitive clod!

You expect us to care about someone who is themselves admittedly intolerant of others?

Aikon-

Re:Ice Cream Sundae?! (1)

jsiren (886858) | more than 5 years ago | (#23213884)

You expect us to care about someone who is themselves admittedly intolerant of others?

So you're intolerant of intolerant lactose intolerants?

Re:lactose intolerance? (3, Funny)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207238)

so just because you suffer a reaction if you eat something, no-one else in the world is allowed to mention it? Who made you king of the internet

Re:lactose intolerance? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207354)

Geeze, you must be new here... is this the first "you insensitive clod" joke you've seen?

Re:lactose intolerance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23212592)

I am an insensitive clod, you insensitive clod!

Re:lactose intolerance? (1)

kylehase (982334) | more than 5 years ago | (#23211386)

Who made you king of the internet
Now that's a job I'd love to have! Where do I apply and how much does it pay?

Pot, meet kettle (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#23208486)

In today's world isn't being intolerant considered worse than being insensitive?

Am I the only one (1, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207104)

Who noticed the summary is discussing Space shuttle columbia [wikipedia.org] in the present tense? This seems pretty tactless

Re:Am I the only one (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207202)

How on earth (or space!) does that make it tactless??

Re:Am I the only one (2, Interesting)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207620)

It is a little odd, but it's actually the experiment that is being referred to (unless they've changed it since you wrote that).

Speaking of the Columbia, I found this quite interesting:

Most of the data from the experiment, called Critical Viscosity of Xenon-2 (CVX-2), was beamed down to scientists on the ground before the shuttle's destruction during reentry into Earth's atmosphere. Remarkably, the hard drive from the experiment survived the disaster and was found amid the wreckage, and technicians were able to recover the rest of the data.


It doesn't make me feel any better about the loss of Columbia but at least their work survived as a legacy.

Herb Alpert (1)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207166)

For those of you young 'uns missing it, the Herb Alpert reference is to the cover of the album Whipped Cream and Other Delights [wikipedia.org].

I personally prefer Clam Dip [wikipedia.org].

Re:Herb Alpert (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 5 years ago | (#23208566)

I was quite surprised and pleased to see that reference in the summary. My parents had that album (probably still do, in a box or cupboard somewhere). Some of the first records I ever played were their Herb Alpert records, along with The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" album.

Re:Herb Alpert (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 5 years ago | (#23209544)

For me, Herb Alpert's "Whipped Cream", Beatles' white album, and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here". Those were the good old days :)

Hot Fudge Sundae... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207212)

...falls on a tuesday.

Not Whipped Cream (3, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207288)

> ...whipped cream comes out of the can...

That's "dessert topping" (it may also be a floor wax). Whipped cream does not come in a can.

Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207438)

Real whipped cream takes a small investment in the equipment and about two minutes to make. And is vastly better than the sickeningly sweet, chemical-ridden crap that comes in a can.

Re:Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207854)

takes a small investment in the equipment

A bowl and a whisk? That's not even a small investment...

(or a mixer I guess)

Re:Not Whipped Cream (2, Insightful)

ix42 (222898) | more than 5 years ago | (#23208428)

"Ingredient: Cream. Propellant: Nitrogen"

You just have to be careful which can you buy.

Cans can be Real or Fake Whipped Cream (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 5 years ago | (#23220354)

Yes, there are cans of pressurized dessert topping that are more similar to floor wax than they are to whipped cream. There are other cans of whipped cream that are just fine, typically containing cream, sugar, nitrous oxide, vanilla (usually fake), and often some starches or seaweed polymers. Some are made with heavy cream, some are made with light cream and more polymers (and maybe some powdered dry milk as well.)


The real-cream ones are just fine - they're a bit lighter than the stuff I make at home with a pressure-can and whippets, and of course they're both lighter than the more traditional schlag my mom makes with a Mixmaster [wikipedia.org].


Cream from the grocery store can also be real or adulterated - if I go to Safeway, the ingredients in the "whipping cream" include the carageenan [wikipedia.org] and various glycerides and maybe some preservatives, and the "fancier" "whipping cream" also has sweetener (I forget if it's sugar or (even worse) corn syrup) and probably vanillan. If I go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, the ingredients in the "whipping cream" are "cream", and at most it's ultrapasteurized.

Hot Fudge Sundae... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207444)

...falls on a tuesday.

(if you don't know what this means, you need to see Lucifer about a hammer)

to properly study this (5, Funny)

nguy (1207026) | more than 5 years ago | (#23207566)

To properly study the physics of whipped cream in zero G, I need the Swedish woman's volleyball team as... assistants.

Your application has been accepted (4, Funny)

maroberts (15852) | more than 5 years ago | (#23208396)

...but due to a translation error, the Volleyball team was replaced by the Russian Womens weightlifting team.

Re:Your application has been accepted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23209004)

Then who gets the volleyball team? paah this is male chauvinism at it's finest. :)

Re:Your application has been accepted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23212546)

Male? Who said anything about males? Don't you think there are a lot of women who'd like to spend time in space testing whipped cream on the Swedish women's volleyball team or the Russian female olympic weight lifting team? It's an all-girls affair.

Seems to me you're the male chauvinist :-) But don't worry, you may watch.

Tenses make a difference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23207714)

You might want to say, "An experiment on the Space Shuttle Columbia analyzed" as opposed to "has been analyzing", given that Columbia, ya know, kinda exploded in the atmosphere a few years back.

Re:Tenses make a difference (1)

Phase Shifter (70817) | more than 5 years ago | (#23209096)

Or you might want to consider that the actual analysis in the experiment wasn't done until the data reached the ground, and is still ongoing...

re: H.Alpert cover (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 5 years ago | (#23209042)

1. it wasn't whipped cream, it was shaving cream, which washes off a lot more easily.

2. There were so many delays in getting that cover done, that the model got pregnant. No big deal had they simply gone and done the shoot. But by the time they took the picture she was well into her 5th or 6th month. The more you look at it, the more you'll notice it.

3. It's a fucking awesome record. For those born after 1970 or so, this is how you act like a middle class WASP of the 1960s:

Make some martinis, on a sunny sunday afternoon, turn on a golf game on the TV set, turn off the sound and stack up the Herb Alpert records on your Garrard or Dual turntable as you drink your martini. Talk about your broker, or what the neighbours have done to their backyard. Yell at the kids to get off the lawn.

RS

Wrong shuttle or wrong image name? (1)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 5 years ago | (#23328448)

If this experiment was on Columbia, why is the image called "Challenger_drive.jpg"?

Challenger was many years earlier...

Re:Wrong shuttle or wrong image name? (1)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 5 years ago | (#23328478)

Dangit, wrong story...

Note to self: Pay attention to which tab you are in when you click "reply"...
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