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Fizzy drinks in zero gravity

  1. Feb 9, 2010 #1
    We got to wondering the other night over some beers.... What happens to the bubbles in a fizzy drink eg Coke inside the zero G conditions of a space station, pressurised to standard atmospheric pressure. We figured that on earth the density differential in the liquid caused by gravity gave direction to the bubbles (upwards) and this would be absent in zero G, so maybe the bubbles go everywhere. Would surface tension affect globule formation whilst the bubbles carry on popping? On earth do the bubbles need imperfections in the side of the container to initiate their formation (again absent in Zero G if the liquid is suspended in space)?
    Our best guess seems to be that on opening the can most of the contents sprays out broadly in one direction over the place and tries to form globules during its flight path to the other side of the cabin. Small globules, formed by surface tension trying to form a sphere, would be fizzing in some way with the bubbles appearing to randomly appear within the liquid and travelling randomly towards the surface of he globule, possibly colliding with other bubbles, and on reaching the surface to then pop and spit smaller fizz globules off in a sort of spherical rain all over the place..... did we get this right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2010 #2

    Andy Resnick

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    Don Pettit did this, for your viewing pleasure:

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  4. Feb 9, 2010 #3
    Well well well. Thanks so much for that. This problem has baffled me for years and I note even Don Petit was not sure what to expect!

    Although the Alka Seltza provides a launch platform for the bubbles I don't suppose the outcome would be so very different from a fizzy drink where presumably the entire liquid globule volume is capable of bubble formation. Fascinating.

    Thanks again, I'm definitely one giant leap closer to understanding this one.
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