Champagne bubbles tend to rise in a straight line because of the presence of surfactants, soap-like compounds that help reduce the tension between the liquid and the gas bubbles, but also because of the size of the bubbles themselves.
This was revealed in a study, published in the journal Physical Review Fluids, conducted by scientists at Brown University and the University of Toulouse. The team, led by Roberto Zenit, performed a series of experiments to describe the movement of the characteristic bubbles within Champagne drinks, which, unlike other carbonated beverages, tend to rise toward the surface following a straight line.
The research team poured glasses of carbonated beverages such as sparkling water, beer and Champagne. The liquids were poured into rectangular plexiglass containers equipped with a needle at the bottom that could create different types of bubble chains.
The researchers gradually added surfactants and increased the size of the bubbles to understand which factors most influenced the movement of the bubbles. According to the investigation, larger bubbles tended to be more stable even in the absence of surfactants. For the same size, moreover, the addition of surfactants could straighten the bubble flow. The results could have important implications for understanding bubble flows in the field of fluid mechanics.
“We chose such an everyday topic to bring ordinary people closer to fluid mechanics,” claims Zenit, “Most people have never seen an ocean filtration or aeration tank, but almost everyone has had a beer or a glass of Champagne. The characteristic bubbles can significantly affect the experience of enjoying a beverage, but the dynamics of movement of these gases change depending on the ingredients present.