by Joseph Weisenthal

Does Cappuccino Foam Rise At Zero Gravity?

from the we'll-find-out dept

In recent years, there's been increased talk about the role of private companies in the space industry. Typically, the discussion has to do with the potential for for-profit space tourism, or something similar. But at a recent conference, there was talk about the expanding role for private companies to play. Already, Google has a relationship with NASA. The idea was also thrown out there that at some point, a company like Starbucks might set up shop in space, so that semi-permanent residents could still get their fix. It might sound like a joke, or something from a bad sci-fi movie, but there's a serious aspect of it. In the future, a diverse range of private sector companies will have to have a role for outer space to truly become an industry. Of course, Starbucks has no need to exit the orbit just yet; the company says it can double its existing number of US locations. And you thought there was already a Starbucks everywhere.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Matt Bennett, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 10:21am

    America runs on Dunkin.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 10:38am

    So in a few years...

    we will be debating the topic of space spam...oh shit there goes the planet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    dorpus, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 10:48am

    Hazelnut Creamers

    Man, I miss the gas stations of the Midwest, which was like a poor man's Starbucks. They'd have 3 or 4 pots of fresh coffee going, and dozens of flavored creamers to choose from. That technology seems much more portable to me? It's designed for people who ride vehicles.

    They're not into that in the Deep South -- people here just like their fresh-brewed iced teas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Sam, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 10:54am

    I hope they burn themselves on coffee floating around in zero gravity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    v3rd1g0, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 11:17am

    As a starbucks employee this actually interests me. The way we make drinks would probably be changed in space.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    jsnbase, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 11:26am

    O rly?

    The way we make drinks would probably be changed in space.

    You think?

    They'll have no problems; Starbucks isn't bound by pesky irritants like the laws of space and time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Trikein, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 11:29am

    Considering a starbucks Coffee can be made better, faster, a HELL of alot cheaper and 24/7 by a machine, I don't any employees will be invited. I think true space tourism is atleast 50 years away, but even then I would think the majority of the cost would up front infrastructure, cost of life support and cost of fuel to achieve orbit. Since robotics would neglect one of those and vastly decrease another, I think the majority of people up there will be for pleasure, not buisness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Dam, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 11:46am

    Coffee in Space?

    Won't that make you have to pee in your suit?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Geof, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 12:00pm

    what's the answer?

    Okay the headline grabbed me....does the foam rise in zero gravity? Otherwise....well that's called prgress folks!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Canadian, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 12:10pm


    And Canada runs on Timmy's

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Brian, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 12:32pm

    Forget the coffee give me a beer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 12:39pm


    I'm not sure you've really been paying attention to developments across the industry Trikein or you'd know better that "50 years" is quuiittee a bit off. Maybe, probably, for true tourism, like the average joe saying "Well Disney or Space Station 13", but profitable business involving manufacturing, R&D and mining (probably mining first) will probably be proceeding in a large scale way within a decade. There's several governments, and companies, just drooling at the opportunity to start pillaging the Moon, and work is proceeding on modified Soyuz capsules with larger windows specifically for the viewing pleasure of any passengers. Considering the number of millionaires, much less even billionaires, walking the Earth today there is PLENTY of opportunity for 'conspicuous consumption' to absorb all the high early-adopter expenses, ushering in lower costs for the rest of us when companies like LiftPort and low-cost launch vehicle manufacturers start really slashing costs to get to orbit and beyond.

    In 50 years, assuming you're a professional of some kind receiving pay worthy of a professional, and assuming you're still alive, no reason you couldn't be sitting on the Moon having your Starbucks, staring up at the Earth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    bob, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 12:48pm

    Does Cappuccino Foam Rise At Zero Gravity?

    I'd be more inclined to ponder how they're going to keep the LIQUID in the cup at zero gravity.
    from the "ouch-that's-hot" department

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 1:09pm

    well, as long as the coffee isn't violently disturbed, it will stay as one coffee ball. it only "splatters" when enough force is applied to break the surface tension. the same science that keeps that last drop of milk on your breakfast spoon, is what is holding the coffee together.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    C8H10N4O2, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 1:24pm

    Re: Hazelnut Creamers


    We do like our sweet tea, but you can get your coffee fix as you described at either the QT or BP gas stations...

    Y'all come back now, ya hear?!?!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 1:36pm

    wow, i thought dorpus was banned? or haven't i been around for some time?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Jon, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 1:43pm

    By the time we actually do get industry into space, hopefully our stations will be more along the lines of Deep Space 9, Star Trek stuff.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 1:53pm

    Pesky trees.

    see... this is like the tree falling in the woods and making a sound. it all comes down to the defintion of the terms. sound in the case of the tree and rise in this case. the idea of something rising comes from your frame of reference and since we're accustomed to the ideas of rising and falling in relation to the earth, rising to us implies that it is working against the general pull of gravity. no gravity equals no rise. there are a lot of arguments you could form against that statement but it is still a good general rule as gravity unarguably is the main factor in our conception of rising and falling.

    would the cappuccino still foam? yes, foam is caused by a gas within the liquid in which the gas is less dense than the liquid, the foamy stuff is gas that doesn't have enough force to break the surface tension of the liquid. the reason the foam is on top here on earth is due to the gravitational effect of the earth on the liquid and the foam, there is more pull on the liquid than the gas. in zero gravity (and where does zero gravity exist, outside of using acceleration to produce a zero gravity effect, exactly?) you would have the liquid at the center of the blob surrounded by the foam. from the perspective of the liquid the foam would be rising, but from the perspective of yourself you couldn't say that the foam was just rising.

    of course, zero gravity isn't tangible. all matter attracts all other matter. this is gravity. if you have liquid you have matter therefore you have gravity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Jo Mamma, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 2:52pm

    It won't happen until we get property rights...

    No kind of real space development will occur until we have property rights on the Moon, Mars, asteroids, etc.

    My contention is that the only thing that will actually drive true colonization is money (at least initially). This is not unprecedented… after all, this is how the Americas were colonized. When people can make money by going into space, they will. Mining will probably be the first activity that can make money without too much stretch on the imagination. It’s also got a pretty easily definable ROI.

    But who's going to spend billions and billions of dollars to develop a mine when someone can just plop down next to you in 'X' number of years and mine your ore?

    "Outer Space" property rights are a fascinating subject... and I don't know if anyone (like the UN) has done anything on this. I remember someone was selling land on the moon a few decades back – but I think this was pretty much a scam.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    arty, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 3:34pm

    Seems you're confusing the warm flavoured milk froth Starbucks sells with actual coffee!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Grandfather Time, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 3:37pm


    And how much did they spend figuring this useless tidbit of information out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Jonathan, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 3:56pm

    Pillage the moon

    50-odd years ago, Robert Heinlein wrote a sci-fi short story called The Man Who Sold The Moon. Picture a pyrotechnic device to spread lampblack across the face of the moon to create a 7-Up logo... or would Coca-Cola pay more for the rights?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    icepick314, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 4:19pm

    Space-only coupon?

    now they can send out coupons on e-mail...

    all they have to add is Orbital Starbucks Only...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    lol, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 5:09pm

    RE pillage moon

    jon. theres a funny joke, takes place during cold war. so pres is notified that russians landed on moon. 1h later says 18th of moon is redd .the president says tell me when its ompletely red. hours pass.... they come in and say it completly red sir. so he says send our space ship and write coca cola in white!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Stu, Sep 22nd, 2006 @ 3:16pm

    Starbucks rant

    Starbucks Can Kiss My Ass
    Whenever I go in there to buy a simple cup of coffee, they expect me to participate in the Starbucks Experience. And if I order my coffee wrong, I get corrected by some minimum-wage-twit who couldnt articulate their way home. They dont sell their coffees in Small, Medium or Large. NOOOOO! They have some pretentious bullshit names like Tall (which is small), Grande and Venti. WTF? Venti is not even a word it is a Starbucks word look closely at the menu, they have the word Venti trademarked! They made up the f----ng word! And then they train their staff to not respond to normal words like, I would like a small cup of coffee. They ask me, You mean a Tall? Let me see Im looking at three cups: a short one, a medium one and a tall one. I dont want the tall one, I didn't bring that much money I want the short f---er! Read my f----ng lips: IT IS NOT TALL, IT IS SHORT! Goddamn no wonder the poor bastards who work at Starbucks are dyslexic. I can see it now guys, lets use the Starbucks method for sizing up our c----s. Here, some poor guy has the shortest one, but we will call it the Long C---k. Then someone with a medium-sized c---k is now Mondo and the guy with the big honker gets to call it Bando. That's right - Bando. I made up that word and you have to use it or I will ignore you. And every woman/man can take pleasure in knowing that her/his man is at least Long. And what is with these other Starbucks code words, like With Room or Extra Shot? How f----ng pretentious is that? I even notice Starbucks Snobs in line practicing their order so they can whiz through all the special vernacular so, are you ready for this, they can ORDER A CUP OF COFFEE. I would go on, but I am getting hungry. Im heading over to Geno's to get a cheese steak wit. Later.
    I wish I'd written that - grabbed it from craigslist

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Trey, Apr 26th, 2007 @ 12:46am

    Re: Pesky trees.

    Come now PhysicGuy, surly you must know that strong force greatly "out weighs" the effect of gravity on the quantum level. If not, Im not sure the universe would exsist. Probably still be what it was before the Big bang. But thats a grand argument to be had. Ofcourse the real question is what the enviroment would be like. We talking 1 atmo? Oxygen rich? That would effect the formation of bubbles more. As for the foam, yes it would form, just probably take alot longe. This could be helped by having it in a vacuum prior to serving.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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