The physics of saltwater taffy

Salt water taffy with a U.S. quarter for scale

Enlarge / Saltwater taffy is made by stretching and pulling the sticky sweet base to create air bubbles for a fluffy and chewy confection. (credit score: Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0)

When San To Chan efficiently defended their PhD thesis, they acquired a present of saltwater taffy to have fun and could not assist being intrigued by the taffy’s uncommon consistency: someplace between a strong and liquid. That led to experiments investigating the taffy’s rheology—the way it deforms in response to utilized forces—and the way the components and taffy-making course of contribute to that rheology. The outcomes are described in a brand new paper revealed within the journal Physics of Fluids.

“Taffy is a viscoelastic materials—it has properties between a viscous liquid and an elastic strong,” mentioned Chan, now a postdoc within the Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT Media Lab. “Evaluating the deformation conduct of business taffy to these of various lab-made sugar syrups and lab-made taffies allowed us to establish an important taffy ingredient (and materials construction) that governs taffy rheology.”

It is simply the newest instance of a burgeoning space of analysis specializing in the science of meals—one thing that is incessantly on the menu right here at Ars. As an illustration, in 2020, physicists examined the physics of wok-tossed fried rice and located that the key to an ideal dish (i.e., properly browned however not burnt) was a well timed mixture of side-to-side and see-sawing motions whereas cooking. In 2022, MIT physicists coined the time period “oreology” for his or her research of why—when twisting two Oreo cookie halves aside—the creme filling usually sticks to just one chocolate wafer.

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