Two months ago, we brought you a story about the U.S. Government spending $170,000 to figure out why coffee spills when you are walking around with it all nimbly bimbly-like, one that ended with a big, fat “I dunno.” Well, a new study has moved past asking “why” and moved on to “how,” as in, “how do we keep it from happening?” And without all that government cash, the study’s author Jiwon Han – a student at the Korean Minjok Leadership Academy, a high school in Hoengseong, South Korea – found an answer. As Munchies reports, we’ve been holding our cups wrong this whole time.
Titled “A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime,” Han’s research in the field of coffee carrying contains all sorts of science-y jargon that flies waaaaaay over my head. The paper is chock full of talk about resonance conditions, Euler–Lagrange equations, and second harmonic modes (which I thought was a musical scale). Then there are charts like this one that I can’t make heads or tails of:
And this equation:
The study shows that the normal way of holding a cup of coffee—by the handle—is not the most effective means of keeping the liquid from spilling. Instead, Han suggests a “claw-hand” method, whereby the mug is gripped via five points of contact (the fingers) around the rim, seen below.
Apparently, this result is due to the claw-hand posture having some sort of oscillating-pivot double pendulum, which is twice as many pendulums as the normal hand posture’s oscillating-pivot simple pendulum. As best I can tell anyway. And if you don’t want to look like a total weirdo holding your coffee all funny, Han’s research also shows that walking backwards also helps reduce spillage. Problem solved.
So there you have it, the claw-hand method, a simple solution backed by a lot of what looks to be science, all done by a high school kid. Take that, Department of Defense and University of California, Santa Barbara!
Zac Cadwalader is the news editor at Sprudge Media Network.