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April 25, 2006

We’re often told that water and oil don’t mix. But many everyday products, from printing ink to salad dressing, are attempts to do just that.


Mixing things that don’t mix. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

It takes a whole lot of computing power to understand mayonnaise. This according to computational scientist Simon de Leew, of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. He and his colleagues are studying mixtures called emulsions.

SIMON DE LEEW (Delft University of Technology):
An emulsion is a mixture of two fluids in which one fluid is dispersed in another in the form of very small droplets.

The behavior of those little drops is very hard to predict. But now, using powerful supercomputers and massive parallel processors, De Leew and his colleagues have developed a reliable mathematical model, which could be useful in industries ranging from ink manufacturing to crude oil extraction. One can only imagine the advances in sad dressing. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.