How is the Grand Canyon Like Mayonnaise?

April 16, 2024
Stoney's British Pub

3007 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE

John Crocker / How is the Grand Canyon Like Mayonnaise? John Crocker
University of Pennsylvania
How is the Grand Canyon Like Mayonnaise?

Mundane materials like soap suds and mayonnaise have long defied physical explanation. Their microscopic bubbles and droplets move in a complex, seemingly random manner whose physical origin remains mysterious. Work at Penn over the last several years has solved the mystery, showing that the unusual motion is driven by the foam’s energy function or landscape having an unexpectedly tortuous, even fractal structure that resembles a branching river valley like the Grand Canyon. The resulting theory has been confirmed by experiments on a synthetic ‘clear’ mayonnaise, and has implications for understanding diverse systems ranging from Artificial Intelligence to the cytoskeleton of living cells.