The Science Behind Foam You Can Eat

Illustration for article titled The Science Behind Foam You Can Eat

Edible foam. At this point, we're weeks away from Guy Fieri introducing a Jack Daniels-infused foam atop deep-fried pork belly at TGI Friday's across the nation. Cliche foodie trope, but the science behind foam is still remarkably fresh.


While foam, whether its the frothed milk in a cappuccino or a bubbly "potatoes" on a slab of meat seems like an uncoordinated mass, structurally, foams follow a set of three rules discovered way back in 1873 by physicist Joseph Plateau: Three film surfaces intersect at the edges where bubbles connect; pairs of intersecting films form angles of 120 degrees; and "wherever edges meet at a point, the edges always number exactly four, and the angle is always the inverse cosine of –1/3 (about 109.5 degrees)."

It's the bubbles that violate Plateau's rules that explode firstest.

Physicists and scientists are still trying to unlock the mysteries of foam, like what kind of bubble architecture will fill up a space using least amount of surface area possible. Just remember that there really is something more to foam, even if we're one day fated to see "parmesan cheese foam" atop a Domino's pizza. Check out more here: [Scientific American via The Awl, Image: CC licensed from evilhayama/Flickr]


The thought of foamy food that isn't sweet kind of makes me feel ill. Foamy candy, yes. Foamy meat & potatoes, no.