What Happens When You Pop Champagne, According to Science

Since the Renaissance, when Europeans invented champagne, it has always been accompanied by the “pop!”, that characteristic pop that occurs when you remove the cork from the bottle. For many people, part of the joy of opening a bottle of this drink is exactly in this process, that is, in the tension of removing the wire, the bursting of the cork and the long-awaited effervescent fountain that follows.

But beyond all the joy generated by the situation above, something much more surprising happens in the milliseconds it takes to pop a bottle of champagne: the bottle in our hands becomes a supersonic minigun. What makes the champagne pop? Some scientific reasons are behind the process that makes the cork fly away when we open a champagne. When this drink is bottled it contains a lot of dissolved carbon dioxide.

This gas, in this situation, generates several internal pressures that fluctuate according to the temperature of the place where the drink is stored. When champagne is at rest, the pressure of carbon dioxide inside the bottle is no greater than the friction force between the cork and the bottle, as well as any wire mesh that holds the cork together. Therefore, it does not burst on its own. But the situation is quite different when we shake the bottle…

Champagne, explosions and rockets In a study recently published in the journal Physics of Fluid Dynamics, a group of engineers from India and France managed to understand how gas flows and how the shock waves generated once the champagne is opened behave. They ended up discovering that the bubbly has a ballistic power that can even be dangerous depending on where the cork is pointed.

As soon as the piece of cork is removed from the mouth of the bottle, the gas stream explodes at high speeds at the top of the neck. Then the pressure and gas dissipate, something that happens in corona-shaped shock waves, or shock diamonds, similar to the patterns that form when missiles, rockets or jets are being launched.

They ended up discovering that the bubbly has a ballistic power that can even be dangerous depending on where the cork is pointed. As soon as the piece of cork is removed from the mouth of the bottle, the gas stream explodes at high speeds at the top of the neck. Then the pressure and gas dissipate, something that happens in corona-shaped shock waves, or shock diamonds, similar to the patterns that form when missiles, rockets or jets are being launched.

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