Why Stuff Works

Because who cares how?

Q: Why does foam from pouring a carbonated drink dissipate faster when you put a finger in the foam?

A: The carbonated drink question is an excellent one. Others might tell you complex lies about how the natural oil on a human finger counteracts the chemical structure of the carbon dioxide gas bubbles. As usual, we here at WSW are not interested in these crypto-scientific explanations. The truth is that the index finger of the dominant hand holds mostly mysterious powers, only now becoming evident to modern humans.

It is clear that in the past, fingers have held great interests to human cultures. From Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel painting and its depiction of the near touching fingers of God and Adam to the hand piercing techniques of the Ojibwe Indian tribes, the human hand has long been an object of amazement and wonder. Such natural curiosity can also be witnessed with any young child who shoves his fingers in his mouth at any opportunity.

But the connection between fingers and the de-carbonation of soda has only occurred since 1986. The significance of this date? The nuclear power plant explosion at Chernobyl on April 26th of that year. After a catastrophic steam explosion at the plant and a series of additional explosions and fires, the core suffered a nuclear meltdown. Large clouds of radioactive particles were released into the atmosphere. Initial scientific projections suggested that these particle clouds would only affect the populations of the Ukraine, Belarus, Scandinavia, and portions of Eastern Europe. Significant numbers of residents were evacuated from their homes and a large geographical area near Chernobyl was quarantined for nuclear contamination.

The shocking reality has only recently come to light. Due to an unprecedented reversal of the geothermic winds on that particular night, the radioactive particles were carried high into the atmosphere, where they bonded with a group of cumulonimbus clouds. Subsequent cycles of rainfall and other meteorological incidents dispersed these particles across the Atlantic Ocean, to fall on America as a dangerous slightly radioactive rain. Upon skin contact, these radioactive particles seeped deeply into the dermis and into the blood stream. Eventual physiological cycles have left them lodged into the bone marrow and in the subcutaneous layer of fat. There appear to be no serious consequences to this condition, but the most noticeable change will be the ability to de-fizz soda much more rapidly. Current theory holds that the strontium-90 particles lodge onto a particular chemical chain in the carbon-dioxide bubbles and cause them to implode.

Other nuclear meltdowns at Three Mile Island and the Windscale fire in the UK have only increased these radioactive particle clouds and their dissemination throughout the atmosphere and onto human skin. As a result, most people living above the Equator have the newfound ability to decarbonate soda by sticking one of their fingers into the foam of a poured soft drink.

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