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Release date: July 3, 2000
Contact: Nancy Seideman, Director, 404-727-0640, or

Foam's Many Properties—From Cappuccino to the Cosmos—Explored in New, Witty Book by Emory Physicist

From soap bubbles to sea froth, from the head on a beer to plastic coffee cups, foam and its bubbles appear throughout our daily lives. But foam goes beyond the commonplace—it has surprisingly intricate properties that engage scientists around the world. Foam appears again and again in exotic corners of our planet and the universe, giving clues to the origin of the earth's atmosphere, describing how galaxies are distributed in space, and providing an image for the birth of the cosmos.

In a new book, "Universal Foam: From Cappuccino to the Cosmos," Emory University physicist and writer Sidney Perkowitz connects the ordinary properties of foam to its deeper scientific meanings, and to its human ones as well. Along with relating how bubbles fit into current theories of the universe, and how foam helps NASA explore other planets and seek clues to the origins of life, he tells how to cook a great soufflé, explains the origin of the billions of plastic peanuts that fill our packages and enter our landfills, and recounts how soda-water was first made in a beer brewery.

"Universal Foam" brings together diverse areas--physics, gourmet cooking, technology, art, and more--so general readers can discover the deeper meanings within foam while being reminded of its light-hearted pleasures.

Perkowitz, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics at Emory, is author of "Empire of Light: A History of Discovery in Science and Art." A renowned expert on the optical properties of matter, he writes for magazines such as The Sciences and New Scientist.


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