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Everyday science

Everyday science

Chocolate lubrication, benefits of electric cars, the silence of snow

13 Jan 2023 Michael Banks
melted chocolate
Hot chocolate: researchers have found that when it touches the tongue a fatty film is released that coats the tongue and other surfaces in the mouth to make the chocolate feel smooth. (courtesy: Siavash Soltanahmadi)

Chocolate is hard to resist for many people, which is mostly thanks to how it changes from a solid into a smooth emulsion when in the mouth.

Researchers at the University of Leeds have now investigated this “mouthfeel” in more detail by placing chocolate on an artificial 3D tongue-like surface.

When chocolate touches the tongue, they found it releases a fatty film that coats the tongue and other surfaces in the mouth to make the chocolate feel smooth. The sensation arises from the way the chocolate is lubricated from the ingredients in the chocolate – such as fat and solid cocoa particles – as well as saliva.

Fat deeper inside the chocolate, they conclude, doesn’t play a major role in mouthfeel and so omitting it may lead to healthier, luxury chocolates. That’s a thumbs up from us.

Electric avenue

The electric car industry is growing each year and a new study has found that switching to electric vehicles can not only have a positive environmental impact but also save you money too.

The researchers found that 85 million vehicle-owning US households could halve their transport bills by going electric with drivers in Washington, California and New York seeing the greatest reductions in transport costs and greenhouse-gas emissions due to a combination of cleaner power grids and low electricity prices in comparison to petrol.

“We are hopeful that this study will inform people on where significant, affordable reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions can be made,” notes Jesse Vega-Perkins from the University of Michigan. “For the majority of people, the ongoing fuel cost of electric vehicles will be even lower than adopting newer, more efficient gasoline vehicles.”

And finally, if you have ever wondered why everything goes silent after a snowfall, it’s not just the reduction of human activity but also due to the acoustic damping effect of the snow itself.

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