Going To The Mat For A Fling

By John Salak


Thank goodness the Germans stepped up, especially in the face of the endless stream global of challenges facing mankind. Yes, the world is dealing with a seemingly unending pandemic, climate change is ravaging the environment, droughts are squeezing Africa dry and regional violence is flaring up everywhere.

In the face of these challenges, physicists at the Helmholtz Institute of Radiation and Nuclear Physics and their colleagues at the Argelander Institute for Astronomy at the University of Bonn have tackled a crucial issue. Why don’t beer mats—those cardboard coasters used to protect tabletops—fly more effectively when they’re spun across a tavern?

They discovered these mats usually go astray after 0.45 seconds. (In case you’re wondering, playing card lose it after 0.24 seconds.) The reason for the poor flight performance is the interaction between gravity, lift and the conservation of angular momentum. Ultimately, the mat tips backwards shortly after being thrown due to gravity, the team reported.

This was not a slipshod research project. These highly focused Germans pulled out all the stops by building a beer mat throwing machine and then recorded the flights of these coasters with a high-speed camera to track their groundbreaking work.

Way to goes guys. What a relief. The research even provided some guidance for frustrated mat flingers. “Those who want to throw really far and precisely should place the mat in a vertical position and apply backward rotation,” advised Johann Ostmeyer, a PhD student who realized the pressing need for this research and pressed the powers that be to cough up the Euros to fund it.

Of course, this groundbreaking research, which was proudly supported German Research Foundation (DFG) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), does beg some pressing questions.

Why were astronomers involved? Do they tend to hang out at German beer halls? And what’s next for these curious scientists? They’re not telling but speculation is rife with research possibilities that include studies on:

Lederhosen flinging

Bratwurst Snorting

Schnitzel Tossing

Sauerkraut Spitting

Strudel Gobbling

And, dare we say, Black Forrest Cake hurling.

 

 

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