Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Mixin’ It Up

Picture a drop of concentrated blue dye dropping into two different shaped vessels of water. The vessels hold an equal volume of water. One container is flat and almost as shallow as a cookie sheet, the other is a tall and slender vase. After the drop descends into the clear inviting liquid in each container, it is mixed. It is mixed with a spoon, the same spoon for both.

Does the drop of blue mix better and quicker and more thoroughly in the slender container versus the flat and shallow one? There seems like there is more disruptive and efficient mixing possible in the thinner vessel because there is just more potential for fast turbulent turnover aided by gravity.

I thought of this today in the lab, on a much subtler scale than described above, when I used the very smallest tube we have to mix the reaction in. Mixing is key in PCR reactions so I am inclined to think about this type of thing.

It is probably a useful thought for cooking too I suppose if you were in the market for optimizing your cake batter.

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