The physics of spilling coffee [Peter Vos]

[Source: Peter Vos, Master of Architecture Candidate at Parsons School of Design – The New School, LinkedIn, 12th April 2021]

About 17 or 18 years ago, I was standing in line at the cafeteria, on the 8th floor’s Math and Science department’s at the Eindhoven University of Technology. In front of me was a Math Professor holding their Styrofoam cup of coffee.

I can’t remember if it was a man or a woman, but what I do still vividly remember is that they turned around and struck up a conversation wondering aloud what makes coffee spill so much when you walk from one office to the next. Was it fill height? cup wall angle? Cup material or grip?
I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker at the time, so I produced an awkward smile and a wholly unsatisfying answer..

Professor,
I don’t know if you’re still wondering, or if you even still care. But based on a rigorous longitudinal study of n=1, I have figured this out.
It took a decade of running through office and production corridors, two years of dodging fragile models in a crowded architecture studio, and a year of evading two cats in lock-down office.

I hope this reaches you somehow:

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