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The Ketchup Bottle of the Future!

Posted by Josh Rothman  May 23, 2012 07:30 AM

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A team of MIT engineers appear to have definitively solved the ketchup conundrum! As Austin Carr reports over at Fast Company, the team has invented a bottle coating, LiquiGlide, which takes solid form but is "lubricated" like a liquid. Put it inside a ketchup bottle, one researcher says, and the ketchup "just floats right onto the sandwich." (Yes, that is 100% real ketchup in the video below.)

The team, which consists of four grad students, a post-doc, and an MIT professor, is part of the Varanasi Research Group, which specializes in "nano engineered surfaces, interfaces, and coatings." Last week, the team came in second at the MIT 100k Competition (where, unsurprisingly, it also won the Audience Choice Award). Dave Smith, one of the grad students on the team, explains to Carr just how useful this "structured liquid" might be:

"It’s funny: Everyone is always like, 'Why bottles? What’s the big deal?' But then you tell them the market for bottles -- just the sauces alone is a $17 billion market," Smith says. "And if all those bottles had our coating, we estimate that we could save about one million tons of food from being thrown out every year."

Here's hoping that shampoo is next. Read more -- and watch a mayonnaise video! -- at Fast Company.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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