Monday, June 1, 2009

EepyBird Diet Coke and Mentos Live!

It was the show thousands of people had waited for, the chance to see live what many had only heard about or seen on the internet: the phenomenon of bottles of Coke exploding like dancing fountains simply by having Mentos mints dropped into them.

EepyBird with their slogan, 'Entertainment for the Curious Mind,' is the brainchild of mad scientists Fritz and Stephen who were performing at the 4th Annual Maker Faire 2009 - see previous blogs

'And we are just a few minutes away from making a really big mess!' they announced to a crowd fascinated at the sight of 100 bottles of Diet Coke lined up on stage with strings dangling from them.

In front of the stage was the 'splash zone' where mostly youngsters were waiting to be drenched with cascading Diet Coke. Steve, also a lawyer, gave warning of the wind direction and people laughed as a bunch of kids migrated to the dry side!

But first, a brief scientific explanation was given as any scientist worth their fizz would give.

What causes the fizz? asked Fritz, a man whose name has surely predestined him for such a discovery and who is also a professional juggler.

Nucleation, he answered, a reaction caused by carbonization sticking onto a rough surface. You can stick your finger into a fizzy drink, and a few bubbles will rise to the surface.

Why Mentos? is one of the two most-asked questions by the curious.

Because, said Fritz, the mints are coated in 40 layers of liquid sugar which makes them 'chemically rough', meaning the carbonization 'grabs onto the bumps'.

He pointed to the Mentos: six round white mints poised over the neck of each bottle, held in place by a pin.

Cut into the bottles are different-sized holes and slits, which produces different patterns to the fountains.

And then came the unbeatable offer: you could buy a kit to experiment yourself. 'It's the only place on the planet you can go buy these!' exclaimed Steve and Fritz, adding that the 'most important' lesson to learn today was, 'Try this at home!'

And then Fritz moved on to the second most-asked question: Why Diet soda?

Any carbonated beverage will work, he said, but the combination of Diet Coke and Mentos has been found in their scientific research to be particularly powerful. Plus there is the benefit that it is not sticky. As they spend much of their time beneath a fizzy fountain, they are not coated in sticky liquid!

With the science lesson over, we were about to watch the demonstration when a voice from the crowd shouted: 'We have a missing child!' Instantly, a little boy in red tee-shirt and blue cap was held aloft. Happily his father spotted him within seconds and the child was passed from shoulder to shoulder into the arms of dad who was in the splash zone.

And then it was down to watching this unique show: the music began, Fritz and Stephen rushed around the stage pulling strings, mints dropped and spouts of Diet Coke spiralled, criss-crossed and rose high in the air before falling on the mad scientists and the laughing crowd in the splash zone.

Sixteen-year-old Kathy had tried enthusiastically to shout out a question to Steve and Fritz at the start of the show but her voice didn't carry over the crowd.

'I think it is better than last year!' she said afterwards. 'I think it is really cool how they use the different shapes that they drill in the tops, and how it changes the shape of the blasts.'

Kathy, who wants to be 'some sort of scientist, I'm not really sure', also commented of the show, 'I think it's more popular than the county fair that we have here because we're in Silicon Valley and we like technology rather than rides.'

Altogether over the Maker Faire, Fritz and Steve performed three times on each of the two days.
Last April they beat their own Guinness World Record by setting off 1,360 geysers in Lueven, Belgium, and since January 2006, according to their website, have been through about 4,000 bottles of Diet Coke and over 24,000 Mentos.

The pair are now really grateful for sponsorship from Coca Cola and Mentos!

For more info and videos:

pics by Chris, also here is a link to Chris' Flickr photostream of the event - previous blog of Sunday, May 31.

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