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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.
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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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