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All images courtesy of Ernie Button. Thinking about the problem, they concluded that because whiskey is produced by collecting the distilled ethers produced from ground-up grains, it stood to reason that some microscopic particles remain. “My group knew there were other components in whiskey,” said Stone. “But since the deposits were fairly uniform, we guessed that it was something that would stick to a substrate.” So the researchers added yet another ingredient: tiny polymer molecules. The scientists didn’t uncover the exact identity of the whiskey molecules; i.e. what they are made of or how they differ from brew to brew. But they did confirm that these molecules have some common characteristic that cause them to distribute uniformly and stick to a surface as their carrying liquid evaporates. What surprised Stone the most was that the experiments yielded a novel understanding of alcohol-water mixture evaporation. better understanding of the discrete role played by the alcohol-water system and the polymeric component, is that combination of insights is new.” Hearing some of the results of the lab investigation, Button said he was a bit floored that his seemingly innocuous observation might lead to some real-world practical applications, such as better ways to cover larger areas with thin coatings. Some of his images accompanied a presentation Hyoungsoo Kim made on the project at the November 2014 meeting of the American Physical Society in San Francisco. A full paper on the topic is planned, with Button named as a co-author. “He was the one who looked at it and said, it’s pretty and I’ll take pictures of it, but he’s also the one who said, this is interesting and I want to investigate it,” Stone said. “I ended up getting contacted, which is lucky for me. But his is the great insight. That’s a sign of a wonderful mind.” “My impression when we started was that we were pointing out certain features that are known in evaporating binary liquids,” Stone said. “My impression now, because we have a 32 SciArt in America April 2015