Tuesday, March 07, 2006


don't drop that coffee cup, it might break -- the floor

"the winning coffee cup, made of a tough ceramic composite by students from the university of missouri-rolla, left a dent in the pavement."

i loved this wacky tale. and i could completely relate to the concept, having in my time broken several truly beloved coffee cups.

one was a horrible, tacky vintage-1950s souvenir mug from florida, with a grinning alligator for the handle. my husband and i used to have an ironic joke about this cup -- when we wanted to use it, we'd say, "gimme da gator, baby!"

we also used this phrase ironically whenever one of us got something we didn't need, or want, or which later proved to be a pain. but alas, like nearly all things ceramic, the mug eventually broke into many shards.

and i know many other coffee lovers have lost cups that were near and dear to their hearts too. let's face it, most java fans have a favorite coffee cup, which becomes a very personal object and holds a lot of sentimental value.

breaking or losing it hurts more than little! but clearly if you drop this mug the engineering students have built, it's the floor that's in danger!

while obviously this competition is an exercise in materials science aimed at pushing people to explore new kinds of foodsafe ceramics, i think it's interesting that the winning coffee cup appears to be actually made of aluminum oxide, the basis of the metal aluminum, and zirconium, the stuff they make fake diamonds with.

that is, i wonder if it isn't really a sneaky form of metal. is this more akin to say a stainless steel travel mug?

should this count as a real coffee cup at all? i mean, it doesn't sound very much like elegant porcelain or bone china!

in fact i suppose it is exactly what scientists call cer-met or cera-mel, to denote a mixture of metal and ceramic. very hi-tech.

on the other hand, now at least i understand why the thing's so darn solid! and finally, of course, i wonder how feasible the thing would be to actually mass produce?

i know many coffee shop owners who tell me that cup breakage is a serious expense for them, which is why they serve coffee in those nasty paper cups, even tho' they understand that a true china cup does better service to their beverages!

posted by fortune | 8:34 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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