This question might have made you laugh but a team of researchers has already set out to determine the number of licks needed to finish a lollipop! But what for?
A very serious study
It is a well known fact that finishing a lollipop without resorting to crunching the last bit is hard to achieve. All joking aside, a very serious study on how many licks it takes to finish a lollipop was carried out in 2015.
Researchers at the University of New York estimated that it took up to 2, 500 licks to finish a normal lollipop! The research project wasn’t intended to remind the public that licking a lollipop without crunching it can last a long time. We all know that! In fact the study could be useful for several other applications.
What did the study involve?
Scientists placed several lollipops, measuring from 1 to 2 cm into water so that the water dripped at a variable speed (0.1 to 1 m/s). Lollipops of different sizes and forms were used from cylindrical to spherical shapes.
The experiment allowed researchers to observe the form of the lollipop as it reduced in size. The turbulence produced from the stream of water caused the bottom of the lollipop to flatten. Each lollipop, regardless of it’s original form, ended up with the same shape. According to the researchers all the lollipops ended up being carved in the same way before disappearing, with a flattened bottom and a bulging top.
Why is this study interesting?
Researchers also studied the speed at which the lollipop was sculpted. According to the research the dissolving speed of the lollipop increased with the squared root of velocity. Therefore a lollipop measuring 1 cm would take a thousand licks to finish while a classic round lollipop measuring 2.5 cm would take 2,500 licks. On the other hand, the study does not take into account the fact that a person licking a lollipop can not reproduce the same uniform effect of flowing water running onto a motionless lollipop.
Despite the fun nature of this study the interesting results obtained could also be applied to industries which dissolve materials. Geology researchers could also be interested as it could help them understand the erosion process of rocks by water whether it is sea or rivers.