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Sunday, January 11, 2004
Double Digitry
The temperature on my porch has soared up to 10. It has been 3 or less everytime I've checked in the past couple of days. I'm not here during the warmest part of the workday, so I'm sure it actually gotten higher than that, just not while I've actually been here to experience it. And the results of the beer test were mystifying. 5 bottles of beer (4 clear coronas and 1 brown Sam Adams) sat upon my porch. At 3 degrees, all beers stayed unfrozen. When the temp went up to 20, 2 Coronas and the Sam froze, and the Sam's lid unsealed leaving a little frozen beer foam around it. The temp dropped again to 0, and 2 more Coronas froze. Finally this morning, over a week after the beer test started, the last beer is frozen.

Have you ever experienced the phenomenon of a can of beer sitting outside in subfreezing temps, but remaining liquid, until you bring it inside and open it, at which time the water in the beer freezes and you get a beer slushie? This little physics puzzle presented itself to me years ago, before Olivia's birth. And it was repeated several times, leaving me to wonder, why? How? Should we get those Slurpee paddles straws for these special occasions? My friend Greg, the physics nut (he read Einstein for fun) said it's about the principle of heat transfer. If I understood him correctly, it was precipitated by the significant difference in temps between outside where beer was stored (sometimes sub-zero), and inside where it was probably around 80 degrees (the poorly-insulated house I was in led me to keep burners and oven on when it was wicked cold). The cold beer, not frozen because the freezing point of alcohol is way lower than that of water, was made to rapidly warm up when brought into the tropical warmth of the kitchen. The alcohol warmed quicker than the water, separated itself from the water, and the water was then all alone to freeze until it could more slowly bring itself to the ambient temp.

Tesselate that.


permalink posted by cat 8:37 AM

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