Is Helium Beer Possible?

By Anupum Pant

Background

For the fizz, almost all beers have carbon dioxide dissolved in them. However, some others have also experimented with Nitrogen beers. But as fas as I know, no other gases have been used to make beers. Tell me in the comments section if you know any other gasses that have been used to do this.

But, on April 1st  Samuel Adams announced a Helium beer on his YouTube Channel. Note, the date was 1st  April. Here is the video of the announcement.

Save Helium and Science of the Fake Beer

Of course it was an April fools stunt. But what if it was real?

In his “HeliYum beer” Adam announced that, instead of carbon dioxide to create the fizz, he had used the Helium gas in the beer. In the video, as an additional effect, the new beer gas also created a funny atmosphere by affecting the voice of beer tasters. Now, I certainly didn’t like the idea of using Helium to keg beers because I’m very touchy when it comes to wasting the precious gas – Helium. Why? Well, read this Helium article I wrote some time back.

Also, I was adamant in believing if it was even possible to do that. Firstly, the date was 1st  April. Secondly, the science clearly didn’t allow this. Here’s why…

1. Helium is about 700 times less soluble in water as compared to carbon dioxide. It is one of the least soluble gases in water and only about 0.0016 g of Helium would get dissolved in a litre of beer. While, at the same conditions, 2.5 g of carbon dioxide is usually present in a litre of beer. This dissolved carbon dioxide is what realeases slowly and creates the fizz. No slow fizz can be done with Helium. Undissolved helium in beer would coalesce into one or two big bubble and…ploop, would go out as soon as the seal would break.

2. Even if Helium was forced into the beer and sealed in a beer can, it would be useless. As soon as the seal would break, all the meaningful amount of helium present inside, undissolved, under pressure, would come out so quickly (due to less viscous beer) that it would bring out a lot of beer with it. It would create a mess. And you wouldn’t be able to even bring the can near your face by the time the whole gas goes away.

Had carbon dioxide been used for the same purpose, the gas would, like it normally does, come out steadily. It would make the bubbles last.

Verdict: No. It’s useless to try to make beer with Helium unless you make it so viscous that it won’t let the Helium pass so easily. In that case, it won’t be beer really. Also, I’m not sure if the fermentation process could take place in such a viscous condition.

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Watch How 32 Metronomes get Synchronized Automatically!

By Anupum Pant

Background

From biological cells to celestial bodies spontaneous synchronisation is found everywhere in the nature. In simple words, you could call “spontaneous synchronisation” as “a natural self-organisational behaviour” in things. Where, out of a chaos, uniform order starts appearing. If that feels too abstract to understand, read on…

Probably the first human to note this effect was a Dutch physicist, Huygens. Huygens noticed this when he was working on a ship with two pendulum clocks. For very long times, his work of calculating longitudes required him to watch these clocks swinging away their pendulums. He would lie on the bed and watch them go. There was one weird thing he noticed about these pendulum clocks. No matter how the pendulums started swinging, after an hour or so, both the pendulums ended up synchronized! This was a perfect example of uniform order appearing out of no where from an apparent chaos.

The effect amazed scientists for about 350 years. Only then some researchers at Georgia Tech University, were they able to produce a perfect mathematical model that proved it. So, what was happening on the boat? In a similar fashion, would all pendulum clocks in the world get spontaneously synchronized? Let’s look at the following example to find the answer.

Synchronizing metronomes

Think of it this way. You have a couple of metronomes with you – the physical ones, the ones that are based on pendulums. You start each one of them and there is almost no chance that you’d get them perfectly synchronized in the first go. So what do you do to get them synced?

You simply keep all of these metronomes (ticking with the same frequency but different phase relations) on a free-floating table. That gets them synchronized in a matter of minutes. See how the 32 metronomes completely out of sync of each other get synchronized in the following video. Note that they are on a surface that is free-floating.

Adam Milkovich explains the effect very beautifully in the following video:

Another video – Link

Back to Huygens

Now, if we come to see the boat as a free-floating base and the 2 discordant pendulum clocks as metronomes, the segue of their motion into a perfectly synchronized one, makes complete sense.

The only difference is that the boat was a pretty huge free-floating base – something which has a relatively very high mass as compared to the pendulums. And then there is the drag on water; other forces etc.. The pendulums had a very very tiny effect on the boat and in turn, were able to transfer only a teeny bit of energy with every oscillation. So it took longer.

I find it pretty incredible that it even happened in an hour. I think it would have taken a much longer time, given the huge difference in their masses. May be Huygens exaggerated. Or it was a very small boat. Anyway, that is the reason, Huygens’ clocks took about an hour to get synchronized. While the ones we see above are able to do it in a matter of minutes.

Back to the Question

Would all pendulum clocks in the world would get spontaneously synchronized?

Well, I’m not too sure. But this is how I see it:

I think of Earth as a really really really huge free-floating boat. Now, the movement of pendulums on Earth certainly has an effect on the earth. And in turn the other pendulums get affected. And they end up synchronized at some point. But the first effect itself is unimaginably small.

I mean, the Earth is so massive that even if all of the 7 billion people on Earth jumped at the same time, the 6-trillion-trillion-kilogram Earth would move so less. Earth would move about a hundredth of the radius of a single hydrogen atom.

So, pendulums would hardly have any effect. But the effect would certainly be there.

Therefore, I’d say the answer is yes. Yes, all the pendulum clocks on earth would eventually get synchronized. But it would probably take so long, that even earth, leave alone pendulum clocks, would cease existing.

Toy idea: Well, that gives me a great idea for a toy. 5 – 10 pendulums inside a huge pendulum. The inner ones would get beautifully synchronized automatically!

Hit like if you learnt something today.

The Rainbow Coloured Lake – Grand Prismatic Spring

By Anupum Pant

Of all the “cool” places we have here on earth, lakes and other water bodies fascinate me the most. This is probably the reason I keep stumbling upon some of the most amazing lakes over and over. In the past I’ve written about the Taal lake and the bleeding lake of Antarctica. I have several others in mind, but this is the one I’ve picked for today, and it isn’t “cool” – The rainbow coloured lake.

Lying amidst the colourful geysers and hot springs of Yellowstone National park, located in the state of Wyoming, is a lake where you’ll see colours ranging from brilliant yellow, orange, red, green and of course blue. Here is what it looks like…

The lake is called the grand prismatic spring and it is the largest hot spring in the US. The water there is hot enough to burn you. And yet…

The hot spring, is home to different kinds of tiny living creatures. Organisms called thermophiles have learnt to thrive in the abnormally hot place. In fact, these creatures depend so much on the heat that they can’t live away from the hot water.

What makes it coloured?

The lake is coloured, yes. But what causes these bright vivid colours? Is it because there is something in the air around it, or is it due to a industrial chemicals leaking into the lake, or is it due to these organisms? Whatever causes the lake to appear coloured, that too colours appearing in the same order like they would be seen on a rainbow, I wanted to know.

Turns out, it isn’t just the lake that is coloured. The steam that arises from the hot water comes in different colours too!

The orange and other non-green/blue colours which appear there the most after blue are due to a multi-layered sheet of microorganisms that thrive in the lake. These are pigmented. The main pigment is chlorophyll (the same thing which helps the plants make food). But chlorophyll is green. So there are some other yellow, red and orange coloured pigments called Carotenoids, that protect the chlorophyll when the sunlight is bright enough to damage it.

The colour of the part of lake is a function of, amount of Carotenoids  present with chlorophyll. More the Carotenoid, more colours you’ll see. A greater ratio of cartenoids to protect the chlorophyll during summers is the reason why the lake appears not-so-coloured during winters and vividly coloured during the summers. So, it isn’t the variety of microorganisms or chemicals or atmospheric conditions that colour the lake, the colour is due to the different mix of chlorophyll and carotenoids at different patches of the lake at different times of the year.

The best time to visit this place would thus be the summer season!

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