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Beer Idle Science Technology

What Beer Can Teach Us About Emerging Technologies 131

cold fjord writes that Assistant Professor and lecturer Dave Conz has an interesting article at Slate, from which: "I believe beer is the perfect lens through which to examine innovation, which is why I teach a senior capstone course at Arizona State University called the Cultural and Chemical History of Beer. ... Home brewing is part of a broad spectrum of DIY activities including amateur astronomy, backyard biodiesel brewing, experimental architecture, open-source 3-D printing, even urban farming. ... Many of these pastimes can lead to new ideas, processes, and apparatus that might not otherwise exist. Depending on your hobby and your town, these activities can be officially encouraged, discouraged, unregulated, or illegal. For example, it's illegal to make biodiesel fuel at home in the city of Phoenix ... but not regulated in the bordering towns of Scottsdale, Chandler, or Tempe."
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What Beer Can Teach Us About Emerging Technologies

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @09:34AM (#39171587)

    Never seen anyone so eager to wash things. Kettles, instruments, bottles, everything. Brewing is a never ending sanitization process. If that's what you'd rather be doing, then you should go for it.

  • by gcore ( 748374 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:04AM (#39171845)
    As a homebrewer, sure, the sanitation may look like that. But in an actual brewery, things are a bit different. In the brewhouse: the malt mill, the mash tun, the lauter tun, the wort kettle, the whirlpool, the plate heat exchanger, all pipes and lines connecting them. The malt silos should also be cleaned, but not on a weekly basis or once a day. The fermentation cellar: floor, hoses, pipes, fittings, propagation vessels, fermentation tanks, lager tanks, equipment for analysis. Several times a day. The filter: floor, fittings, hoses, pipes, the filtration devices, pressure tanks. This needs to be done several times a day. Filling hall: beer line from the filter, filling cylinders, the filling machines, rinsers, floors, transport bands... yeah, just about everything in the filling hall because at that point, the quality of the beer can not be improved, just maintained. Oh, and crates, bottles. Here everything needs to be sanitized several times a day. At a modern brewery, there's ALOT of cleaning. At any given time, if you find yourself without anything to do you can always go and swab the floors with sodium hydroxide or chlorine. In many cases in a brewery, sanitation needs to be done BEFORE and/or AFTER each process. But yeah, different for most homebrewers.
  • Re:great (Score:4, Informative)

    by John3 ( 85454 ) <`moc.sllenroc' `ta' `3nhoj'> on Monday February 27, 2012 @10:17AM (#39171997) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, in our community kids are always spending $100+ to buy homebrew gear, cooking and then fermenting, and two to three weeks later getting s**t-faced on their homebrew. Or more likely they head to the local Kwikee Mart with a fake ID buy a cheap case of light beer in cans and get s**t-faced immediately. The article is not about consuming alcohol, it's about the brewing process and technology.

  • Re:Homebrew rebound (Score:4, Informative)

    by John3 ( 85454 ) <`moc.sllenroc' `ta' `3nhoj'> on Monday February 27, 2012 @11:05AM (#39172537) Homepage Journal

    it became cheaper and easier to locate decent beer so people that brewed just to get good beer no longer needed to brew at home

    That's like trying to argue that people only cook at home because there are not enough restaurants. "If they'd just open a Thai restaurant around here, then architects could stop putting kitchens in homes". Don't think so...

    Not really an accurate analogy. Cooking at home is cheaper than eating at the Thai restaurant, usually significantly. When you cook your Thai meal you don't need to wait two or three weeks to eat it, and you make much less of a mess in your kitchen than if you were brewing beer. Brewing beer at home costs the same as or more than equivalent micro-brews (assuming you have a decent beer retailer in your area), plus you need to do the work (cook, sanitize, and wait for fermentation to complete). So if you run out of India Pale Ale you can drive to Stop & Shop and plunk down $19.99 for a case of Sierra Nevada IPA (in the fridge), or mail order homebrew supplies (two cases worth of ingredients for $45), wait a week, brew the beer, wait a week, rack the beer, wait a week, bottle the beer, wait two weeks, and then drink it.

    From my experience selling homebrew supplies for over 17 years, the increased availability of micro-brews definitely encouraged the casual home brewers to store the gear and stop brewing. In the mid-1990's there were many independent homebrew shops in our county, but they all went out of business by 2001. We considered dropping the products when business dipped, but as each independent shop closed we picked up a few more customers so our sales stayed basically level during this tough stretch. Many of the people that stopped brewing have started again as they enjoy the hobby, but the reasons for brewing at home are now purely for the enjoyment of the hobby versus the late 1990's when the lack of micro-brews was a big factor.

    Interesting to note that homebrewing has been popular in England for much longer (it was essentially illegal in the US until 1979), but in England people brew to avoid the high beer taxes. They use sugar instead of malt for many recipes as they are brewing to save money. You can still see this when you read recipes on cans of British beer kits as they all refer to adding sugar, whereas most US homebrewers avoid sugar and use malt extract instead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 27, 2012 @11:23AM (#39172727)

    You're apparently pretty physics challenged. Maybe you should go stumble around wikipedia for a while.

    Recoil kicks straight back along the barrel axis, and has nothing to do with gravity. Since your grip is below (in the standard grip) the barrel, the recoil + the forward force from your hand that keeps the gun more-or-less stationary generate a moment, which rotates the gun upward. Change the grip, you change the moment axis, and thus the rotation plane.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Monday February 27, 2012 @11:31AM (#39172825)

    What exactly does gravity have to do with it at all? And what is this fundamental part of recoil that produces an upward force.

    My brain can really only see newton's second applying a force opposite that of the one making the bullet travel out of the gun. So essentially straight backwards.

    Except of course the guns center of gravity is unlikely to be exactly in line with that force and so you get torque. Also you are holding the gun below where that force is being applied providing a pivot for the same conversion into torque.

    This doesn't cause the gun to be driven upward, it causes it to rotate. If you were to holsd the gun sideways that same pivot would now cause the gun to rotate sideways.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas