Herr Dirketor Funranium, Down Under (100% Paul Hogan Free Content)

The quote of the trip so far: “I think that in the depth of winter, Australians have forgotten what summer is like and what it does to beer.  This thing is brilliant.  How many thousand have you sold to Queensland?”

Answer: None…yet.

Let me begin by thanking the exquisite attack hospitality of the people of Australia with their demands that I try their favorite beers.  A stein that is empty is a void that demands to be filled and no suggestion has been ignored so far and all enjoyed.  I do have to scoff at the declaration for one of the brews at the Lord Nelson Brewery that it was “very hoppy”.  The brewers of California are demented and fighting a war of nuclear escalation with their ever hoppier beers.  Like the decendents of white mice turning black in mutagenic defense against radiation in the MegaMouse Project, I’ve had to acclimate to the ambient beer.

The mother of the groom on being served a modicum of Kona BBotE declared in good British fashion, “Ooo, yummy!” with Wallace & Gromit cheese-related finger wriggles.  I’m calling that a win.  A budding librarian has her 2L of Ethiopian with gleam of delight & fear in her eye.  I look forward to hearing how it treats her.

I have, unfortunately, discovered that all the tales of indifference and horror attributed to Australian Post are entirely accurate.  There is a certain level of quantum uncertainty combined with a lackadaisical attitude that gives one the impression that an package will get there when a passing drunken traveler can be flagged down and bothered to care.  I realize this is a traditional postal service mode, but BBotE demands a higher level of professionalism.  Eventually, when sufficient money is waved in their faces, postal employees remember that they do have actual express mail options and have to go rummage for the forms and remember which buttons to press on the McMail Service register screen.

I did bring extra Steins of Science with me to the antipodes, but both the imperial pint FMJs have been claimed leaving only a 350ml and a 1000ml.  Unlike BBotE, the steins are not perishable and can be entrusted to the slow pace of Australian Post.  The listings are active on the main page, but I will refuse orders from anywhere outside Oz and NZ until the 13th of July.  I am all about the instant gratification.

Vacation – The Sad Truth

Now in the homestretch before the redeye flight to Sydney on Tuesday.  All of you in America who placed orders for BBotE last Thursday will have your precious braingojuice shipping on Monday and in your hot little hands by Wednesday.  As for you lucky Australians, assuming Oz Customs does not declare me to be a potential terrorist based on the quantity of caffeinated beverage and steins I will be carrying in my luggage, steins will be ship out on Thursday and BBotE the following Monday (I don’t trust Australian Post not to leave your BBotE languishing over the weekend anymore than the US Postal service…with damn good reason).

For everyone else, I am sorry to report that I’ll be taking no orders until July 12th.  The listings have all been switched to Out Of Stock.  Stay tuned for announcements of the taps being turned back on and tales of misadventure in Australia & New Zealand.  For those coming to meet Herr Direktor Funranium in person in the pubs of Sydney and Christchurch, I look forward to some damn fine racontuering…

VACATION ALERT: June 10th Closure

Tonight, at 10pm PST, I will be suspending sales of the Steins of Science in preparation for my trip to Australia.  If you want one before I go, now is the time.  Otherwise, you’ll be waiting until mid-July when I turn them back on.

Black Blood of the Earth…you have until the 17th for that.

You have been warned.

FYI: Impending Vacation Store Closure

Because of the preparation lag time, I will be turning off the ordering for BBotE on June 17th.  Because of the longer lead time for the steins, I’ll be turning off ordering for those on the 10th.  I will turn it all back on come July 12th when I return.

So, if you want something before I head Down Under now’s the time to hammer me with requests.

Having Trouble Placing Your Order?

I’m noticing several orders for BBotE that seem to be getting hung up at the Paypal stage of the game.  If you’re having issues, please drop a line through the “Contact Us” link on the homepage.  That way I have an email with which to get in touch with you.

Alas, Price Increases

Because my preferred dewar manufacturer has jumped up the prices of that most integral component of a Stein of Sceince, that translates to an increase in prices to you, the Scientific Drinking Public.  Not dramatic jumps, but noticeable.

My apologies, but such is life in the big city.

SCIENTIFIC DRINKING WORLD TOUR 2010 – Portland, OR

Now in our third day in the Rose City and the stats are pleasing.

Beers consumed: 6 delicious imperial pints and counting

Black Blood of the Earth Distrributed to Portlanders: 2.5L and counting

Hours slept: not enough, but that’s the cost of fun.

To the folks at the Lucky Devil, McMennamins Imbrie Hall, and Deschutes Brewery, thank you for humoring the man with the strange stein and filling it with beer, but only charging me as if it were a normal pint. I happily explained how the steins worked to a few employees and interested fellow patrons at each place. When I shared my belief that beer should be consumed at the temperature it comes off the tap, one of the bartenders nodded sagely and declared, “That’s why I work behind the bar, man.”

SCIENTIFIC DRINKING TOUR 2010!!! Next Stop: Portland, OR 4/29-5/2

To celebrate the nuptials of Jessica Johnson and Royal Hebert, joining together in a configuration no Transformer can defeat, I will be bringing a truly obscene amount of BBotE and a few extra steins. People of Portland…now is the time for your handoff!

What Are Dewars?

A minimal jargon explanation, by Herr Direktor Funranium. Written while consuming a carbonated, no H2O Manhattan.  Standards of insobriety, with corresponding misspellings and grammatical errors, are being upheld.

The stupid simple, “Go away, yer botherin’ me, boy” explanation of how a dewar works is that it’s like a really, really good scientific-grade Thermos(TM). The average person will nod and walk away, no better informed than they were a moment before. That kind of behavior encouraging ignorance is inexcusable and is dragging down the march of progress.  We at Funranium Labs wish to enlighten…and drink. When combined, drunken enlightenment of others is also known as raconteurism. Telling a tale while wildly gesticulating, cocktail in hand, is the way we roll here. I seem to have gotten distracted. Where’s my drink?

Anyway, it would be more proper to describe a Thermos(TM) as a cheap commercial knockoff of a dewar. I’ll let the Thermos(TM) wikipedia article defame them properly for me. A beverage container that was a vacuum no better than a tenth of an atmosphere is hardly better than the old styrofoam beer can cozies. They rely primarily on the coefficient of thermal conductivity of select, proprietary insulating materials (usually a styrofoam-like substance) to minimize thermal transfer from the ambient atmosphere to your drink. Ah, I may have lost you there.  Let us take a trip down High School Physics Memory Lane. Please make certain you are wearing pants before wandering the hallways and classrooms of yesteryear…*BEGIN WAVY LINES OF FLASHBACK*

There are three ways to transfer heat from one body/location to another. They are conduction, convection, and radiation. As we flip to the end of the chapter of definitions:

Conduction: transfer of heat directly from body to another by molecular motion. This is entirely dependent upon the physical/chemical properties of the materials in question on how well heat transfers from one body to the next.
Convection: transfer of heat by mass transport of warm fluids/gasses mixing with cooler ones. See Also: your oven (no, not your mom.  I know you were expecting that joke though)
Radiation: transfer of heat by the emission of energy from a warm body as electromagnetic radiation (i.e. light).

Now, let’s review why dewars keep things at a constant temperature, not just cold. To the extent that you can reduce the three modes of heat transfer, you keep whatever at its starting temperature longer. The whole point is to keep temperatures as constant as possible; this is why another term for a dewar is “cryostat”. If it is hot coffee, it stays hot. If it is a frosty Manhattan, it stays refreshingly cold to the last drop. How does it reduce the transfer?

  1. It is made of two layers of material that are very good insulators (don’t conduct heat) with a seriously hard vacuum in the space between them.
  2. It comes with a lovely insulating foam lid.
  3. It is silvered on all possible surfaces containing the fluid.

Good scientific grade dewars are built of borosilicate glass which is fairly good about not conducting heat compared to metal and plastic (see also: most beer cans and cheap thermoses), reducing heat transfer by this route. Similarly, you need a vacuum to prevent both conduction and convection; if there is nothing there with which to conduct heat or convect, then you won’t have conduction and convection in those directions. Good quality scientific dewars will have a vacuum at least as low as .0000001 atmospheres of pressure, as opposed to the 1 to .1 atmospheres most Thermoses are (an atmosphere is defined as the outside air pressure at sea level at standard temperature, 68°F, and 20% relative humidity). The silvering is to help reflect all energy that your fluid could be absorbing from or emitting to the outside world, reducing radiation. Really, the only direction to thermal transfer via convection of warmed or cooled air, conduction to the air/fluid interface or radiation into open space is straight up from the top of your fluid. If you slap a decently insulated lid on top, well, you haven’t eliminated all of those but you’ve reduced them as much as you can such that you can still drink your beer.

How well does all this work, you might ask? At sea level, liquid nitrogen (AKA: LN2 for people in the biz) exists as a -196°C/-321°F fluid; it readily boils off in seconds when poured on the normal room temperature floor, which tends to crack the floor tiles and makes the maintenance staff grumpy. As a cryotech, I am very familiar with the situation where a bench top dewar by is sitting on the counter filled with LN2, lid on, and will still have LN2 in it three days later… much to my surprise when I bumped into it by accident.

THAT is why I use dewars to make these steins.