The Feynman Sprinkler

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Casual Calculations

It’s amazing how many of us understand the basics of quantum mechanics and general relativity, but still get tripped up by seemingly simple things. I’ve mentioned in the past that we’re still not entirely certain why a bicycle stays upright, which I think it pretty spectacular; we can put a man on the moon, but a bicycle thwarts us.

Recently I posted about a particularly nifty way to cool beer and I couldn’t be certain of the exact mechanism. Recently I had a good opportunity to use this method when I was having some knock-off beers with a bunch of physics PhD students, so I asked them to speculate on the mechanism too. It wasn’t immediately obvious to anybody there and even after the ensuing discussion, there still seemed to be some uncertainty. I think I’m pretty convinced now that it’s mainly evaporative cooling now though. (Although I’m yet to…

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