Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Review

The three most-read posts this year were, as follows...
  1. Rheology Research Center
  2. Favorite Rheology Definition
  3. UV-Curing Rheometers
Thanks to everyone who stopped by this year, and I hope to keep posting in 2010.

SNL gel/liquid sketch update

With the renewed attention on airport security, someone was bound to find the SNL sketch referenced here. (Thanks to The Daily Dish By Andrew Sullivan for the link.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

What Research Isn't

" 'Google' is not a synonym for 'research' "
Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol (page 98)

What Research Is...

  • “Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.” 
    Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (Nobel Prize for Medicine)
  • “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”
    Albert Einstein
  • “What is research but a blind date with knowledge?” 
    Will Harvey (Silicon Valley entrepreneur)
  • “The outcome of serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.”
    Thorstein Veblen (economist)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bingham

Today marks the 131st anniversary of the birth of Eugene C. Bingham, one of the founders of the science of rheology.  According to Wikipedia, he was also an advocate of the metric system and helped build the Appalachian Trail.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jobs Report (December)

On December 2nd, there were 28 jobs found using the keyword search "rheolog*" on  17 jobs required a BS degree, 5 jobs required a MS degree, and 1 job required a PhD degree.  5 jobs did not specify a degree.

Previous months--
  • November: 32
  • October: 30
  • September: 24
The tags on previous reports have been changed from "Jobs" to "Jobs Report" since no specific jobs are being advertised.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Society of Rheology Membership

It's time for me to renew my membership in the Society of Rheology for 2010.  I would recommend membership for anyone who's interested in the study of rheology.  The cost is only $40 ($25 for students).  Membership includes 6 issues of the Journal of Rheology, 12 issues of Physics Today, and 2 issues of the Rheology Bulletin.
SOR is a small society; I'm only one of two members who live in Nebraska.  According to the online membership guide, the following states have only one member--
• Alaska
• Hawaii
• Idaho
• Nevada
• Vermont

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SOR '09 Report #2

In a previous post, I asked for feedback on the industrial roundtable discussion at last month's SOR meeting.  Nicholas Wyatt of the Colorado School of Mines writes:
I made my travel plans specifically to enable me to attend that discussion thinking that it would be a good place to meet some folks from industry. I liked the idea, but I was disappointed with the outcome. The first, and most apparent, problem I found with the discussion was that it was supposed to be an outreach to industry, but the four people on the panel all work in academia (Norm Wagner - University of Delaware, Gerry Fuller - Stanford University, Jeffrey Morris - City College of New York, Daniel Klingenberg - University of Wisconsin). Each of the panel members took a few minutes to discuss the areas of their research that have potential industrial applications. I think this would have been much more helpful and useful if the panel members had been people who work in industry who could share what they do and what impact their research has in the fields they work in. For example, there were several people who attended the meeting from DOW, Proctor and Gamble, CP Kelco, and Halliburton (among others). I think they could have provided a better picture of what it's like to do research in an industrial setting.
If anyone else has any comments on the industrial roundtable, send them along.

Update: Mr. Wyatt's last name was misspelled in the original post.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Deadly Viscoelastic Fluid

While searching around for rheology blogs, I found the blog Entertaining Research. In a 2007 post, Guru found a paper by Gaume and Fortiere that studied the viscoelastic properties of pitcher plants from Borneo. When the fluid in the plant was diluted, it was able to retain some of its insect-trapping properties. The authors attribute this to the elastic properties of the fluid and found a correlation between the fluid’s Deborah number and the effectiveness of the fluid’s ability to capture insects.

Seeking Inspiration

If anyone knows any good science or engineering blogs, you can let me know in the comments or by sending an email to the address listed at the top of the screen.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Jobs Report (November)

On November 3rd, there were 32 jobs found using the keyword search "rheolog*" on  Previously, there were 30 jobs found in October and 24 in September.

Monday, November 2, 2009

UV Curing: Rheometers

All five major rotational rheometer companies sell attachments that allow users to track the performance of UV-sensitive coatings over time. If you want more information, here are links:
  1. TA Instruments
  2. Reologica (scroll down to see the UV cell)
  3. Malvern
  4. Thermo
  5. Anton Paar
At the Anton Paar website, you can also download an application note on the UV curing cell (registration required). (Disclosure: I used to work at Anton Paar, and I wrote that specific application note.) I saw an application note available at the Malvern site as well (registration required).

This entry was inspired by the post at the Rheo Thing concerning UV coatings.

Update--cleaned up the extra white space.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A few words from the TSA

I wrote TSA through their web site, asking if they used a particular definition of gel in their rules for carry-on luggage. {I identified myself as a science blogger.} The TSA Contact Center responded by saying
"Regardless of whether an item is on the prohibited or permitted items list, the Transportation Security Officers (TSO's) have discretion to prohibit an individual from carrying an item through the screening checkpoint or onboard an aircraft if the item poses a security threat. Therefore, TSA security screening personnel make the final decision on whether to permit items like certain gels into the sterile area of the airport."

I infer from this that TSA's definition of a gel is somewhat arbitrary. The security officers have jurisdiction over all fluid and semi-fluid materials.

Liquids versus Gels

The standard thermodynamic definition of a liquid is a material that takes the shape but not the volume of its container. A gel is a material that exhibits no flow when in steady-state. Gelatin is a common gel.

"Is a turkey sandwich a gel or liquid?"

Three years ago, Saturday Night Live broadcast a sketch on Transportation Security Administration screener training. In the sketch, the aspiring scanners discuss liquids, gels, and the differences between them. Here’s some of the dialogue…
A video doesn’t appear to be available online, but here’s the script.
Chris: You want to name some liquids, and/or some gels!
Dane: Liquids and gels.
[ no response from the stone-faced recruits ]
Dane: Anything you've got!
Kenan: Water.
Dane: [ pleased ] Water! That is a liquid! Good!
Maya: Toothpaste!!
Chris: Bingo!! That is a gel!!
Amy: Shampoo!!
Dane: [ smiling ] Wow! you guys are doing great!

UPDATE (9/2010): A link to a video of the sketch is here.

(Information for our foreign visitors after the jump)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

SOR '09 Report

I attended this year’s Society of Rheology Meeting in Madison, WI last week. It was my first meeting since the 2005 meeting in Lubbock, TX and my first meeting as a representative of ConAgra Foods. Here is a list of this year’s sessions…

1. Biorheology and Rheology in Biological Systems
2. Emulsion, Blends, and Multiphase Systems
3. Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics and Stability
4. Gels, Glasses, and Jammed Systems
5. Industrial and Complex Systems Rheology
6. Microrheometry and Microfluidics
7. Molecular Modeling and Simulation in Rheology
8. Self-Assembled Systems and Interfacial Rheology
9. Suspensions and Colloids
10. Polymer Solutions and Melts
11. Viscoplasticity and Soft Solids
12. Local chair PDA: iPhone (minimum memory 16 GB)

Because of my current interests, I concentrated on presentations that discussed food. There were 9 presentations with the word “food” in the abstract, and I was able to attend 8 of them; two talks had a conflict. (This system was flawed; I missed a talk on dough rheology because the authors did not use the word “food” in their abstract.) Generally speaking, the food-related talks discussed extensional techniques, as those techniques can be directly applied to processing, including food processing.
I heard from several people that the Society would like to improve its outreach to industry. They held a roundtable discussion on industrial jobs. Because of my schedule, I was not able to attend. If any readers would like to share their experience, either leave a comment or send me an email. (As shown below, outreaches to industry are not new; the ’99 meeting also had a session on industrial rheology.)
Being a small meeting, the trade show was also small. Exhibitors included Anton Paar, TA Instruments, Malvern Instruments, ATS RheoSystems, and Thermo Haake (all the standard rotational rheometer manufacturers), Formulaction, Brookfield, Stony Brook Scientific, AIP, Xpansion Instruments, and RheoSense Instruments.

(comparisons to older meetings after the jump)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thanks (again)

So far, about twenty people have found the blog.  It took about six weeks before the first visitor stopped in.
I hope to resume my normal posting schedule soon, publishing new posts Sunday evening (U.S. time).  I'll even try a poll or two.

Tracking Google (Update)

One month ago, Google searches like "rheology blog" and "rheology blogger" weren't catching this blog.  It's now prominently displayed, so I guess there's no hiding.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I'd like to thank John for linking to this blog and also thank everyone who stopped by this week.  I just got back from the SOR Meeting, and I'll be posting on that soon.  Right now, I'm trying to put at least one entry up per week, and that usually happens on Sundays.
Talk to you later!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Limerick

Inspired by the poetry page referenced below, here is a limerick inspired by lab work this week…

In my lab I work with food.
I'm often in a good mood.
But a service report,
Of the rheometer sort,
Has me singing songs that are blued.

Rheology Research Center

This year's Society of Rheology meeting starts tomorrow in Madison, WI. The University of Wisconsin has a many professors who research different areas of rheology. Some of them have banded together to form the Rheology Research Center. For some rheology-based entertainment, stop by the poetry page to view works by Professors Bird and Lodge.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Jobs Report (October)

On October 3rd, there were 30 jobs found on using the keyword "rheolog*"  Back in September, there were 24 jobs listed on that web site.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Heraclitus & Nixon

Herbert Stein, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisors from 1972-74, once wrote about his attempt to use Greek philosophy to persuade Nixon of a particular course of economic policy.
In a smart-alecky kind of way, I said, quoting Heraclitus, "You can't step in the same river twice." He immediately responded, "Yes, you can, if it's frozen."

Introduction to Heraclitus

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is regarded as one of the distant godfathers of rheology, and it is a requirement that his name and motto "Everything Flows" appears in every rheology book. (I plead guilty, as the motto appeared in my graduate thesis.)

Heraclitus lived in Ephesus around 500 BC, and developed a doctrine that stated that everything is in a state of flux.  His most famous statement, as quoted by Plato, is that "[you] cannot step twice into the same river; for fresh waters are ever flowing in upon you."

Interestingly, as I was researching Heraclitus, I found that Bertrand Russell suggested the "everything flows" statement was apocryphal.  In addition, Heraclitus's Wikipedia page attributes the phrase to the 6th century pagan philosopher Simplicius of Cilia.

Source: A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell

Monday, September 21, 2009

Google update

Searching for the phrase "rheol world" now directs you to the blog.  This blog has been live since Sept 6th.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tracking Google

It's been a while since I wanted to be found on Google. But I'm interested these days when the blog will show up on the search engine site. In fact, one of the reasons I started the site is because it seemed there were no niche blogs about rheology out there. These days, when I type the phrase "rheology blog" into Google, I get this response…

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rheology & Pop Culture

I keep hoping that one day, there will be a CSI episode where the solution has something to do with rheology. In the meantime, I'll be temporarily satisfied with a scene from TNT's Leverage, which is a heist-of-the-week program. Follow this link to the show "The Two Live Crew Job" and forward to the 5:18 mark.

One of the characters holds a bomb, which uses a motion trigger in a flower vase. The quirky thief suggests using instant pudding to increase the fluid's viscosity in the vase, slowing the effectiveness of the bomb's trigger.

Rheometers & Advertising (#2)

I was working for the competition when TA launched the No Bad Science website. Over the years since, I have come to respect the ad. It was a perfect campaign. It raised questions about competitive products, had a great logo, cloaked their identity, and made the competition come up with a response. I got one of the T-shirts, and people would often ask me what "bad science" was.

(Update--added title)

Rheometer Advertising (#1)

This is my favorite rheometer ad, but, after all, I wrote it.

It's based on the sign that appeared in the 1993 World Series in Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium which said "Will pitch middle relief for food." The ad was released in 2002.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Favorite Rheology Definition

My favorite rheology definition comes from Transport Phenomena Volume 1, by Bird, Armstrong, and Hassager.  They write
...rheology includes Newtonian fluid mechanics at one end of the spectrum of subject material, and Hookean eleasticity at the other.  The region in between concerns the deformation and flow of all sorts of gunky and gooey materials. 
(Page 11)

Update --> fixed a typo

Jobs Report

On September 3rd, there were 24 jobs listed on Monster.Com found using the keyword search rheolog*.


My name is Eric Brown, and this is The Rheol World blog. The main purpose of this blog is to explore the field of rheology. What's going to appear here?

I don't know.

I have a few ideas, and I'm hoping to see what happens when I post here.

For those who are wondering, rheology is the study of the deformation and flow of matter. I entered the field while working on graduate studies in the Chemical Engineering department at Northwestern. For my project, I built an optical rheometer. Once I left school, I did a post-doc at the University of Texas in Austin. I then worked for the rheometer division of Anton Paar USA, first as a salesman, then as rheology lab manager. I currently work as a Senior Research Specialist for ConAgra Foods Inc. in Omaha, NE. This blog represents my opinions only and does not reflect the views of my employers, past or present.

The title of the blog is inspired by the 1985 song Welcome to the Real World by Mr. Mister. The chorus starts...Welcome to the real world / There's so much to learn