Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Product of the Moment: Old Viscosity Beer

Featured today is Old Viscosity Ale, brewed by the Port Brewing Company in San Diego, CA.  Their web site states "Code named by our brewers-'The Big Black Nasty,' this is monstrous dark ale is brewed to no particular style. Thick and sludgy like oil from the crankcase of a wheat threshing combine, Old Viscosity blurs the boundaries of Porter, Stout, Old Ale and Barleywines."  

Sadly, this beer is not available in Nebraska, so I won't be able to verify the viscosity myself.  (My interests are purely scientific, of course.)  The beer is available in CA, AZ, WA, and CO, and in the metro areas of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Physics Today Articles (May '10)

I'm getting to this a bit late, but the May 2010 issue of Physics Today had a few rheology-related articles--

Registration is required to read the latter two articles, but SOR members can read the articles for free.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Unbreakable (for 10 years)

The plastic pieces shown here come from our kitchen light fixture.The plastic fractured when I was replacing some light bulbs.  I was wondering how the parts were originally installed, considering how fragile the plastic was.

The answer came when I picked up parts at a local hardware store.  The new plastic is much more flexible than the old plastic.  I was able to bend the plastic to fit it into the shopping cart.  According to the big print on the label, this material is "virtually unbreakable."  The fine print says that the warranty is good for 10 years.  The original plastic was probably installed when the house was first built, 16 years ago.  As the plastic aged, it became more fragile.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rheology Course Updates

The Hydan rheology course and the University of Minnesota rheology course were held this month, so I've removed the links.  If you're looking for basic rheology courses, the rotational rheometer companies hold classes.  I haven't been involved in any courses for the last five years, so I don't know how good they are.  Here are some links to the training pages--

Monday, June 21, 2010

Elvis was a Chemical Engineer

In the movie Clambake, Elvis Presley played a wealthy chemical engineer who is the son of a wealthy oil baron.  As part of the plot, Elvis develops a new varnish that helps him win a boat race and impress the girl.  According to the book ReAction!: Chemistry in the Movies by Griep and Mikasen, the varnish, called GOOP in the movie, is based on a real varnish that dissolves in water.

Sadly, movie this appears to be one of Elvis's poorer efforts.  Its main sin is that the songs are forgettable; after all, one doesn't watch an Elvis movie for the plot.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Link of the Moment: Rheology School

Today's link is a consulting business from the UK called the Rheology School.  The business, run by Neil Cunningham, offers sample testing, consulting, classes, rheology glossary, and an independent rheometer buying guide.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What a Drag it is Getting Old

Most of my recent work has involved concentric cylinders and vanes, so loading a sample is a snap.  Recently, I've had to run some parallel plate samples, and I realize that I'm over the proverbial hill, and accelerating downward.  It's harder than I remember to focus on the sample to make sure the gap is completely filled.  It's just another sign that bifocals are in my future.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Question of the Moment

It has nothing to do with rheology, but this question needs to be asked.

The Big 12 has ten members, and the Big 10 has 12 members...what's up with that?

Changing the Hot Dog

Back in February, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for the hot dog to be redesigned, as the current shape is a choking hazard for young children.  The current shape is the same size as a young person's throat and can get stuck and cause asphixiation. 
Now, Eugene Gagliardi has invented a "The Guard Dog," a device that scores hot dogs along the axis, so the meat breaks up during chewing.

Disclosure: I work for ConAgra Foods, which sells Hebrew National Hot Dogs.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rheological Selling Point?

I took my 10 year old car (130,000 miles) in for an oil change recently.  The manager tried to sell me the high mileage oil, telling me "it expands to fill the cracks in older engines."  I turned him down, as I am an aficianado of NPR's Car Talk, and the two guys on that show have said that those products are a waste of money.  (The high mileage oil would have added $20 to my bill.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Business Lessons

This last post reminds me of two business lessons from my time in the rheometer industry.

  1. If you're not making money (i.e., no profits), someone's patience will eventually run out.
  2. If you're not making enough money (i.e., profits don't grow at a reasonable rate), someone's patience will eventually run out.
Anyone else with words of wisdom?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Reologica AB News

This item is several months old, but I only heard about it this weekend.  Reologica AB, the last independent rheometer maker, is "in administration" as of March 23rd.  The announcement is on the website at  Malvern has purchased some of the remaining assets, and will continue to service Reologica instruments.  As mentioned at the top, all current rotational rheometer companies are now divisions of larger conglomerates.  This is a process that has been going on since the mid '90's and is finally finished.  The rheometer brands have been distributed as follows...

My condolences to all who lost their jobs.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Plastics Anecdote

At my previous employer, I once had to pick up some PMMA for some internal testing.  So, I went to a local big box hardware store, walked up to the service desk and said "where do you keep the polymethyl methacrylate?" Recognizing the blank looks, I amended, "I mean plexiglass."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Quotation of the Moment: Brain Donors

This quotation comes courtesy of a search on for the word "viscosity."

"No?" Flakfizer doesn't know the MEANING of the word "No!" We're also a little fuzzy on "panaglutin" and "viscosity."

The word "panaglutin" does not appear on, and Google suggests the word "panagluttinin" instead.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Viscosity Dot ??? takes you to Norcross, a manufacturer of shell cups and viscosity control equipment.  Other extensions, like edu or org, are not in use.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jobs Report (June)

A keyword search of rheolog* on on June 1st showed 41 positions available.  The medical devices company that has been tracked since January is still offering positions.  It's been my experience that jobs that are available for that long are looking for very specific people (and not finding them).  In my last job hunt, there was a company that advertised a specific materials science job for the year that I was looking.  I had to keep checking my notes to make sure I had already applied for the position.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Regular Readers

John informs me that I have 8 subscribers through the RSS feed.  I was not aware of this bounty, and I wanted to let you all know (collectively) that I appreciate your support.