« April 27, 2021 | Main | April 29, 2021 »

April 28, 2021


I thought "Call Your Agent" was nasty funny but "Succession" makes the French series look like Mr. Rogers.


Crackling dialogue that makes you wince while you laugh.

As is so often the case with series like these, I'd never heard of any of the superb cast before with the exception of Brian Cox.

Ear candy for those whose sensibilities aren't easily disturbed.

Two seasons, 10 episodes each.

April 28, 2021 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Brazil Nut Effect

From Gizmodo:

We've all experienced that moment of dismay when we open a fresh can of mixed nuts, only to find loathed Brazil nuts at the top of the heap, with the tasty cashews and trusty peanuts all the way down at the bottom.

It's called the Brazil Nut Effect.

There's well-known physics behind why this happens, but it's a lot more complicated than you might think.

The primary mechanisms at work in the Brazil Nut Effect are percolation — in which small grains migrate down to the bottom of the pile between larger grains — and convection, in which larger grains push up toward the top of the pile.

That seems simple enough.

But there are plenty of other factors that contribute to the Brazil nuts' steady rise to the top.

That's why physicists are still studying these systems, to better understand how they work.

Gravity is pulling down on every single nut in the mix.

The nuts also interact with each other, jostling around in the container to produce friction and mechanical energy lost as heat.

Precisely how much friction depends on the size and shape of the nuts, among other factors.

If the large particles are much less dense than their surrounding particles, they rise to the top and stay.

If they are much denser than their surrounding particles, they also rise to the top and stay.

Those that have a small difference in density from the other particles tend to remain mixed.

And all this density dependence stops if the particles are in a vacuum.

It seems that the simple course that a Brazil nut takes through life is dependent not only on its surrounding nuts, and on its density, but on air pressure as well.

From Ars Technica:

New Study Sheds More Light on the 'Brazil Nut Effect'

Shape and orientation of a given Brazil nut is the key to its upward movement

Open a can of mixed nuts, and chances are you'll find a bunch of Brazil nuts topping the heap — whether that's a good or bad thing depends on how you feel about Brazil nuts. It's such a common phenomenon that it's known as the "Brazil nut effect" (though muesli mix also gives rise to the same dynamics of granular convection).

Now a team of scientists from the University of Manchester in England has captured the complicated dynamics that cause the Brazil nut effect (top), according to a new paper published in the journal Nature.

From a physics standpoint, those mixed nuts are an example of a granular material, like a sand pile. As I wrote at Gizmodo back in 2016, the primary mechanisms behind the Brazil nut effect are percolation and convection.

Percolation causes smaller grains to move through larger grains to the bottom of the pile, while convection pushes the larger grains toward the top. Complicating matters is gravity, pulling down on every grain, as well as the fact that every individual grain is jostling against all the others in the container, producing friction and mechanical energy (lost as heat).

Scientists know that the size and shape of the nuts determines how much friction is produced, and their density also plays a role. Large particles that are less dense than other particles around them rise to the top and stay there, as do particles that are denser than those surrounding them. If the difference in density between all the particles is too small, the particles will just stay mixed. Air pressure plays a role, since that density dependence isn't present if the particles (or nuts) are in a vacuum, as does the shape of the container.

In short, the phenomenon is a bit more complicated than it initially seems, which motivates physicists to continue to study the Brazil nut effect. But capturing what's going on with Brazil nuts as they mix in the can is a challenge. That's why the University of Manchester team turned to an advanced imaging technique, called time-lapse X-ray computer tomography, to follow the motion of all those jostling nuts as their container was repeatedly agitated.

The Manchester team placed a mixture of peanuts and Brazil nuts inside a shearbox, with the Brazil nuts initially at the bottom. They placed the shearbox inside a CT machine and conducted 181 scans as the shear box shook up the mixed nuts, with one shear cycle between each scan, to create the time-lapse video.

As expected, over time, the peanuts in the mix percolated down, while several larger Brazil nuts gradually rose upward. The Manchester team found it took about 70 shear cycles for the first Brazil nut to reach the top 10 percent of the bed of mixed nuts. Two more reached the same point after 150 shear cycles, while the rest of the Brazil nuts remained trapped at the bottom.

It turns out that the orientation of a given Brazil nut in the mix is the key to that upward movement. The nuts typically start out in a horizontal position, and they won't begin to rise to the top until they rotate toward the vertical axis. Once a Brazil nut reaches the surface, it will revert back to the horizontal position.

"Our study highlights the important role of particle shape and orientation in segregation," said co-author Parmesh Gajjar. "Further, this ability to track the motion in 3D will pave the way for new experimental studies of segregating mixtures and will open the door to even more realistic simulations and powerful predictive models. This will allow us to better design industrial equipment to minimise size segregation thus leading to more uniform mixtures. This is critical to many industries, for instance, ensuring an even distribution of active ingredients in medicinal tablets, but also in food processing, mining, and construction."

Read the original paper — titled "Size segregation of irregular granular materials captured by time-resolved 3D imaging," published April 19, 2021 in Nature —in its entirety here.

April 28, 2021 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bayer aspirin & Tylenol bottle top improvements


After years of forcing us to use those stupid and difficult child-resistant caps that required you to line up opposing tiny triangle apices perfectly and then exert enormous pinpoint lifting force — oftimes causing you to break a fingernail or two in the process — to pry them apart in order to gain access to aspirin or Tylenol, Bayer and Johnson & Johnson have decided to give us a break.

The new oversize bottle tops are relatively easy to open.

Way past time.

April 28, 2021 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Veluwemeer Aqueduct: Netherlands' Unique Water Bridge


From Interesting Engineering:

Opened in 2002, the Veluwemeer Aqueduct is a stunning work of architecture and engineering. Unlike other solutions for allowing vehicular traffic and waterborne traffic to pass over or under one another, engineers decided on a different approach: a water bridge.

Located over the N302 road, the aqueduct forms part of a lake of the same name. The road itself is interesting in and of itself, connecting mainland Netherlands to Flevoland — the largest artificial island in the world. 

Flevoland was constructed from reclaimed land in the region and is surrounded by three man-made lakes. This island is actually made up of two drained sections, Flevopolder and Noordoostpolder, which come together to make up the 374.5 square miles (970 square kilometers) province of Flevoland.

During the design of the unique bridge structure, engineers chose to construct the waterway over the N302 road, where around 28,000 vehicles pass each day.


How does the Veluwemeer Aqueduct water bridge work?

The Veluwemeer Aqueduct is a shallow 9.83 feet (3 m) deep water bridge that allows for small boats and other shallow-draft water vehicles to pass over the road safely and easily.

In addition to allowing boats passage over the road, pedestrian walkways can be found on both sides, allowing for foot traffic to also cross. The road itself also includes designated cycle lanes. 

Unlike drawbridges or other roadway structures, the water bridge design allows for constant traffic flow both on the road and over the aqueduct.

For most of the span of the N302 road across the lake, the road is raised above the waterline by a stretch of artificial embankments, but for the short 55.7 feet (17 m) span on the aqueduct, the road plunges, briefly, underneath the lake's surface. 

Interestingly, around 1,3212 feet (400 m) NW of the aqueduct, the N302 crosses the lake once again on a more traditional bridge structure.

Veluwemeer Lake (ps. "meer" is actually Dutch for lake) is one of fourteen "bordering lakes" in the area, all of which are really just a very long continuous body of water, that was created by not completely connecting Flevoland and the Northeast Polder to the mainland of Netherlands. 


The lake system was originally constructed to help regulate water levels and the groundwater table in the surrounding areas. Now established, the lakes are also important nature reserves (especially for water birds) and recreational areas for local residents.

The aqueduct was named after the lake it serves, while the lake was named after the Veluwe region of Gelderland, which is due south of the lake.

The aqueduct was built using 776,922 cubic ft (22,000 cubic m) of concrete, and steel sheet piling to both hold the weight of the water above the roadway and prevent sediment from bleeding onto the road.

Why was the Veluwemeer Aqueduct built?

During the planning phase for the project, drawbridges, ferries, and tunnels were considered as likely solutions to allowing the road to fully cross the lake. However, these were decided against, and the novel approach of building a short aqueduct over the road was selected. 

Because the N302 is a major highway, it was deemed unrealistic and inefficient to stop the flow of traffic using a drawbridge or ferry solution. A tunnel, an option also likely considered, would have required too much time and expense when compared to the aqueduct solution finally settled upon. 

A bridge, while a more typical solution to the problem, was deemed to be far too costly compared to the more reasonable cost of the aqueduct solution, at around $61 million. Given that the point at which it was to be built did not need to carry wide water traffic, its narrow aqueduct design was also deemed to be a wise choice.


While this structure does not set any records, it does stand as one of the shortest aqueducts in the world. Not to mention, one of the world's most interesting.

April 28, 2021 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Bicassa Head Plate Scalp Massager


From the website:

Made with ceramic fired in a kiln in Ishikawa Prefecture, the Bicassa Head Plate Scalp Massager by Ayura is a special head massager that you use like a brush on your scalp.

With its six points creating stimulation on the scalp and head area, the massage tool will improve circulation and skin quality.

An ideal way to relieve the stiffness, fatigue, and tension that accumulates in your head.

Features and Details:

  • Recommended for use 1-2 times per week
  • Material: ceramic
  • Instructions: Japanese



April 28, 2021 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

« April 27, 2021 | Main | April 29, 2021 »