Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Brain Candy Live!

Sunday night I went to see Adam Savage and Michael Stevens in Brain Candy Live at the Fox Theater in Detroit. I enjoyed the show and am glad I went.
Any incorrect science below is my faulty memory and probably not them telling us incorrect information. The show happened so fast, moving from one thing to the next, that it was difficult to take it all in.

I've admired Adam Savage for a while now. I, of course, was first introduced to him on Mythbusters many years ago. In recent years he has been a voice for makers. He is a maker and encourages others to make as well. I've been enjoying watching the videos on his website, Tested.

I don't think I've ever been to the Fox Theater before. It's an impressive building.

The show was entertaining and flashy. They talked about the science behind what they were doing, so while I did learn some new stuff, I knew much of the science. The focus of the show was air and the properties of air like the pressure of air on our bodies.

They used an air cannon to knock down an empty plastic bottle and then super sized it a couple times to shoot a large smoke ring over half way to the back of the theater.
Smoke is the product of combustion, but what they were using was from a "smoke machine", so technically it wasn't smoke. It was vaporized mineral oil, I believe they said. They also pulled out a box that had warm water and dry ice in it to show another "smoke that is not smoke", and some boiling water  to explain that the steam you see is not water vapor, because that's invisible, but what we see is the water condensing out of the air. Same thing with the dry ice.

They talked about how everyone knows that water boils at 100C or 212F, but that's only at sea level. I knew this bit of information, but never really thought about it being more than a few degrees off of that on a mountain or wherever. The Armstrong limit is the height at which water boils at body temperature. This is why the body "boils" if exposed in space.

They showed and explained the Bernoulli effect using a ping pong ball in a funnel. You aren't able to blow the ball out of the upright funnel because as the air flows past the ball it slows down and increases the pressure on the upper side of the ball.

Related to the Bernoulli effect is the Coanda effect. I guess the difference is mainly that the Bernoulli effect is a single stream/flow and the Coanda effect involves multiple flows. I'm still not sure exactly what the difference is. They used a leaf blower and beach ball to demonstrate the Coanda effect.
Coanda effect:
Bernoulli effect:'s_principle

The opposite of fire is a plant (photosynthesis), not ice because combustion is the chemical reaction of an energy source with oxygen to produce heat and light where a plant uses heat and light to produce energy and oxygen.

They showed acetone in bottles under pressure. When you release the pressure, you get clouds in the bottle because the acetone is easily vaporized. Add the pressure back and the vapor condenses. This is also related to how high pressure systems in the atmosphere means clear skies, because the clouds can't form in the pressure.

I think the part of the show I enjoyed the most is when Adam (and Michael) answered questions from the people in the audience.

He told a story about how he had a favorite teddy bear as a child and at one point got a larger "sibling" for his bear. He asked his father for a car for Gus, the larger teddy, and his dad went and made one using materials that he'd never used before. This was an important thing for Adam in that it showed him that if he really wanted to make something, that he could do so even if it was using materials that he's never used before. He went on to make his own juggling clubs when he was a bit older because he couldn't afford any.

He also told a story from Mythbusters that I hadn't heard before. On the show, Adam tells a story about, when he was young, wanting a sugary cereal and his mom saying "there's more nutrients in the box than in the cereal". They test it using various tests to determine the carbs, fat, calories and whatnot in it and determine that the cereal has more nutritional value. They commented something about one of them eating just the cereal for a week and the other just the box, but they don't actually do it. I guess they did try this experiment with mice. They had 3 cages of mice, each containing 3 mice. One cage had regular mouse food. One had only Fruit Loops and one had only the box. Everything was OK on Friday evening when they left for the weekend (mice don't need daily care and leaving them with the food and water in their cage is usually fine) but when they arrived Monday morning, they knew things had gone awry. The regular mouse food fed mice and the Fruit Loop fed mice were fine and happy. The third cage, given only cereal boxes to eat, had only one live mouse and two corpses. He said it was like the third mouse had "eaten the others like corn on the cob. There was the head, the rib cage and the tail. Everything else was gone". The one mouse had eaten the other two because there was no "food" in the cage. They were not allowed to show that experiment on TV. I think that it's pretty clear from that which has more nutritional value.

One really odd thing about this trip was driving on 96 around Detroit. It was Sunday evening, so the traffic wasn't heavy and I didn't have any problems. When you head toward Ann Arbor from downtown Detroit the speed limit on 96 is 55 mph. After a few miles it goes up to the normal-for-highways-around-here 70 mph. From where the speed limit was raised all the way to where we go by 275, the speed limit of those driving around me varied widely.  I set the cruise to 72 and absolutely flew by some people while I was also flown by by the people doing closer to 90. It just struck me as very strange. I don't see this on other highways around here.