Melting Snow and Ice

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 5th, 2014

Technology 101

When Temperatures fall below Freezing Liquid Water turns into Solid Water

You know what the best thing about water is?  You don’t have to shovel it.  Well, that, and its life-giving properties.  Let’s face it.  We couldn’t survive without the stuff.  We couldn’t grow food.  We even couldn’t live without drinking water.  So perhaps its life-giving properties is the best thing about water.  But a close second would be that thing about not having to shovel it.

When it rains water soaks into our green areas.  It runs off driveways and sidewalks into green areas.  And into streets.  Where it runs off into a storm drainage system.  Which takes it to a river or lake.  The rain lets our gardens grow.  And any excess water conveniently just goes away.  We may have a puddle or two to slosh through.  But even those go away without us having to do anything.  Water is nice that way.  As long as the temperature is above its freezing point.

When the temperature falls below the freezing point of water bad things start to happen.  Liquid water turns into solid water.  And hangs around for awhile.  Accumulating.  On our driveways, sidewalks, porches and roads.  It’s pretty much everywhere we don’t want it to be.  Making it difficult to walk.  And drive.  We slip and fall a lot in it.  The sun may melt it a little during the day.  Creating puddles of water where the snow once was. But when the sun sets those puddles freeze.  And become even more slippery.  Making solid water more dangerous than liquid water.  So a big part of making it through winters in northern climes, then, is transforming solid water back into the liquid form.

Even though Bourbon melts Ice Cubes Bourbon would be a Poor Choice to melt Snow and Ice

All material can be in three different stages.  It can be a solid.  A liquid.  Or a gas.  What determines the phase of this material depends on a couple of things.  Mostly temperature and pressure.  And the chemical properties of the material.  At ambient temperature and pressure material typically exists stably in one phase.  Water, for example, is stable in the liquid phase on an 80-degree summer day.  Allowing us to swim in it.  While on a freezing February day it is stable in the solid phase.  Which is why we hold the Winter Olympics in February.  The cold temperatures give us the best solid water conditions.

If we raise the temperature of water we can turn it from a liquid to a gas.  We could also do this by lowering the ambient air pressure.  Such as putting it into a vacuum.  For a liquid remains a liquid as long as the vapor pressure (the tendency for particles to escape from the liquid they’re in) of the liquid is less than the ambient air pressure.  If we lower the ambient air pressure below the vapor pressure of the liquid we can lower the boiling point of that liquid.  This is why different liquids have different boiling points.  They have different vapor pressures.  Oxygen has a very high vapor pressure and requires a high pressure and cold temperature to keep oxygen in a liquid phase.

When we take ice cubes out of the freezer and add them to a glass of bourbon they melt.  Because the ambient temperature outside of the freezer is above the freezing point of water.  So the solid water changes its phase from solid to liquid.  It would follow, then, that pouring bourbon on snow and ice would help melt it.  Of course we don’t do that.  For wasting bourbon like that would be criminal.  Not to mention costly.  Even if you used the cheap stuff.  Making bourbon a poor choice for melting snow and ice.

Salt dissolves into a Brine Solution that lowers the Melting Point of Snow and Ice

We see that a material will change its phase at different temperatures and pressures.  Which is good to know.  But it doesn’t help us to melt snow and ice during winter.  For we can’t lower the atmospheric air pressure to lower the boiling and melting points of water.  And we can’t raise the ambient temperature above the melting point of water.  If we could our winters would probably be a lot more comfortable than they are now.  So because when we can’t change the air pressure or temperature of the ambient environment the snow and ice is in we do something else.  We use chemistry to lower the melting point of snow and ice.  And the most common chemical we use is salt.

To melt snow and ice salt needs heat and moisture.  The moisture comes from the snow and ice.  Or from the humidity in the air.  The heat comes from the warmth of the earth or air.  Heated by the sun.  It also comes from the friction between tires and the road.  When salt comes into contract with water and heat it dissolves into a brine solution.  And this brine solution has a much lower melting point than water.  Which in turn lowers the melting point of the snow and ice it comes into contact with.  Allowing it to be in the liquid phase at temperatures below freezing temperatures.  Melting that snow and ice so it can run off like rain water.

The warmer it is when it snows the quicker salt will melt that snow.  While the colder it is the longer it takes to melt.  If it gets too cold (around 15 degrees Fahrenheit) salt proves to be ineffective.  In temperatures below 15 degrees Fahrenheit other chemicals work better.  Such as calcium chloride.  But calcium chloride is more costly than sodium chloride (salt).  Ambient temperatures, time of day, sunny or cloudy, wind, etc., all determine the chemical to use.  And the amount of chemical to use.  They consider all of these factors (and more) before sending those ‘salt’ trucks out on the roads.  Allowing us to drive in the worst of winters just as we drive in the best of summers.  It may take more time.  And there may be a little more cussing.  But we still go to work, take our kids to school, go shopping, etc., when it snows.  Thanks to chemicals.  Chemistry.  And the people that put those chemicals and that chemistry to work.

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FT205: “Liberals reconcile conflicting positions with imaginary logic.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - January 17th, 2014

Fundamental Truth

We have Complex Numbers because there is no such thing as a Square-Root of a Negative Number

If we graph AC voltage and AC current we would see two sine waves.  Graphs that rise from zero, reach a peak, fall back through zero, reach a nadir and then rise back up to zero.  Which repeats over and over.  And when we have voltage and current we get power.  If we pick a point in time on our AC voltage and current graphs we can multiply the value for the current by the value of the voltage to arrive at a value for power.  If these two sine waves are on top of each other we will get the highest value for power.  If one graph moves ahead or behind the other (so we can see two sine waves instead of one) we will have a value less than the highest power.

Picture two capital ‘S’s lying on their side.  So they look like one period of a sine wave.  And one is on top of the other so we only see one.  If we draw a vertical line through the highest point on these ‘sine waves’ both ‘S’s will have the same highest value.  Let’s call that value ‘3’.  Giving us a power of 9 (3 X 3).  Now let’s move one ‘sine wave’ to the right.  And look at that same vertical line.  With the one ‘sine wave’ moved they won’t have the same value at that point.  One will be less than the other.  Because the maximum value for that ‘sine wave’ occurs to the right of the maximum value of the other.  Let’s say the value for the moved ‘sine wave’ at that point is now 2.  Giving us a power of 6 (2 X 3).

When the power and current are 100% in phase we get our maximum power.  When they move out of phase we get a value of power less than the maximum.  Even though the voltage and current waves are unchanged.  The degree they are out of phase is called the phase angle.  And it’s a problem for power companies.  Because the typical electric meter only measures part of the power a customer uses.  The real or active power.  Not the reactive power.  And it’s a combination of the active and reactive power that gives us apparent power.  What the power companies produce.  In the ideal world (where the voltage and current sine waves are on top of each other perfectly in phase) reactive power is zero and apparent power equals active power.  Mathematically we express this with complex numbers.  Where there is a real part (the active part).  And an imaginary part (the reactive part).  Where i2 = -1.  Something that can’t happen in the realm of real numbers.  As there is no such thing as a square-root of a negative number.  But it is this use of imaginary numbers that let’s engineers build the world around us.

Criminalizing Cigarette Smoking plus Decriminalizing Marijuana Smoking Equals more Democrat Votes

Complicated, yes?  Few of us understand this.  But that’s okay.  We don’t have to.  Engineers are very smart people that can do remarkable things mathematically to model and build our world.  And when they do that world is a better place.  Which is all most of us care about.  So imaginary numbers may be a foreign concept to most.  But they provide a very ordered and sensical world.  Unlike other imaginary things.  Like unicorns.  Fairies.  And imaginary logic.

Liberals are high practitioners of imaginary logic.  On its face it seems like gibberish.  Illogical.  And nonsensical.  But like complex numbers it’s the combination of these nonsensical parts that serve to advance an agenda.  For example, in their ideal world everyone would abort an unplanned and/or unwanted child.  While also saying that same-sex couples should be able to adopt and raise children.  But how can a same-sex couple adopt a child if no unplanned or unwanted child is given up for adoption?  Having both of these positions is like the square-root of a negative number.  It’s just impossible.  Unless you enter the world of imaginary logic.  Where unfettered abortion plus same-sex adoption equals more Democrat votes.

Liberals have banned cigarette smoking wherever they could.  First there were no smoking sections in restaurants.  Then they banned smoking entirely from restaurants.  Once upon a time people could smoke in the workplace.  Then they forced them into smoking lounges.  Then outside of the building.  And finally a minimum distance away from the doorway.  Because smoking will kill you.  The people around you breathing in second-hand smoke.  And the people breathing in the stink you leave behind after smoking (third-hand smoke).  Smoke in the lungs is the number one killer in America. It is so horrible that no one should be able to smoke.  No one should be able to advertise smoking.  Even the cigarette packages shouldn’t be pretty as that may entice kids to start smoking.  But liberals have no problem with people smoking unfiltered marijuana cigarettes.  With marijuana they take the exact opposite position than they do with cigarettes.  Go ahead and smoke.  You aren’t hurting anyone.  Having both of these positions is like the square-root of a negative number.  It’s just impossible.  Unless you enter the world of imaginary logic.  Where criminalizing cigarette smoking plus decriminalizing marijuana smoking equals more Democrat votes.

Hollywood Liberals hate Cigarettes and Guns but love them in their Movies

Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein recently said on the Howard Stern radio show that he hates the National Rifle Association (NRA).  And is going to make a movie to destroy them.  For he thinks guns in America are a horrible thing.  He hates them.  And hates people having them.  But he loves them when they are in his movies.  And has become quite wealthy glorifying horrific gun violence.  If you are unfamiliar with some of the movies he produced you can look them up on IMDB.  Here are just a few that are filled with over the top and very graphic gun violence (as well as sword violence, knife violence, blunt force violence, etc.).  Django Unchained (2012).  Grindhouse (2007).  Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003).  Gangs of New York (2002).  Pulp Fiction (1994).  True Romance (1993).  To name a few.  This is how the View content advisory under Violence and Gore begins for Django Unchained: “Note that most of the violence in this film are [sic] over the top and very graphic.”

Harvey Weinstein is a liberal Democrat.  Who believes the only reason why people are using guns to shoot a lot of people is because those guns are for sale.  Cigarette ads and pretty packaging will entice kids to start smoking.  But showing wholesale violence like in his movies would never encourage a kid to pick up a gun?  For that matter, the next time you see one of these movies note how many people smoke in them (or see Alcohol/Drugs/ Smoking under View content advisory on IMDB).  Having Joe Camel on a cigarette package is going to get a kid to start smoking but seeing his or her favorite movie star smoking—and making smoking look so cool—isn’t?   Of course it is.  Far more than any cigarette ad is.  Just as the vicious gun violence in these movies is desensitizing some kids to gun violence.  And is the reason why young kids are having pretend gun fights at school.  Not because they are card-carrying members of the NRA.  But because they saw it in a movie.

Liberals believe cigarettes and guns are horrible things.  And no one should touch them.  But liberal movie producers fill their movies with cigarettes and guns.  Because they are so cool and fun to watch.  Having both of these positions is like the square-root of a negative number.  It’s just impossible.  Unless you enter the world of imaginary logic.  Where criminalizing cigarette smoking and gun ownership plus glorifying cigarette smoking and vicious gun violence (and sex and drugs) in the movies equals more Democrat votes.  Which is what imaginary logic is all about.  Democrat votes.  Which is why liberals can have conflicting positions on the same subject.  Because they don’t really care about the subject.  Or the people they harm.  They just want the power that comes with getting people to vote Democrat.

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