Saturday, February 17, 2007

An Experiment in Fluid Dynamics, or, How Not to Open a 4L Winebox

1. Place 4L box of wine, preferably, red, on top shelf of open kitchen shelving.

Note: While the shelf unit may be free-standing and empty, a richer experience may be anticipated if the unit is in a corner close to walls and a door, perhaps next to a worktop surmounted by a microwave oven or similar; and the lower shelves of the unit filled to capacity with crockery (bowls are particularly effective) , storage jars, and smaller kitchen appliances.

2. Raise arms above head, and remove cardboard seal from front fascia of winebox, creating an opening.

3. Insert fingers into opening and locate circular plastic valve unit set into foil winebag.

4. Grasping valve securely, pull through opening in front fascia.

5. When valve becomes jammed behind cardboard, pull firmly.

6. When button on front valve gets stuck on corner of cardboard, thus releasing a narrow but powerful stream of red wine over your upturned face, gasp in manner reminiscent of asphyxiating fish, and lower head to enable wine to pour over back of shirt. Do not release grip on valve.

Note: Shirt, though absorbent, will not measurably protect floor, but may be neatly wrung out later, or used in creative tie-dye experiment. (This is particularly effective, if you have had the forethought to choose a shirt of aesthetically pleasing hue, known to tone or contrast well with red wine stains.)

7. With head thus lowered and both arms still raised, use one hand to balance winebox and other to further manoeuvre valve, in order to fully pull it through the opening in the fascia, thus releasing button and stopping flow.

8. When flow unaccountably increases, vocalise loudly, taking care to keep head lowered as in #6. Vocalisation may take whatever form deemed appropriate to the situation: grunts and whoops may serve; shrieks are perhaps more appropriate for freshly chilled white wine, but research in this field is limited, and findings remain inconclusive; profanity may seem appealing, but in this writer’s view has no place in the realm of Science; clear enunciation of the name of a companion within auditory range is perhaps most practical, particularly as #10-12 require the services of an assistant.

Note: Gasping, or the involuntary and abrupt intake of air, is not recommended, due to the potential for an involuntary intake of wine into the trachea, with results which must necessarily be a distraction in the subsequent critical stages of the experiment. The spectacle, familiar in various wine-producing cultures, of the waiter imbibing a stream of the local elixir from a bottle or carafe raised high at arm’s length, requires rather more rehearsal and control than can be claimed in this early experiment.

9. At this point, take note of the fact that the valve is now in one hand, the winebox in the other, and the entire contents of the internal winebag, responding to gravity and atmospheric pressure, are now cascading over the shelf unit and your now dripping form, and bouncing exuberantly in all directions. This indicates the unlooked for separation of valve from bag, and the need for the services of the above-mentioned research assistant. Continuing to employ selected vocalisation technique, until you have elicited a proactive response from said assistant, (See #8) take a firm grasp on the winebox with both hands, and in an instinctive bacchanalian sequence of movement, transfer it first toward, and then away from, you, to end with the box resting on its back on one outstretched hand.

10.At the completion of this manoeuvre, atmospheric pressure will continue to drive the remaining liquid from the winebag, but the earth’s gravitational pull will initially cause it to be contained inside the winebox. However, as the perhaps misleadingly titled ‘winebox’ is not, in fact, designed to contain liquid unassisted, the continuing play of the previously cited forces will fairly rapidly generate a minor vinous fantasia from the now compromised seams and edges of said winebox. If you have continued vocalising through #8-9, your research assistant should now be on hand to observe and assess the situation, in preparation for practical engagement.

Note: Since this is your first foray into applied fluid dynamics (outside the environs of the shower or swimming pool), it is important to remind yourself that there is no right or wrong way to respond. Be spontaneous! Exercise the mysterious creative power of human ingenuity, a power which has engendered some of the most felicitous scientific discoveries, and wonders of civil engineering, even as it continues to baffle scientists!

In consideration of likely feelings of physical fatigue, or the onset of temporary hysteria engendered by the excitement of scientific enquiry compounded by the exercise of an unfamiliar breathing technique, you should now delegate management of the winebox, indeed, of the remaining stages of the experiment, to your research assistant.

11. Having assumed this responsibility, your assistant may elect to adopt a supine position directly beneath the flow, in a manner reminiscent of the waiters cited in #8. As the stream widens and diverges, you may perhaps choose to do the same.

Note: Disregard anxieties that your action might compromise your findings, as there are a number of features of your laboratory space, and, indeed, of this experiment, which may already have invalidated it for the purposes of publication in scientific journals. You can address these when evaluating this important initial work, and preparing your grant application.

Alternatively, your research assistant might choose to transfer the winebox to a large, liquid-proof vessel, and/or attempt to reinsert the errant valve. While this course has much to recommend it, it would be advisable to ensure that the winebox remains on its back.

12. Once you are both satisfied that all is complete, you have a number of options:

  • Ignoring the drips and streams of claret on every surface, pour yourself a glass of wine and retire to another room to write up your notes.
  • Ignoring the drips and streams of claret on every surface, pour yourself a glass of wine and retire to another room to watch the DVD you set up twenty minutes ago .
  • Get out the cleaning materials: it’s going to be a long night.


Keefieboy said...

Ah, it was an experiment! Now I understand.

nzm said...


J and I wish that we'd been there!

But then again, the kitchen cleaning duties make us appreciate that we weren't! :-)

nzm said...

I.e. to clarify, the kitchen cleaning duties on this specific occasion!

Macthomson said...

Before my Liquor License expired (I haven't had the courage to apply for a further renewal, the last extension having involved a trek into the desert to the competent department of the Abu Dhabi Criminal Investigation Division)I feared that something like this might happen every time I came home with a five-litre box from Spinneys. I doubt if my notes would have been as hilarious as those of MamaDuck!

Grumpy Goat said...

"The use of sharp objects to open this product is not recommended."

Please note this piece of sage advice before further experimentation.

Mme Cyn said...

And this is why Mme Cyn drinks champagne. Stoppered bottles with wire cages on top.

Postmodern Sass said...

I envy you having a research assistant for these arduous tasks. Can I borrow him or her next time I have new furniture that needs to be put together? Thank you for adding me to your blogroll. You are on my linky love page.

Keefieboy said...

Mme Cyn: you have to ask The Duck about her near-death experience with a champagne cork at a certain American/Italian restaurant in Liverpool many years ago (but don't tell her I told you!).

Jin said...

I had a good larf reading that mamaduck! Grandma is a dab hand at those wine box thingies - comes with years of practice - so I can send her over if need be?!!
Years ago, when Spadge was a sprog, grandma & grandad used to take him to their house for the weekend. That was until he came home one sunday night & told us he'd got a really bad headache. Upon interrogation, we discovered the little bugger had helped himself to grandmas box of wine, which was perched on the kitchen counter. It had a faulty valve, so it Spadge stood underneath it & let it drip down his throat. He was only 4yrs old!