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High voltage beer Answered

Whilst browsing the net doing some research, I came across this video.

Watch the fluid currents created by the electrical currents.


(And, please, no comments about wasting beer - it looks like it's only a lager.)


That is really impressive! The transitions between metastable discharges and chaotic breakdowns are really surprising. The convection currents make sense, since you're getting very localized heating. Good job on the research front!

Do you not think that the currents could be (literally) electrical? The high voltage could be splitting something in the beer into charge carriers, and they could be moving through the beer?

Hmmmm...theoretically, I suppose. I don't know quite enough about o-chem, but I don't think beer has a lot of electrolytes (ionic species); certainly no salts, and alcohol doesn't behave that way.

At this point I'd defer to the opinion of a professional chemist; hey, Lemonie!

Beer will have salts in it from the water, and naturally carbonates. I see de-gassing and mist formation, which are going to promote plasma formation.


Actually, I was thinking wrong - not generating ions, but shoving electrons around (like the way a static charge will bend the flow of a stream of water).

I have no idea what you just said but it sounds awesome!

Here, allow me (Google Translate does not list the language yet but I speak a little Kelsese):

That is really impressive! The transitions ({translator's note} Or, fact that the periods of activity change at all?) between periods of delicate balance and periods of stuff going all disorganized and breaking down are really surprising. The curents from heat exchange between areas with different temperatures within the beer makes sense, since you're heating a very small area. Good job on the research front!

Consider it a "colloquial" translation - dunno how terribly accurate it is. I'm still learning (there's hardly anybody to speak it with!) :P

Har, har! Thank you very much. Are you offering to become my flapper (Swiftian, of course)?

Haha! Yeah, sure, if you're cool with me touching your face with a dried bladder...

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH HIGH-PITCHED NOISES!!! The HV supply is emitting a constant tone at something like 18kHz (measured with my "sounds like 18kHz-ish" system), and GOODNESS it's annoying. Bleeding eardrums aside, very cool video!

O_O From the "Related" column...also very cool.

Embedding disabled by request. Watch on YouTube :-(

SLAC used to make beam trees regularly; they still give them out on rare occasions (retirements, emeritus appointments, etc.).

I don't suppose there's any way to make them without hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment, is there?

No. And...you've dropped a couple of zeros there, champ. The way the beam tree works is that the electron beam from the linac gets stopped in the block of lucite. That means the lucite is sitting there building up a whole lot of static electric charge. When they introduce a mechanical defect (hitting the side with a nail) there'a local discharge and heating at that point, that induces damage nearby, so the discharge and heating propagates along (warning, jargon alert!) bifurcating random-walk paths. The net result is the beautiful branching embedded in the otherwise perfect block of lucite.

Darn. :-(

There was a very cool article in PopSci about them last year. I was hoping you could nuke them in a microwave for a few hours or something...ah well.

eBay has some available for less than the apparent going rate...I may have to look into this.

I'm not impressed, excepting that at least one person has been annoyed by the "mosquito" aspect of this.... L

Indeed, as I watched the video, and before seeing any of the comments, I realized that this made a lot of sense.
As Kelseymh mentioned, the localized heating that would occur, and the fact that the molecule's electro-magnetic fields were being messed with created a long the path the HV electricity took, brought about the tiny bubbles that look like foam.

I noticed that most of the time the patch directed itself from the electrode to the side of the bottle cap, and that is was actually difficult to get it to go from electrode to electrode in the beer (ooo, a science project for a fair......what are the resistive and insulating properties of beer ;-)

Oh and about wasting beer, I have seen so many videos of parties and celebrations that end up with the participants pouring it on one another....a cap full is hardly waste :-) especially in the name of ~~coolness~~ science.

Cool indeed. Maybe the current makes lager taste better. Brown ale man myself.