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Pros

Virtually foolproof brewing

Good range of beers

Hopper does make a difference to the taste

Cons

Some build quality issues

Limited selection of Hopper beer

Takes up a lot of fridge space

Our Verdict

The Pinter 2 improves on the original in various ways and – with the addition of the Hopper – makes some tasty beer. Build quality issues have been a thorn in Pinter’s side, but the system can work well and couldn’t make brewing any simpler.

The Pinter 2 arrived roughly one year after the original was released. It’s an all-in-one system that includes everything you need to make 10 pints of fresh beer.

That’s because you make the beer in the Pinter and it stays in there once fermentation is finished. You use the handle on the front to pour a pint, and the whole process is so simple that anyone can do it.

In order to make it almost foolproof, there’s a companion app which includes step-by-step videos that show you exactly what to do, helps you keep track of what stage your beer is at and provides notifications when you need to do something.

It means that if you follow the instructions to the letter, you’ll end up with some tasty beer after a couple of weeks.

I originally wrote this review in January 2023, and have updated it to reflect another nine months or so of use, and to add my thoughts on the new collab with Yeastie Boys: Bigmouth Remixed, and the revised pricing.

Features & design

Metal body

10-pint capacity

Hopper allows you to add hop oil during fermentation

The Pinter 2 looks a lot like the first-generation model, but it’s had quite a few improvements. For a start, there’s the ‘Hopper’. It’s a valve on the rear to which you can attach a bottle of hop oil when prompted during the fermentation process, adding aroma to the beer which you otherwise wouldn’t get.

The original Pinter was constructed from plastic, but now the outer body is shot-blasted aluminium with a plastic inner vessel. Usefully this has a two-piece construction, split at the fill line. Because contrasting colours are used, it’s easy to see the line without rotating the Pinter to find the mark (as you did with the original).

The metal is one of the main reasons for the increased price, but there’s also a completely new tap design. Again, it looks the same, but the mechanism has been redesigned and now comprises a removable section that reaches almost to the back of the Pinter. Inside it is a coiled tube that the beer passes through under pressure (from the natural carbonation) to deliver your pint.

This also means that, unlike the Pinter 1, the second-gen version doesn’t require you to turn the carbonation dial on the rear. And that’s a big benefit for two reasons. First, you’re not introducing unwanted oxygen into your beer and second, you retain the carbonation so your beer stays ‘fizzy’ and doesn’t go flat before you’ve drunk it all.

Previously, you’d have to drink the 10 pints within a week or 10 days – a sort of workaround to avoid those problems – but now Pinter says the beer stays fresh for up to 30 days.

Brewing

There’s a decent choice of beer styles, from lagers to ales and fruity IPAs. There’s also cider, if you fancy a change. And Pinter has regularly added a little to the selection with a stout and – towards the end of 2023 – two beers developed in collaboration with Yeastie Boys.

Each of these beers arrives as a ‘fresh press’ along with yeast, a bottle of purifier and – on selected beers – a Hopper bottle which contains hop oil. The box is designed to fit through most letterboxes, so you don’t need to be home.

Using the instructions in the app, the first step is to use the purifier to sanitise all the bits and pieces: successful brewing relies on cleanliness.

Next, you fill up the Pinter, with cold water and add the fresh press. It’s recommended to use a sanitised jug to fully mix the contents with some water. This avoids a situation where the press ends up in the brewing dock at the bottom and the resulting beer doesn’t taste right.

With some of the thicker presses, such as Space Hopper, you may even need to warm the bottle on a radiator first, and slosh some warm water around the bottle to get the entire contents out.

Then it’s simply a case of pouring in the supplied yeast, attaching the dock and placing the Pinter upright at room temperature for the number of days specified.

Pinter is a bit ambitious with some of the timings, and the higher ABV beers should be left for the longer brewing times – or better still, a full week – to ensure fermentation is complete before conditioning the beer.

If you’re brewing a ‘Hopper’ beer, then just before you remove the dock after fermentation, you unscrew the cap over the valve and screw in the bottle of hop oil. Its foil seal is automatically pierced as you do this. Once the oil is dispensed, the bottle is removed and the cap replaced on the Pinter 2.

The conditioning process simply means removing the dock (which contains most of the spent yeast) and placing the Pinter in the fridge. It’s marginally shorter than the Pinter 1 so may fit in your fridge with the tap facing out. In an American-style fridge, it fits nicely.

But if yours is smaller, you’ll have to place the Pinter 2 sideways, which usually takes up a full shelf in a standard 600mm-wide fridge, space you probably can’t spare.

After a week or so conditioning, the beer’s ready to tap. With the Pinter 2, that is a foamy event, as the beer is under high pressure at that point. You can turn the dial to release some pressure, but then you lose some carbonation for subsequent pints.

As there’s no cooling built in, you’ll need to keep the Pinter 2 in the fridge, or somewhere cold, until the beer’s finished.

What does the beer taste like?

Brewing beer is a hobby, something people do for fun. And that’s one of main reasons to buy a Pinter 2. Yes, the beer is cheaper than at your local pub, but in my experience at least, it doesn’t always taste better.

Partly that’s because you need to drink those 10 pints while the beer’s still fresh. The company behind the Pinter talks about ‘fresh’ beer a lot, and it’s certainly true that most beer tastes best once it has finished conditioning, and deteriorates over time – especially very hoppy beers.

Chances are that it won’t take long to drink 10 pints, especially if you have thirsty mates, so it’s not such an issue if they’re drained within a couple of weeks of the first tapping.

After that, you’ll notice it doesn’t quite taste as good, and it won’t be as carbonated.

However, when the beer is at its best, which is usually around three weeks after the brew day, it can be very good. Obviously, taste is a subjective thing, but of the beers I’ve brewed, Tropical Debate – the new NEIPA which uses the Hopper – is one of the better ones.

It doesn’t taste obviously like a commercial NEIPA because it lacks bitterness of the usual American hops used, but it does have a nice aroma, a light colour and a lot of fruity notes. Though it has a nominal ABV of 5.6%, my iSpindel – a Wi-Fi hydrometer – reported closer to 6.5%, and it certainly tasted like it.

These gadgets aren’t totally accurate, but if you want to be able to monitor the specific gravity, and temperature of your beer while it ferments, it’s worth the £35 or so investment. (You’ll find pre-built iSpindels for sale on ebay, and they work despite the metal outer shell of the Pinter 2.)

Other beers weren’t as impressive. Pinter sent me a bottle of Stonebridge, another Pinter 2 exclusive, ahead of the launch and it didn’t taste like a Belgian blonde: more of an English ale. That could have been down to short brewing times, and I’ve heard reports from others that it’s rather good.

As of November 2023, Stonebridge has disappeared from the shop entirely, as has the wheat beer, the sour and Vienna lager.

Almost all of the beers have that ‘homebrew’ taste, and it’s something I’ve been unable to avoid, even when using campden tablets to remove the chlorine and chloramine from tap water.

One of tastiest brews was a limited-run red ale made for the 2023 World Cup called Welsh Red. Fortunately, it has made a welcome return to the shop in late 2023.

I also brewed the latest Bigmouth Remixed, a session IPA. It’s called Remixed and not simply Bigmouth because – presumably – using the exact malts and hops in the real Bigmouth would make the fresh press prohibitively expensive.

As ever, I opted for the extended fermentation times and left it to condition in the fridge for a full two weeks. The result is perhaps the best I’ve had from the Pinter 2, with a well-carbonated really fruity-tasting beer that’s enhanced by the hop oil that comes with this particular press, and no ‘homebrew’ taste at all.

Jim Martin / Foundry

If you are tempted by a Pinter 2, it’s worth reading these tips and tricks and doing all of them as you’ll end up with a better-tasting beer. The only one you can realistically ignore is cold crashing, so long as you don’t care about your beer being hazy. In fact, a lot of craft beer is hazy these days anyway, and is sold as a benefit.

Build quality

It would be remiss of me to not mention some build quality issues I noticed, as well as those reported by other owners online. My test unit was missing one its rubber feet when it arrived and it was nowhere to be found in the box.

One of the rubber strips on the metal front plate immediately fell off when I first removed it, too. As there are no feet or standoffs on the back, the finish became scratched as soon as I put it in the sink to fill the Pinter 2 for sanitising.

Others have suffered more serious issues, such as where the glue holding the rear metal section (containing the handle) to the main body has failed, causing the beer-filled section to fall off and hit the floor (or smash a hole in their bathtub). Pinter dealt with this by providing replacements for all units shipped up until 19 April 2023.

There’s also now a full list of what setting to use for the carbonation dial when fermenting for each beer.

And to its credit, the Greater Good – the company behind the Pinter 2 – has excellent customer service  (there’s live chat in the app) and has sorted out all customers who have experienced these and other problems.

Also, the new metal dock is much easier to attach to the Pinter 2 and, despite being a little more wobbly than the original (which the company says is perfectly normal) has worked fine for all the brews I’ve made so far.

In fact, I’ve had no problems whatsoever, and I’ve now brewed over half a dozen times with it.

Pricing & availability

As a startup, Pinter is only available in the UK currently. It originally cost £149 in any colour, apart from the Pure Finish chrome model which was £209. That’s no longer sold.

Now, it’s £129, but has been on sale at various points during the year with a summer promotion that brought it down to just £79. At the time of updating this review in November 2023, it was on sale for £99.

You can get one free fresh press with the Pinter 2, but this also signs you up to the Fresh Beer Club which, after the first month is £16.99 per month. You get one fresh press for that, and free delivery (which is usually £2.50) and you can increase your subscription to up to four fresh presses per month.

The alternative is to buy fresh presses from Pinter’s online shop as and when you want them, with prices ranging from £13 to £20.

That means your pints cost £1.30 to £2 each, not including the cost of the Pinter itself.

You can also buy what’s called a ‘Co-Pinter’ which is a Pinter without the dock. These cost £79. With a Co-Pinter, you can brew another Fresh Press while your other Pinter is full of a previously made beer.

Verdict

At the full price of £129, the Pinter 2 isn’t as giftable as the Pinter 1 was at £85, but any recipient is sure to be very happy with it.

The Fresh Presses can appear a little too expensive considering they only make 10 pints: similar homebrew kits (such as Woodefordes and Muntons) make 40 pints for considerably less per pint.

However, as mentioned already, the Pinter is more about the hobby than the cost. You’re spoiled for choice if you walk into just about any UK supermarket these days and look in the craft beer section of the beer aisle.

Where the Pinter excels is the system as a whole: it’s easier and more convenient than traditional homebrew kits – mainly because they force you to package your beer after fermentation is complete, but the Pinter 2 doesn’t.

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How To Create Depth Of Field In Photoshop (Easiest Way)

If you lack the depth of field you were hoping for after importing your photos from the day, you can call on Photoshop to create a realistic depth of field with a few easy steps. This effect is easy to go overboard with, so make sure to be sparing with the blur adjustments for the most realistic look.

But hey, art is subjective, so go crazy with it if that’s your style.

Let’s dive in.

Video Tutorial

How To Create Depth In A Photo In Photoshop

Depth of field in photography is how much of an image can be in focus due to the aperture setting. The wider your aperture, the less can be in focus, and therefore the shallower your depth of field.

There are many ways of enhancing the depth of field in a photo in Photoshop, including using the Blur Tool. However, I will show you a much easier way to do this.

Using the new Depth Blur neural filter, you can simulate the depth of field effect created with a camera. Besides, the results can be very realistic, depending on how you adjust the filter settings. The customization options are many, as you will see next.

Step 1: Convert Your Image To A Smart Object Step 2: Open The Neural Filters Gallery

Scroll down the neural filters gallery and choose Depth Blur. Remember that this is a Beta filter, which means it is under development, so sometimes it doesn’t work as great as you would expect.

After downloading the Depth Blur neural filter, you need to activate it, and you can start using it right away. 

Step 3: Set The Focal Point

The first thing to do is to select your focal point. This controls the areas in your image that will be in focus versus what areas will be out of focus.

To do this, you have two options.

The first option is to let Photoshop automatically select the focal point for you.

This way, Photoshop determines what will be in focus and what will not be. This is an excellent option when you have a person in your photo or an object highlighted in the image scene.

Below you can see how this setting worked out for my photo.

You can also set custom focal points manually.

Once you create your focal point, you will notice your image will change. It will be blurred in the areas outside the focal point area.

Step 4: Set The Focal Range

The next thing to do is to set the focal range. 

Focal range determines how much of your photo will be sharp and how much will be blurred. The lower the focal range, the more blurry areas will be in the areas outside the focal point.

Keeping areas in focus while leaving others out of focus in real life has to do with a camera’s aperture. For example, more areas outside the focal point will be out of focus or blurry when using a wide aperture.

The Depth of field filter mimics the effect caused by the camera. For example, When the focal range is set to zero, everything that is not within the focal point range will be blurred. And when the focal range is 100, everything outside the focus area will be sharp. At other values, parts of your image will appear in focus while others will appear less in focus. 

I recommend you use higher values for Focal Range because it creates a more realistic and natural effect, similar to what can be achieved with a real camera.

Focal Range set to 100 – both car and background look sharp Focal range set to zero – the background is blurred while the car is in focus. Focal range at 50 – the car is on focus, and the background is mildly blurred

Step 5: Adjust The Blur Strength

The next setting available is Blur Strength, where you can adjust the amount of blur applied. This will depend on the style you are going for. However, remember that too much blur makes your image look unrealistic. On the other hand, using a low amount of blur will make your effect look more realistic.

Blur Strength at 22 Blur Strength at 90

Step 6: Adjust Haze

Another setting you can adjust is Haze.

This works like an additional effect setting to your depth of field effect, simulating a haze in your scene. The effect is more suitable for photos of foggy days or beach photos to make the environment seem more appealing and make the picture stand out more. However, on images of sunny days, this is not a good choice.

Below you can see how this effect worked out for my photo.

Haze at 36

(Optional) Step 7: Use The Adjustment Sliders To Correct Color

Moving down the Depth Blur sliders, you can find options to alter the entire photo. For example, changing a photo’s colors from warm to cool.

Although changing these sliders may seem a good idea, it’s better to use the Depth of Field filter for its primary purpose. Besides, you can find the equivalent to these sliders in Photoshop main workspace using the adjustment layers or Camera Raw, for example.

Step 8: Apply The Effect

After editing your depth blur, you need to choose the output method.

Choosing Output Depth Map only, you create a version of your image based on the blur levels in grayscale.

That can be useful for many purposes, including refining the depth blur effect later.

The darker the areas, the more in focus your object is. The lighter the area, the more blurred the area is.

You can also opt for the other listed output options at the bottom of the neural filters panel.

I wanted a very subtle blur for the final image to make it appear as realistic as possible with a wide-angle lens. I set the settings as followings:

Focal range = 63

Blur Strength = 22

No Haze nor additional effects applied

Before After

As you saw here, creating depth of field in Photoshop is very easy, and you can do it in minutes. The Depth Blur neural filter has been a great help to me when I couldn’t achieve the depth of field I wanted with my camera. I’m sure you can also create stunning depth-of-field effects using this filter once you experiment with the settings it has to offer!

The Worst Way To Inlay

Creating inlaid wood furniture is a painstaking process. Cutting shapes into the front of a drawer isn’t the hard part, though; it’s crafting pieces of a contrasting wood that fit precisely into those spaces. Since the beginning of furniture making, people have been looking for shortcuts. Today, machine-cut inlays are available, but in the past the preferred approach was to fill the patterns with a paste that would harden in place.

Element: sulfur

Project: furniture inlay

Time: 4 hours

One of the less inspired ideas came in the late 1700s, when someone started pouring molten sulfur into his carvings. In the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you will find a spectacularly detailed and beautiful chest made in 1779 in Pennsylvania by a pair of Swiss craftsmen, members of a short-lived tradition of sulfur-inlay furniture making.

Achtung! Theodore Gray is a scientist trained in lab safety procedures. Do not attempt this experiment at home. For more information on Gray’s scientific pursuits, visit his website.

Though sulfur may have had a good case on paper—it melts easily and hardens to a pretty yellow—there’s good reason the tradition was short-lived: Sulfur is nasty at a biblical level, it being another name for the brimstone with which evil was said to be punished. If you heat powdered sulfur gently, it melts into an amber-colored liquid that can easily be poured into complex shapes, if you can stand the suffocating fumes—and if it doesn’t catch fire spontaneously, as it will at a temperature somewhat higher than its melting point, burning with the loveliest purple flame.

The fumes are sulfur dioxide, best known as one of the components of smog. Being near a pot of molten sulfur, it rapidly becomes difficult to breathe. If you want to find out what asthma feels like, doing sulfur inlay is probably a decent approximation (and if you have asthma, you should never be around sulfur dioxide fumes, as they can trigger a severe attack). This is not something you want to do in the house, especially if you want to continue living in that particular house. Oh, and after you work with sulfur for a while, it reacts with the bacteria on your hands and forms hydrogen sulfide, giving you the smell of rotten eggs.

After filling the grooves, the sulfur cools rapidly to a crystalline solid that can be planed, chiseled and sanded smooth, resulting in a golden yellow inlay. It will turn white after a century or so as the sulfur ages. Bubbles and gaps are the primary way to identify an antique pure sulfur inlay, so when I tried this myself (in the name of historical investigation, of course), I didn’t go out of my way to fix them. This is, after all, meant to be a quick-and-dirty method.

Take my word for it, there are few materials less pleasant to work with than sulfur. Resins, paints, chalk paste, plastic—all have been used to do furniture inlay with success. No one knows why sulfur was first used, but it’s clear to me why it isn’t anymore.

Author’s note: Thanks to Mark Anderson and Jennifer Mass of Delaware’s Winterthur Museum for the historical and scientific information about sulfur inlay.

This story has been updated. It was originally featured in the January 2005 issue of Popular Science magazine.

Avadon 2: The Corruption Hd Review – The Role

Two-and-a-half years after the first story made it to the iPad, Spiderweb Software has finally launched its sequel, Avadon 2: The Corruption HD, in the App Store…

Design

The graphics pay close attention to detail, even though you are too far away to see much. Paved walkways have various smooth rocks, hardwood floors are covered with floral patterned rugs, and even at a distance you can see that your hero wears a sheathed sword or archer’s bow.

A mini map is displayed in the upper right corner of the screen. You can use this map to quickly select a location to travel to if it is a long ways off. The map will show you areas that you’ve uncovered and significant locations to travel to.

You main character’s abilities are listed at the bottom of the screen. Your main and secondary attacks are on the far left. With spells and inventory items on the far right. When in combat, the peace symbol in the middle will turn into weapons, showing that a battle is in play.

The game also comes with a very comprehensive how-to guide that you can access by tapping the question mark next to the Save icon at the bottom of the screen in the character’s action bar. This detailed instruction manual will help with anything from creating a character to using items in combat.

Gameplay

Just to let you know, you do not need to play The Black Fortress in order to enjoy this game. They act as two separate stories with the first only being referenced at the beginning of the second.

To move, tap a spot on the screen. You can scroll along the ground by swiping in any direction. This will move your view to some other spot on the screen. Then, tap the ground to make your character walk.

If you see something on the ground, you may want to pick it up. It could be worth something. Tap the grab icon at the bottom of the screen. It looks like a hand reaching out. If you find weapons or armor, you can immediately equip them. If you find sellable items, keep them in your inventory so you can sell them to vendors you meet along the way. You will likely pick up a lot of junk, so don’t fill you bags too full or you will run out of space for the good stuff.

You will have missions that you must accomplish to further the story along. There will always be one main mission, but you may also pick up side quests or raid dungeons for extra money and loot. Your current quests are listed in your journal alongside any special items you may have and the codex of things you learn from the game.

When in battle, select the weapon you wish to use and attack the enemy by tapping it. You may be too far away at first and will need to move forward. Some weapons let you make ranged attacks. Different classes have different weapons and abilities. As you level up, you will learn new skills and increase efficiencies in abilities.

The Good

Just like its predecessor, this game reminds me of playing a campaign of Dungeons and Dragons. Players are asked to become deeply involved in the characters’ stories, meeting new people, killing enemies, and fighting for a cause. Many characters you meet will have multiple responses. The way the story ends is reflected by the responses you give to characters through out the game.

The Bad

My first answer is that nothing is wrong with this game. It is perfect. However, those readers that are new to the old school RPG genre may have a different opinion. If you aren’t familiar with the way classic RPGs are built, the user interface may seem tedious and even confusing. That isn’t really the fault of this game, but more of the genre itself.

Value Conclusion Related Apps

If you haven’t already, be sure to pick up Avadon: The Black Fortress HD and Avernum: Escape from the Pit HD for your next RPG fix.

Will you be investing in this Avadon sequel?

The Safest Way To Travel During The Pandemic

Summer is in full swing, and nobody would blame you if a trip to the beach or your favorite city is tempting you. But even if you are itching for a vacation outside of your living room, there’s a few things to consider—namely where you’re going and how exactly you’re going to get there.

Riskiest: Any kind of shared travel

“Buses, trains, and airplanes—kinds of transportation where you’re with lots of people for a long time—are all risky,” says Prashant Kumar, the founding Director of the Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey. The big issue with shared travel comes down to how much space people get, cleaning protocols, how filtered the air is, and who you’re traveling with.

It’s really tough to differentiate the risk between a flight, bus ride, or train trip because they all share a mix of these highly variable factors, Kumar says. Even between two different planes, you might see different levels of cleanliness, social distancing, mask requirements, and so on. It’s kind of like going out to a restaurant, where each place is on its own to decide what protective measures are being taken. Two different planes from the same airline, or trains from the same company, might still be slightly different.

Air flow is the most crucial factor in these vehicles, says Lisa Lee, an epidemiologist and public health ethicist at Virginia Tech University. Whether you’re traveling on a train, bus, or plane, you really want to be out of range of people’s exhalations. Ideally, the vehicle you are in will have a lot of air exchange with the outside, and minimal stale air circulation. For travel modes like airplanes, it isn’t so easy to pop open a window to get a bit of fresh air if the person next to you is breathing too much in your direction. Luckily, airplanes these days actually have quite good technology that can bring outside air in to circulate inside the cabin, Lee says. When it comes to a bus or train, you might have a little more leeway in taking circulation into your own hands.

“The more outside air you can bring in and exchange with inside air the better,” Lee explains.

But the bottom line, says Lee, is that out of these options, the safest mode of transportation is the one where you spend the least amount of time with the fewest number of people. So if you had to choose between a less crowded airplane flight for two hours versus a squished bus for eight, maybe go ahead and get those air miles.

Risky: Cars

Road tripping is a tempting alternative to a flight or Greyhound ride, and for the most part it is much safer than any sort of public transportation. If you’re traveling with people from your household or quarantine “pod,” then riding in a car is much safer than other types of transportation in terms of COVID-related risks, says Lee.

“Even with things like having to stop for gas, having to stop for restroom breaks, or picking up snacks, your risk of exposure is similar to everyday life events like getting groceries,” she says.

What’s important to consider when traveling by car, however, is that the more stops you make, the riskier it gets. Every time you exit the car and interact in shared spaces with shared surfaces, you increase your risk, Lee explains. And while you can control who is in your car, you don’t have any control over how people conduct themselves in gas stations or fast-food restaurants.

So, a one shot drive on one tank of gas is much safer than a multi-day road trip, especially considering if you’re staying at hotels or other accommodations overnight, which opens a whole new can of worms in terms of risks for you and whoever else is in the hotel. Just as in planes, buses, or trains, being in hotels adds a handful of variables that you can’t necessarily control. If your road trip will entail four motel stays through multiple COVID hot-spots, maybe save that escapade for a future date where you won’t have to be so stressed about carrying along or catching a virus.

Not risky: Staying home

Unfortunately, the safest way to do any sort of exploration is still through the worldwide web on your couch at home. With new cases around the US still growing, traveling regardless of mode of transportation confers risk not only to yourselves but those you come in contact with. Try satiating your travel bug with travel documentaries, books, or even a whirl on good old Google Earth.

2024 is the year of the staycation. Try an indoor or backyard camping trip. In fact, backyards are the perfect arena for all kinds of kid-friendly shenanigans like mini-Olympic yard games or a movie screening on a projector. If you’re short on outdoor space, treat yourself to a DIY spa day. You could even spruce up and redecorate your living situation to make it feel like a whole new environment.

Of course, the pandemic does not mean we need to halt our lives completely, says Kumar, but we all need to make informed decisions and know what it takes to stay safe. And sometimes that means creating your own vacation at home, and saving up for an even more special trip next year.

Bonus round: Boats

But on the other hand, boats often have people milling about free range, which can make social distancing difficult. Giant boats where hordes of people are crammed into cabins, like cruise ships, are an infectious disease nightmare and are to be avoided at all costs. But so long as your boat of choice is not super packed, and has ample space for distancing, you may be in luck.

If you’re fortunate enough to have access to a small, private boat, that could be a great way to get to the beach for some water time. Just make sure you’re either with your quaranteam, again, or have enough square footage for safe distancing.

So is the only good option for getting to Europe a slow boat across the Atlantic? Not really. “If I were going on a trip to London, I’d rather not be on a boat for a week. I’d much rather be on a plane where I’m only on there for a few hours,” Lee says. Being stuck with a bunch of people, even with ideal ventilation, is quite literally the stuff of coronavirus nightmares.

But, for a short day trip on a boat with just your pod, the journey would kind of be like taking a car trip, but with more airflow and sunshine. So if you go this route, take the same precautions as you would for a road trip, and certainly don’t forget your sunscreen.

Inside The Machine That Chills Your Beer In One Minute

How can you turn lukewarm lager to ice-cold beer in under a minute? A startup has developed a nifty gizmo which does just that, saving both energy and embarrassment at parties. Manufacturer Enviro-Cool claims that chilling on demand with a V-Tex could save retailers €1000 per fridge per year, and of course help to keep the planet cool too. So how does the device actually work?

Media reports have dubbed the device a “reverse microwave“, but that analogy would receive a chilly reception amongst physicists. Unfortunately, you can’t simply wire up a microwave oven backwards and suck the heat from an object.

In fact, despite the PR spin about “Rankine vortices”, this device is remarkably unremarkable in some respects: the rapid cooling of drinks is achieved by putting them into contact with something cold. However, there is a twist: the interesting science here is fluid dynamics, not thermodynamics.

Tricky chilling

It’s easy to heat food quickly in a microwave oven. Why is it so hard to cool things down? The temperature of an object is essentially a measure of how much energy it holds. A hotter object has more energy than a colder one. Cooling is difficult because coaxing the atoms inside an object to give up their energy is a tricky business.

If you want to cool a material at will, you need to choose your material quite carefully. A gas is ideal: gases can be heated by compression (which is why a bicycle pump is warm to the touch after use) or, conversely, cooled by expansion (which is why the rapidly-expanding gas from an aerosol can feels cool).

There are no gaseous foods, and solids or liquids are more difficult to chill. The only simple option is to place them in contact with something cold.

This is, of course, how a fridge works: compressing and expanding gas in a series of tubes makes them cold. These tubes then cool the air in the fridge, which then cools your food. The problem with this process is that air and food are pretty terrible conductors of heat, so it takes a long time for the heat to flow out of food, via the air and into the cold pipes, where it is expelled from the back of the fridge to warm up the kitchen.

Thus, to increase the speed of cooling, we need another medium to transport heat. This is the first aspect of the V-Tex which differs from a normal fridge: it uses water to carry the heat from the drink being cooled. But water is so much more effective than air that you run into another problem. Suck out heat from a chicken too quickly and the skin will be frozen before the inside even begins to cool—the opposite of a typical barbecue disaster where food cooked at too high a heat is burnt on the outside, but still raw on the inside. In the case of drinks, the nonuniform cooling can create either an exterior layer of ice with a highly concentrated solution of icky syrup at its core, or an unintentional slushie of half-frozen Sauvignon blanc.

With solid objects, from last night’s pasta bake to organs for transplant, this is where the story ends: you are just going to have to cool it more carefully if you want to avoid freezing. But with a liquid, you have another option: agitate the liquid such that the whole volume is uniformly exposed to the cold.

Twisted problem

Many common beverages, however, pose one further problem. From Pepsi to Prosecco, the fizz in fizzy drinks comes from CO2 gas dissolved in the liquid. This CO2 is looking for any excuse to escape, and these excuses come in the form of “nucleation sites”, which encourage bubbles to form: from tiny pits on the surface of Mentos to a disturbance in the liquid itself. This is why you can’t simply shake ’n’ cool: if you’ve ever played a playground prank with a shaken bottle of Coke, or watched champagne being sprayed from a Formula One podium, you’ll be aware of the effervescent consequences of disturbing a liquid containing dissolved gas.

This is why the V-Tex designers had to devise a smart way of uniformly cooling fizzy liquids. The solution was to rotate, shake with a wiggle and rotate again. This creates a smooth-flowing vortex, with no pressure waves which might induce bubble formation. Details are scant (patents cover the meticulous choreography behind it), but the website does mention repeated creation and destruction of a “Rankine vortex”, which is one way in which a fluid can smoothly swirl.

This device is no reverse microwave: its rapid cooling only works on liquids, and the thermal conduction of the container makes a significant difference (they claim a 500 ml metal can can be cooled in 50 seconds and an equivalent glass bottle would take six minutes).

The media missed out on a better story: in a V-Tex your drink is being stirred, not shaken, by a rapidly moving robot arm (in a tank of ice water). Make the whole assembly transparent and throw in some LEDs, a little more like the prototype, and the short wait for your fizzy pop lays bare some cool physics.

Andrew Steele does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

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