An Extremely Fine Line, Indeed

A friend from high school sometimes referred to certain “odd” classmates as “easily amused.” It seemed appropriate at the time.

On the other hand, especially as I’ve gotten into my later decades, I’ve developed a major appreciation for the ability to maintain a childlike sense of wonder, particularly in regards to some of the simple things in life.

Today I had an experience that I initially thought was full of childlike sense of wonder, but my brain shouted at me that I was just easily amused, and it occurred to me that the difference between the two states might be an extremely fine line, indeed.

The subject in question was water temperature. Specifically, water temperature gradients in an insulated sports bottle.

Here’s a quick, crappy picture of said insulated sports bottle:

(This is my Angels bottle – don’t worry, OF COURSE I have a Chiefs bottle! But this is the one that amused/amazed me today.)

So, fill it with ice and water (or any other fluid) and it will keep it nice and cold for hours. Ditto for hot chocolate or soup, they’ll stay hot for hours. Thermos bottles have been around since I was a kid, had one in my lunch box in first grade way back before most of you were born. It works as expected and designed.

Let it sit for a day or two and forget that you put ice and cold water in it and you’ll have 18 ounces of room temperature water. As expected.

But somewhere in the middle there…

I’ve noticed a number of times that there’s a middle ground where if one picks it up without undue jostling, pops the top, turns it over and chugs it, you can very distinctly taste the room temperature water first, then getting several degrees colder, and then by the end getting much colder water.

On the one hand, that’s what I would expect as well in a “big picture” sense. Fundamental fluid dynamics says hot fluids or gasses will rise, cold ones sink. So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that the top water in the bottle, which I drink first when I turn it over, is warmer, and the bottom water, which gets drunk last, is cooler.

What DOES surprise me is that the temperature difference is so distinctly noticeable. It’s not a subtle difference. Secondly, I’m surprised that the water stays differentiated by temperature even as the bottle is picked up, opened, and upended. I would think that there would be enough disturbance there to mix the water and destroy the effect.

Yet the effect is there – I notice it all the time.

So – childlike curiosity and wonder at the simple facts of our bizarre existence on this dust mote in the infinite cosmos? Or, “You’re easily amused!”


Filed under Curiosities, Deep Thoughts, Photography

3 responses to “An Extremely Fine Line, Indeed

  1. The cold drink wiill be denser, so maybe turning it quickly enough means it doesn’t have time for mixing to occur – or for it to ‘fall’ to the top where you’re drinking.


  2. wcroth55

    Childlike wonder.

    How much air is in the bottle? I’m speculating that you’ll get little immediate mixing if there is no (or very little air), and more mixing if there’s a lot of air. Try a half-full bottle and see what happens.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Excellent point, I hadn’t thought of that! The bottles are always full. I suspect you’re correct, the incompressibility of water will, at least in the short term, slow down the mixing.


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