Sunday, October 28, 2012

Men's room science

The public bathrooms along the Garden State Parkway have fantastic hand dryers, so much fun even I bother to wash my hands after a splash at the urinal.

The XLERATOR the Ferrari of public bathroom, uses a 5/8 HP motor, and blows at 16,000 linear feet per minute, over 180 mph! It's even the Official Hand Dryer for the New England Patriots.

And it just looks sexy, in a steam punk kinda way.
But that's not why I'm talking about it.

The XLERATOR is green certified by various agencies, not something I spend a whole lot of time worrying about, but if you want to be green certified, you need to cut your watts down somewhere. The machine uses a 900W heating element, but it also uses a thermostat--the air temperature is controlled, and tops at 135°F where your hands should be.

This matters--you can play without frying yourself. [WARNING: the temp gets a bit warmer when you put your hands right at the vent--if you feel your hands frying, pull them away...]

If you push your hand right up to the vent while it's blasting a few zillion air particles, you'll reach a point where your hand suddenly gets pushed towards the vent, Bernoulli's principle in action! This amazes me every single time, and is enough excuse to make a pit stop just because...

You can't, of course, drag a whole class of kids into the men's room, at least not more than once. But you can do this.
  • Grab a spool of thread--we usually have about 9 of them attempting to mate in the junk drawer. If no one sews in your home anymore, go to grandma--she'll have a few.
  • Stick a short pin through a file card, then guide the pin into the hole in the center of the spool.
  • While still holding the index card, face the floor and start blowing hard through the spool opening.
  • Let go of the index card.
  • Be amazed.
From Mr. Right's Amazing But Simple Science Experiments series on English Sabla

If you're in a pinch for a class demo, you can simply hold up two strips of paper and challenge a kid to blow them apart--the harder the child tries, the closer the tighter the strips cling together.

For the record, paper towels are more sanitary, and you can use them to open the bathroom door if you're particularly worried about folks like me. I've become quite cozy with our prokaryotic friends, and worry more about Eli Manning's QB rating than I do about bathroom bacteria.

No, you are not allowed to comment about Bernoulli's principle and airplanes--
I know it's not just Bernoulli's forces that allows planes to fly. Go find a physics forum.

Don't get me started on anti-bacterial everything....


Tracy said...

C'mon...tell us your thoughts on anti-bacteriitis...

For the record...I fried my baby up some bacon this morning in a cast iron pan, which would drive a few people I know nuts because it has never seen soap. Ever. And it's got to be over 20 years old...

Tom Hoffman said...

You gotta fly up to Providence and try out the Dyson Airblades at TF Green:

Anonymous said...

As an older person,the most fun I find with Dyson driers is the way is pushes your skin around.I checked with some little kids, and it doesn't do nearly such a good job on their soft little elastic skins.
so, youth, take your grandma to the bathroom, and be amazed:-)

John Spencer said...

It's not Manning's rating you should be worried about. It's what will happen when the 49ers get payback in this year's post-season.

BTW, you owe me a pint on our wager of S.F. Giants and N.Y. Mets. But out of pity, I'll make this offer: if you pay for the plane ticket to Phoenix, I'll buy you the pint. It's gorgeous in November here, ranging from the seventies to the eighties.

Jeffrey Michals-Brown said...

"I've become quite cozy with our prokaryotic friends, and worry more about Eli Manning's QB rating than I do about bathroom bacteria."

What!? And you a docta!

Self Replicate said...

From a building-systems perspective, I find it interesting how the Xcelerator hand dryer simply takes the water off of your hands and throws it on the wall below. My cafe recently installed one; within one month that area is covered in mold and chipped paint. Not the 'green' they were looking for, I suppose.

The Dyson model has a trough at the bottom to collect the water; thoughtful design, for a price, of course.

Jo in OKC said...

I'll agree with Self Replicate on this one. We installed xcelerators in our new bathrooms at work. Within 2 weeks, the beautiful slate walls were stained with water. They've added stainless backsplashes now to camouflage the damage.

Also, the xcelerators are *extremely* loud. Maybe part of that is the way our bathrooms were designed without lots of sound absorbing material (but then, who uses sound absorbing material in a bathroom -- you want them easily cleaned). It wound be tempting to borrow a sound meter from our safety guy to see how loud it really is.

doyle said...

Dear Tracy,

I may post on that yet--and I love the word anti-bacteriitis so much I'm stealing it. =)

Dear Tom,

I have--they remind me of the old Bose speaker commercial. My skin looked like water. Not as noisy as the XLERATOR, too. But I don't get quite the same Bernoulli effects.

Dear Anonymous,


doyle said...

Dear John,

Get to the play-offs first, then we'll talk. I know I owe you a pint. I'd send it to you but Arizona's so backwards I'd probably get extradited and executed as a foreigner.

Dear Jeffrey,

I had to deal with hospital beasties--these restroom critters have nothing on them,

Dear Self Replicate and Jo,

You're right! I think that's the secret to their clean energy rating--blow the stuff on the floor rather than exciting the water molecules enough to flee off on their own.

And they are ridiculously loud--maybe I won't buy one for science class after all. =)

John Spencer said...

Dear Michael,

If you can't make it to AZ, you can always send me a plane ticket to Jersey. I bet you could do a Kickstarter. Those are almost as popular as TEDTalks in the edu-community.

Anonymous said...

I'm an education major and I think that this is a really interesting way to show your students that the things they learn in class can be applied to the things that happen in the real world. It definitely show that science can be applied to every day life.