Wednesday, 4 September 2013

471 litres of tea

The last about 10 months have seen a lot of change for this blogger, including starting two new jobs and two house moves, and even a return to the UK from Australia. Phew, I'm pooped, but I'm also very, very glad to be back in the saddle working as a post doc at the University of Sheffield.

After finishing a two-and-a-bit year stint working as a post doc at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, I spent 10 months working for Elsevier as a journal publisher and an Associate Editor. Perhaps I'll say more about that stint in publishing in a later blog post, and perhaps not, because I don't want to sound like some kind of newly formed expert in scientific publishing. Needless to say I could not resist the allure of the world of scientific research and here I am, back in the saddle, like a scientific cowboy. Yeee-ha!

It's a mug

To facilitate my transition back to the academic world my wife has bought me a scientific mug to smoothen the synapses with freshly brewed tea. The mug depicts a collection of objects in the solar system and various facts about their diameters, orbits etc. She rightly pointed out the conspicuous presence of Pluto, our de-classified solar system mascot. We assumed that the design dated from before our cold and distant cousin was torn from the hall of planetary fame, and we also mused that perhaps these issues were not at the forefront of the minds of people who sell mugs. Since the mug's design makes no attempt to classify the objects depicted thereon, planet, star or otherwise, I am quite happy that Pluto is there and I find the little yellow dot pleasantly nostalgic.

To get me back into the scientific mentality, a brief calculation on how much tea per year is likely to be quaffed from this receptacle. The mug has a diameter of approximately 10 cm and a similar height (yes, a fat aspect ratio). Thus its volume is pi*5cm^2*10cm or 0.785 litres. I plan to empty this mug an average of three times a day, five days a week, and I estimate that about 40 weeks a year will be spent in the Department. Thus I estimate 471 litres of tea will be drunk per year, which for your information is 9.42 petrol tanks full on my car.

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