Kettles, pots and metonymic shifts….

As our Departmental Christmas lunch is looming I only have time for a brief reblog of this nice discussion of boiling water in pots. It might strike you as as a bit obsessive to write about the physics of such an everyday phenomenon, but I think a bit of an obsession about physics is a very good thing indeed.

P.S. As a fully paid-up member of Pedants Anonymous I couldn’t resist drawing attention to the metonymic shift involved in the title “Watching pots boil”. Of course the pot doesn’t boil – the water in it does….

Protons for Breakfast Blog

My previous article about kettles left me wondering: Can gas hobs really waste more than half of the calorific energy in the gas? I decided to try a few more experiments and finally I think I have an answer: ‘Yes’. Gas hobs really do fail to transfer a great deal of the calorific energy in the gas to the pan or kettle they are heating.

Experiment#1 Rather than measuring the total time to reach 100 °C, I measured the rate of temperature rise. Because the heat capacity of water is well known, this allowed me to estimate how much thermal power was entering the water. So I spent a happy hour or so heating up various amounts of water: first 200g, then 400 g, 600g and finally 800g and I measured the temperature every 20 seconds.

I knew the burner power was 1.75 kW, and after a little jiggery pokery with a…

View original post 639 more words

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2 Responses to “Kettles, pots and metonymic shifts….”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    I don’t think he took account of evaporation, which makes a significant difference.

    • protonsforbreakfast Says:

      I don’t think he took account of evaporation, which makes a significant difference.

      I did. I looked at the warming rates from 20 C where vapour pressures are low. When I tested the time to boil I used glass lids. M

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