e tend to think of condensation as a process that cools — sweat comes in pretty handy on a hot day, for example. But there's a flip side to beaded moisture that most of us are less familiar with called condensational heating. Worse yet, it's making your beer warm.
In a study published in the journal Physics Today, University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor Dale Durran decided to take a close look at the condensation gathering on your beer can. When vapor in the environment begins clinging to your beverage as water droplets, the phase change releases energy, and thus heat. Although it looks cold, the condensation is actually wrapping your beverage of choice in a warm blanket — transforming the sweet nectar within into room-temperature swill.
In hot and humid cities (say, New Orleans), a beer can can warm up more than twice as fast as a town with dry conditions (say, Vegas). On a sweltering day on Bourbon Street, a cold can of Coors can warm by 6 degrees Fahrenheit in five minutes flat.
"Probably the most important thing a beer koozie does is not simply insulate the can, but keep condensation from forming on the outside of it," says Duran. "I was surprised to think that such a tiny film of water could cause that much warming."
So how does the condensational heating of a beer can relate to global warming? Well, that's where the research gets interesting: Essentially, it means that as the planet warms, we can expect more moisture in the environment. That, in turn, will result in more condensational heating, which could lead to volatile weather phenomena like hurricanes and tornadoes.
In other words, as temperatures continue to rise around the globe, we can expect more wacky, weird, and inclement weather to go along with the obnoxious, sticky heat.
Plus, our beers will be gross. (Via Popular Science)
- The indignity of canine bath time
- Why income inequality has become the Democratic Party's top issue
- Watch The Daily Show definitively prove that corporations are not people
- Is it possible to live forever?
- 5 books to read before your 30th birthday
- How to make the perfect hot chocolate
- No, Obama doesn't have to fire everybody in the White House
- 11 languages spoken by 11 people or fewer
- Why Americans care about Rob Ford's drug abuse but not Nigella Lawson's
- How America's unions can reinvent themselves in the new economy
Subscribe to the Week