November 26, 2016

"The historical record says that the initial wave of molasses moved at 35 miles per hour... which sounds outrageously fast."

"At the time people thought there must have been an explosion in the tank, initially, to cause the molasses to move that fast," said Nicole Sharp, an aerospace engineer and science communications expert, who worked on a study of the Boston molasses flood of 1919. A 40-foot wall of molasses killed 21 and injured 150 more were left injured. No one had previously worked out the equations, accounting for the viscosity of molasses in cold weather.
If the tank had burst in warmer weather, it would have “flowed farther, but also thinner,” Mr. Rubinstein said. In the winter, however, after the initial burst — which lasted between 30 seconds and a few minutes, Ms. Sharp said — the cooler temperature of the outside air raised the viscosity of the molasses, essentially trapping people who had not been able to escape the wave.

9 comments:

Eustace Chilke said...

So now we know the speed of molasses in January. Cool.

ThreeHeaded Throop said...

A huge reservoir of molasses. From the Caribbean. In Boston. How long had this been going on? Many generations as it turns out. But never mind the history. Only the south bears the guilt of slavery and that's the way we want to keep it.

Unknown said...

What was the WC Fields movie that made a joke of this?

Laslo Spatula said...

This knowledge will better prepare Bukkake Enthusiasts in colder climates.

Science.

I am Laslo.

tim in vermont said...

My dad assured me that molasses in January was extremely slow. I wonder what else he lied about.

David said...

Mr. Rubinstein and Ms. Sharp said they would like to eventually build an entire course around the disaster, where students could apply what they learn in other classes to understanding not just why the molasses behaved the way it did, but also what other forces shaped the events of that day in 1919.

Like abolitionist Boston's long time complicity in the economic bonanza's of the slave system, which got the molasses trade going in the first place?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Scratch one simile. Suggested replacement: "Slower than ballot-counting in California."

MayBee said...

This was just on Drunk History.

LordSomber said...

Chief Warrant Officer Sam Jacobs met a similar demise.