Thursday, February 12, 2009

My new favorite quote

In many cases, as far as viscosity is concerned, the Brookfield is to the quality-control laboratory what the Hoover is to the home.
Howard Barnes, "An examination of the use of rotational viscometers for the quality control of non-Newtonian liquid products in factories", Applied Rheology 11, 89-101 (2001).
I read this line today in the referenced paper by Howard Barnes. And I just about died laughing. (Can you tell I'm writing a new paper? And I have to turn it in tomorrow? And I'm a little brain-dead?)

You don't get it. I know you don't. But that's okay. I'm the rheologist around here, after all, and not you.

No, seriously, I'm still laughing. And you're probably wondering about my sanity. But that's okay, too. I'm the nerdy engineer around here, after all, and not you. (Or, not most of you.)

To fill you in on the aspects of this, let me tell you a few simple things. First, Howard Barnes. He is a crusty old Welshman, with many years of willingness to take a critical but tongue-in-cheek look at rheological issues. Seriously, to hear him dead pan some of these lines is just hilarious. If you are a rheologist.

Secondly, the Brookfield. Brookfield Engineering makes a variety of viscometers and rheometers (there's a difference, folks! Amazingly, Wikipedia is missing pages which describe the differences.) for industrial use. They're a nice company, and I know a couple of nice people who work there. The viscometer to which Barnes is referring is a truly ubiquitous instrument, used anywhere a fluid-like substance needs to be tested. And it's good for it's purpose. I won't bore you (TOO LATE!) with what distinguishes it from other, more rigorous viscometric methods. Suffice to say, it differs.

And that brings us to the third point. The people who use a Brookfield typically have no clue that there is a difference. I would liken it to reading the temperature off a thermometer. Never mind that the thermometer you are using is encased in ice melting in the Death Valley summer sun - when you see it reads 32°F, you dutifully write down that number and dare anyone short of God to challenge its validity. I have lost literally weeks of my life explaining this to people who don't understand why the data they're getting doesn't match with data from other sources or what was expected for the sample. Literally, weeks I'll never have back.

And that's why I'm laughing. Because someone else feels my pain.

Uh, hey, where did everybody go? I guess I lost you somewhere up there. Goodnight every body!

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Amy said...

I expected some deep quote on social justice when I saw the title, but it didn't take long for my eyes to glaze over...

euphrony said...

I hope reading what you did didn't hurt too much.

JSue said...

I actually laughed out loud when you said:

I won't bore you (TOO LATE!)

Okay, it was only a snicker, but didn't lose me completely!

Douglas said...

I was actually hoping for an explanation of the differences. Otherwise, what's left to read? Are descriptions of bouts with intestinal critters more interesting than rheology? I feel for ya, but I'm with rheology.


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