Bigger May Be Better…Sometimes, It’s Just Bigger

It’s been a while since I wrote about any Boy Scout activities. Truth is, for an organization that promotes outdoor activities, we slow down a little during the summer months, especially Cub Scouts. This past weekend, though, our Webelos (4th/5th Graders) planned an outing to our neighborhood park for a little stargazing, in order to earn our Astronomy Belt Loops, which are part of our Scientist Activity Pins, which are part of the coveted Arrow Of Light…the only Cub Scout patch that’s carried over to the Boy Scout uniform. In addition to learning how to focus a telescope, and discussing of some of the cool stuff that’s strewn throughout our universe, we also needed to:

“Draw a diagram of our solar system – identify the planets and other objects.”

Now, we could have drawn this out on poster board, fairly easily. But I thought it might be cool to give the boys a sense of the enormity of space, by laying out different sized spheres across a big open field. I found a large exercise ball (about 20” diameter) in my basement…I knew it would be either the Sun, or Jupiter. The math revealed that if I used it as the Sun, though, most of the planets would be smaller than golf balls, and I didn’t want to lose them in the field. So, I used it for Jupiter, and found another large play ball to represent Saturn, a soccer ball became Uranus, a volleyball served as Neptune, tennis balls stood in for Earth and Venus, and a few smaller rubber balls became Mercury, Mars, and the recently downgraded Pluto…which, as a child of the 1970’s, will always be a planet to me.

I didn’t have a ball big enough for the Sun in this scale, so I sat some camp chairs out in a circle, to scale…it was twenty feet in diameter. The whole model stretched over 400 feet across the field. I got lucky, in that this was just about the distance from the parking lot to the treeline.

It was a fun exercise for an unapologetic math and science fan. This morning, I got another opportunity to indulge my inner math geek, as I assisted a caller in selecting the appropriate Line Vac for an application. Turns out, he wanted to convey material that is very similar to the plastic bead tumbling media that we performed controlled testing with in order to obtain some “baseline” conveyance data.

The caller wanted to weigh the compressed air required for different sized Line Vacs against the conveyance rates achieved. That’s where it got interesting: we started with the 2” Models…turns out, the 2” Heavy Duty Line Vac consumes 66% more air than the 2” Standard Line Vac, but only conveyed the material 50% faster. Now, this was the fastest we could convey, but since he didn’t need the speed, he wanted to explore efficiency, to minimize the load on his compressed air system. The 1-1/2” Standard Line Vac turned out to meet his needs the best, using 27% more air than the 1-1/4” size, but producing a conveyance rate increase of almost 60% over the smaller unit.

So, I got to find out twice this week how effective it can be to apply a little math to gauge the scale of a project. If you have an application to discuss, even if it doesn’t involve scaling out the relative sizes and orbits of celestial bodies, or even air operated conveyor efficiency, give me a call. I may try to find a way to quantify the solution anyway…just so you know.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
(513)671-3322 local
(800)923-9247 toll free
(513)671-3363 fax

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