Tag: Brian Brushwood

Angry Birds make Phil angry (kinda)

By Phil Plait | April 27, 2012 10:30 am

A few weeks ago, I got a note from my pal Brian Brushwood (via Ashley Paramore and, somehow, Veronica Belmont; the actual email path was Möbius-like) asking if I’d like to be a part of a short, funny video about Angry Birds Space for his videocast "Game On!"

Not being an idiot, I said yes. Here’s the result.

I had fun filming this! Angry Birds is evil and addicting and I don’t recommend downloading it unless you like evil and addicting games, which of course I do.

Sadly, "Game On!" was canceled. But the good news is that:

a) Veronica is now doing the show "Sword and Laser" with Tom Merrit on Felicia Day’s Geek and Sundry channel on YouTube, and

2) Brian has a book out, "Scam School", which I’ve been perusing and is both very funny and highly, highly evil*. It’s all about tricks and puzzles and brain teasers you can pull in bars to win free drinks off people (it also has the amazing super-cooled beeer thing in it). I’m really enjoying it, and you will too if you buy it. And you should.

Thanks to Brian for having me on the show!


* Today’s word: evil.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Geekery, Humor, Space

Brian Brushwood is super cool

By Phil Plait | January 11, 2012 10:55 am

… and I mean that literally. Here he is, supercooling a beer.

Supercooling is when a liquid is chilled to a temperature below its freezing point, but it remains a liquid. Water, for example, will crystallize when it freezes, but it needs a starting point for that to happen, like a particle of some impurity (a mineral, for example), or the rough wall of its container. If you freeze a container of (distilled) water without jostling it, it’s possible to supercool it. If you then carefully remove it from the freezer and shake it or pour it over ice, it’ll freeze instantly*.

This is similar to superheating, where a liquid can be heated beyond its boiling point but remain a liquid. This happens all the time for me when I boil water in my microwave using one particular Pyrex measuring cup. I have to be careful — I might say super careful — when removing it, because if jostled the water will erupt with steam and explode outwards. To call that dangerous is a massive understatement; water can carry a lot of heat and the resulting burns are no fun at all.

… which is how I discovered that particular measuring cup superheats the water. Ow.

Anyway, Brian Brushwood makes the great video series Scam School, and this video is for a book version he’s doing. I can’t wait to see that!


* I don’t suggest trying this without knowing what you’re doing; if the water does freeze inside the container it can rupture: ice has a larger volume than water.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Science
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