[time-nuts] Thunderbolt stability and ambient temperature

Chuck Harris cfharris at erols.com
Fri Jun 12 09:02:35 EDT 2009

Rex wrote:

>> Humans are terrible witnesses when it comes to judging lengths of
>> time, and degrees of temperature.  That's probably why clocks and
>> thermometers were invented.
>> -Chuck Harris
> When I started this part of the thread I said that one of these days I 
> want to try to make some measurements to see if I can document what I 
> believe I have experienced. A few others seem to think they have 
> experienced the same effect. I won't say that we couldn't possibly be 
> wrong and it is some kind of illusion. The previous time I posted about 
> this (elsewhere) the majority opinion was that I was wrong about what I 
> thought I was experiencing.

Rex, it isn't that you are wrong about what you thought you were
experiencing, it is more that you mis interpreted the result.

Time, as perceived by humans is variable.  The old saying that time flies
when you are having fun, it true from most people's perception.  And time
crawls when you are focusing on being in a hurry, as is often the case when
working with red hot metal.

I am certain that if you do the experiment with some more controls, you
will discover that, if anything, the heat to your hand slows as a result
of cooling the bar (horizontally in water).

Here is how I would run an informal experiment:

Put two identical bars in the forge fire, and let the ends heat to
a nice orange heat.

Turn on the water at the sink.

Pick one bar up in your left hand, and the other in your right.

Walk over to the sink, taking about the amount of time you did before,
and hold the end of one bar in the water, and keep the other bar out
of the water... and wait for it....

If the bar in the water becomes uncomfortable to hold before the one
that is out of the water, you are on to something.

I bet it won't.

> Before I quit, here's a little bit more info. By the time I carried the 
> bar to the water, the hot end was probably barely red temp or not red at 
> all. When I first noticed it I wasn't trying to suddenly quench the bar, 
> just cool it off. The bar was nearly horizontal and I was passing it 
> under a stream of cold water a bit at a time. It certainly produced 
> steam but the steam never got near my hand and the increasing heat I 
> felt was coming through the steel. I don't believe the steam was moving 
> down the bar much either (possibly transferring the heat I felt.)

The reason I mentioned the steam is when you are quenching a bar for
the purpose of hardening it, you invariably dunk it straight down in
a bucket of water.  The steam can't help but rise up to whatever is
holding the bar.

> Because of what I've experienced, now I tend to cool things by applying 
> the water near my hand and working the water toward the hot end.

Unless you are hardening the steel, you really shouldn't quench it
in water.  It tends to really mess with the end result.

> I'll try to not drag this out by posting more on the subject unless I 
> get some supporting data or if there are any specific questions.

I truly hope you aren't bothered by our rumination.  We clearly are
enjoying the subject.  Thanks for bringing it up.

-Chuck Harris

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