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Looking at Things Differently


Ironically enough, Michelob Ultra Light in the background.

While working the other day, I came across this unassuming graphic on an outdated case of Belhaven Oatmeal Stout.  Our store does not usually make a habit out of carrying old beer, but when a wholesaler has to dump something off, they know where they can go.  My current employer is the second largest distributor (by sales) in Bucks County, and was Numero Uno until the owner opened up the biggest (by volume) distributor, approximately 4 miles away.  Anyway, we have plenty of customers that will gladly pay $18.99 for a 7.5% abv stout that doesn’t taste too off from when it was originally $59.99.

As a “beer expert,” (seriously, try me) I have noticed over the last decade that many consumers confuse the hue of a beer with its “weight.”  Now in this instance, they would be correct to assume that a darker beer would be “heavier” than a lighter beer (I refer to Ultra as a “heavier” water).  What very few people know; however, is that Guinness is actually one of the lightest beers you can drink.  Twelve ounces of Guinness is 125 calories and only 4.2% abv, and perhaps even less filling is the fact that it utilizes a nitro mix; that is, approximately 75% nitrogen to 25% carbon dioxide.  So for all of you “Guinness is too heavy for me” people, consider yourself learnt.

As an engineering student, the word weight can have a few different meanings.  The grade weight of certain exams, projects, or other assignments is something that we all spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to decipher; time that would most certainly be better spent improving said grades.

Weight, as a student of physics, is a force of course.  You can’t have weight unless you have a mass, such as 14 kilograms, and then we have to multiply that by the gravitational constant ~9.81 m/s^s.  That gives us a beautiful “W,” which is much lovelier in SI than all of that lb-f and lb-m nonsense.  I am sure that someone around here could be a real stickler and bring up the fact that gravity is variable depending on elevation.  Personally, I would tell that individual to take a hike to Nevado Huascarán in Peru, which according to this study from 2013 is 9.76932 m/s^2.

Perhaps the weight that many of us are most familiar with is a figurative manifestation of the physical force.  The weight of our course loads, our assignments, and our exams.  Perhaps you’re like me, and you are maintaining a job during your education.  Perhaps you are insane and are working full-time while dealing with this major.  Don’t forget about that personal life, which depending on your ability to cope can range from non-existant to chaotic to therapeutic, and not necessarily in that or any other order.

What I have discovered about this major is that much like a structure that needs to support many loads (shout out to you CE’s), even in the most dire of straits we seem to band together and lessen the reaction forces.  Working with my fellow engineering students has provided many valuable lessons about teamwork, and when we are all working on that problem for 4 hours together, it lessens the weight on my mind (and hopefully yours).

Anyway, I noticed this “misprint” on the package, and I decided to mention this to my coworkers.  For some reason I like to make frequent use of engineering, math, and science dialogue or references.  I’m not sure if it’s because I want to show off (as if anyone actually cared haha), or if it is because I actually like to think in those kinds of terms.  If for nothing else, my pursuit of an ME degree has revitalized my ability to think more critically (not that this was a critical thought) about inconsequential events in the universe.

Upon informing my coworkers of this travesty on a dusty case of old Scottish stout, I was sarcastically informed that, “you can’t get anything by these engineering students,” in jest of course.  I can’t blame anyone for mocking my tendency to make these connections of everyday occurrences to my studies.  If you know me, then you know that nothing is safe from my lighthearted ridicule.

And that’s why I love our major.  I am certainly not the only one around here that knows how to keep it light while maintaining workload efficiency.  Thanks for helping with the weight.

Also, thanks for reading and best of luck this weekend!



Bonus: before this caption my post was coincidentally the same number of words as another one of my favorite aircraft.



About timpalamcmuffin

I'm a mechanical engineering student that loves aviation and hockey.

25 responses to “Looking at Things Differently

  1. It is true. A lot of individuals outside the engineering field confuse mass with weight. For instance relating pound mass and pound force are two different measuring units but people still mix the up

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  3. tuf54239

    The way you thought to incorporate your school into your work is really interesting! I work at the Temple Housing Office and am often put on jobs for the Graphic Design Department to do measurements. Recently, I had to measure a hallway with a lot of doors and cut outs and I had to use a ton of basic instinct for measuring that I learned from engineering classes.

  4. The best way to get a college student to read your blog is to talk about beer for the first few paragraphs! Ill take your word for it about being a beer master as only a beer master would be able to equate alcohol percentages to an engineering major. That being said, the blog was very interesting and fun to read. I agree that this is a major that we need to stick together and be a team in. Once this course gets really hard, the rest of the team will be there to help each other out.

  5. Tim,
    I always look for your blogs when I am doing my comments because they are really well written and well done overall. This one is probably my favorite. It’s funny that you discuss looking at things differently now. Ever since I began my engineering journey I have been looking at the world completely different. Just as you mentioned seeing a “weight” that in theory is not a weight at all. I also notice different forces acting on things as I walk by. Thanks for the awesome post and keep it up.

  6. estabuhl ⋅

    Yo what’s happening, must say I like your support structure-teamwork analogy. I can’t agree more. The farther I’ve got into my studies, the more I’ve realized I can’t do homework without the collaboration of classmates.

  7. Really interesting blog post. Also because I love beer 😉 haha. Ever since I have been enrolled at Temple for engineering, I look at the world and surrounding environment differently. It fascinates me how much we learn in college and how we can apply it to our everyday lives. I will forever be looking at all of the structures around me statically until the day I die!

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  9. matteagan

    Interesting post. I think units of weight such as the kg can be a little misleading. A quick google search about “Why do we use kg for weight” indicates it’s not an actual kilogram, but a kilogram-force. So on your snap, it’s referring to 14 kg-f, which is a mass of 14 kg multiplied by gravity. So the weight is about 137N. Its kind of the opposite of how we refer to lbf and lbm. Where lbf is generally given, but the mass can also be pounds by dividing out the gravity constant. I think overtime, we’ve eventually just adopted to referring to solely kg or lbs, and dropping Newtons and lbm because who honestly has any idea what those unless you’ve learned about those in school. I’d just be grateful that nothing is given in Slugs, I don’t think anyone really knows what those are.

  10. Gosh Tim. That is a really different way of looking at simple things in life. Some units are hard to visualize, but relating and changing the units to something easier helps alot.

  11. Tim,

    I feel cheated on time having finally read one of your blog posts. Excellent writing, I felt like I was right next to you enjoying your light hearted ridicule.

    I think it’s funny how we can never escape this hell hole of a life we call school. Engineering aspects are all over us in life, hopefully you can use this outlook on life and maybe solve or contribute to a solution down the road. Consider me a new follower.

  12. Oooh I love beer, which probably made this one of the most entertaining blog posts I’ve read so far. That’s a really cool observation though! Also, thanks for the explanation of how weight actually works in the context of beer.

  13. Hey Tim! Great work on your blog post! I think you’re an excellent blogger. I really enjoyed reading this post, learning about beers and your occasional humor. The only two things that I can suggest for your future blog posts is to make sure that you proofread them. I didn’t find many but, a few spots were a little shaky with the grammar and structure of your sentences. Plus, this makes great practice for the professional world. Also, try including more pictures within the body of your posts. This really helps break up the information, gives the reader a breather, and makes it much more fun to read. Keep up the great work Tim, I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

    PS: “I KNEW IT.”

    • Haha thank you for the feedback Mike! Many times I tend to edit while I’m writing; which is not the best approach, but it does help to construct sentences to begin with. I really like the more pictures in the body idea as well!

  14. ti36xpro

    I’m not into beer as you but I enjoyed your writing a lot. Never knew about “weight” in terms of beer but you’re not showing off! ok maybe you are or maybe you have that kind of humor but its something that reflects what you’ve learn and what you’ve been exposed to so props to that!

  15. Chris ⋅

    Great post, I just did some brewing the other day!

    • Thanks for reading!

      I have been saying for years that I was going to get into brewing, but I haven’t had the chance to just yet! Hopefully with some of the knowledge I’ve attained and a little more free time over the summer, I can begin to finally!

  16. First off your blog is about beer so you definitely got my attention. Also any light beer is a heavier water hahaha but does weight have to do with what they are brewed with? I know Guinness isn’t brewed with the same ingredients like wheat so would that effect the weight at all?

    • Weight of the ingredients would certainly affect the density of the mash, which begins at a higher gravity and decreases as the brewing process carries on. Higher gravity beers tend to have a “heavier” body, or how thick they are.

      So ingredient selection most certainly has an effect, thanks for posting!

  17. emmamaek

    That was a pretty neat post! Thanks for sharing! I definitely like to incorporate engineering into my conversations, though to non-engineers sometimes my thoughts seem random and uninteresting haha.

  18. zachscanfluids ⋅

    Woah very interesting post. That’s funny I feel like if I were to see that (weight: 14kg) in a store it would probably slip by me. But if I were to see it in a homework problem for test question I would know something was wrong. Its interesting how different people can act and apply their knowledge. But I agree with you I often try to “be the engineer” in my friend group and often get little jokes about it. Must be a pretty cool job working in a beer store, personally I am not very knowledgeable about beer. Living on a college student budget I’ve been drinking nothing but keystone light or natural light haha. Hoping to someday have more finances to be able to indulge in better beverages. Until then Ill stick to the natty 🙂

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