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Posts Tagged ‘Thermos

“Fog and smog should not be confused and are easily separated by color”*…

 

A London-style Peasouper Smog Meringue

 

This afternoon [May 30], the Center for Genomic Gastronomy and I [Nicola Twilley] will be offering New Yorkers a chance to taste aeroir, with a side-by-side tasting of air from different cities. With the support of the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, we have spent the past few months designing and fabricating a smog-tasting cart, complete with built-in smog chamber, as well as developing a range of synthetic smog recipes.

Having made its debut at a meeting of the World Health Organization in Geneva a fortnight ago, the cart will be stationed on Rivington Street, just off the Bowery, from noon to six today. We will be serving up free smog meringues from three different locations as part of the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY street festival.

The cart builds on an earlier project by the Center for Genomic Gastronomy. In 2011, after reading that an egg foam is ninety-percent air in Harold McGee’s bible of culinary chemistry, On Food and Cooking, the Center took whisks, mixing bowls, and egg whites out onto the streets of Bangalore, using the structural properties of meringue batter to harvest air pollution in order to taste and compare smog from different locations around the city…

Get a taste of the place at “Smog Meringues.”

* “Fog and smog should not be confused and are easily separated by color. Fog is about the color of the insides of an old split wet summer cottage mattress; smog is the color and consistency of a wet potato chip soaked in a motorman’s glove.”   – Chuck Jones

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As we hold our noses, we might that it was on this date in 1878 that James Dewar exhibited liquid air (obtained at a temperature of -192ºC) at the Royal Institution in London.  A distinguished chemist and physicist (Dewar was an expert on the liquefaction of the “permanent gases,” conducting his work at temperatures approaching absolute zero), he is probably best remembered as the inventor, in 1892, of the “Dewar flask,” a vacuum-insulated vessel that can keep liquids at hot or cold temperatures for long periods. The first commercial vacuum flasks were made in 1904 by a German company, Thermos GmbH, which patented Dewar’s work (as he had not).  Dewar sued to recover his invention, but lost.  “Thermos” remains a registered trademark in some countries; but– in a 1963 decision that sent chills down spines at Kleenex (Kimberley-Clark) and Xerox– it was declared a genericized trademark in the US,  since it has come to be synonymous with vacuum flasks in general.

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Written by LW

June 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone”*…

Calvin Seibert (Box Builder on Flickr) explains his commitment to his ephemeral craft…

Building “sandcastles” is a bit of a test. Nature will always be against you and time is always running out. Having to think fast and to bring it all together in the end is what I like about it.

I rarely start with a plan, just a vague notion of trying to do something different each time. Once I begin building and forms take shape I can start to see where things are going and either follow that road or attempt to contradict it with something unexpected.

In my mind they are always mash-ups of influences and ideas. I see a castle, a fishing village, a modernist sculpture, a stage set for the oscars all at once.

When they are successful they don’t feel contained or finished. They become organic machines that might grow and expand. I am always adding just one more bit and if time allowed I wouldn’t stop.

See more of Calvin’s modernist monuments to mutability here.  Then check out SpongeBob SquarePants‘ “Sandcastles in the Sand.”

[TotH to Colossal]

* Jorge Luis Borges

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As we gather a collection of rectangular pails, we might spare a thought for Sir James Dewar; he died on this date in 1923.  A distinguished chemist and physicist (Dewar was an expert on the liquefaction of the “permanent gases,” conducting his work at temperatures approaching absolute zero), he is probably best remembered as the inventor, in 1892, of the “Dewar flask,” a vacuum-insulated vessel that can keep liquids at hot or cold temperatures for long periods.   The first commercial vacuum flasks were made in 1904 by a German company, Thermos GmbH, which patented Dewar’s work (as he had not).  Dewar sued to recover his invention, but lost.  “Thermos” remains a registered trademark in some countries; but– in a 1963 decision that sent chills down spines at Kleenex (Kimberley-Clark) and Xerox– it was declared a genericized trademark in the US,  since it has come to be synonymous with vacuum flasks in general.

Sir James Dewar

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Written by LW

March 27, 2013 at 1:01 am

Paileontology…

 

 

For school children today, a “lunch box” is a simple and utilitarian affordance (indeed, it’s rarely even a box).  But for many readers (and your correspondent), the lunch box was much more than a way to schlep a sandwich; it was a totemic possession. In the days before tee shirts could be worn to school (much less tee shirts with cool logos or designs), a lunch box was a proclamation of allegiance– I dig Lost in Space, I adore Barbie– a step toward public identity and an ingredient in the gel that held adolescent school friends together.

Lunch boxes date back to the 19th century, when working men began to carry them to factories or construction sites or mines to protect their mid-day meals from the perils of the job site.

By the 1880s, school children began to emulate their daddies by making similar caddies out of empty cookie or tobacco tins. The first commercial lunch boxes, which resembled metal picnic baskets decorated with scenes of playing children, came out in 1902.  And the first popular character, Mickey Mouse, appeared on a lunch box in 1935.

But the lunch box as personal statement really took off in the 1950s, fueled by television. Executives at a Nashville company called Aladdin realized they could sell more of their relatively indestructible lunch boxes if they decorated them with the ephemeral icons of popular culture: even if one’s Cisco Kid lunch box was barely scratched, one would want to trade in his pail for one featuring Marshall Dillon.

Manufacturers moved from metal to vinyl briefly in the 60s, then switched to molded plastic.  But the growth of school lunch programs (and relaxed attire rules, allowing students to wear their enthusiasms) began to eat into the market; Aladdin left the business (though Thermos remains).  Today lunch boxes are generally made of vinyl, with foam insulation, and an aluminum/vinyl interior (so that they’re better at retaining their temperature but are less rigid/protective)– and they’re no longer the cultural signifiers that once they were.

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, collecting older lunch boxes has become an active hobby.

Read more at the Smithsonian’s “The History of the Lunch Box” (from whence, the photos above) and see the galleries at the National Museum of American History’s “Taking America to Lunch.”

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As we wrap our apples, we might recall that it was on this date in 1961 that Congress passed Public Law 87-293, authorizing and funding The Peace Corps.

To promote world peace and friendship through a Peace Corps, which shall make available to interested countries and areas men and women of the United States qualified for service abroad and willing to serve, under conditions of hardship if necessary, to help the peoples of such countries and areas in meeting their needs for trained manpower.

Since 1961, over 200,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps and served in 139 countries.

President Kennedy greets the first class of volunteers

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Written by LW

September 22, 2012 at 1:01 am

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