Lavalite Town

So this middle-of-nowhere town in Washington got the stupid idea to build a 60+ foot tall Lava Lite in the center of town, to "promote tourism." Now generally, I'd say that's exactly the kind of stupid idea the world needs more of. But I'm unconvinced that it's going to actually look like a lava lite: why would you expect dynamics of the fluid to scale with the size of the bottle? They'll have to find some new mixture for the goop that has a melting point and density that is tuned to the gigantic bottle, and it's not obvious that that's even possible.

Plus, the thing's going to take a hellacious amount of juice: it will take no small amount of heat to keep hundreds of tons of wax in liquid form. Would one even be able to stand anywhere near the glass? Doubtful...

(I've given a lot of thought to lava.)

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10 Responses:

  1. kyronfive says:

    I was also thinking about the safety logistics of something like that. Lets say the structural integrity was compromised... isn't that a gigantic public safety issue? Who's going to want to insure something like that?

    • hfx_ben says:

      Apparently they've done some serious engineering; the limiting factor is the size of the glass ... plastic is out, for some reason. The guy said the largest glass vessel produced to date was 7 feet high and 2 feet in diameter. And they want a lamp 60' high!??

  2. mendel says:

    And what better place to put a Touristy Big Thing than the middle of a road? That'll
    be great fun for the kids! Look at how much work the red truck is going through
    trying to get around the darn thing. You can see in the
    picture from the
    other side
    that the red truck was forced to drive up on the sidewalk to
    pass the Lava Obstacle.

    This alternative lamp
    isn't even centred in the road, it's just kind of dropped there. The guy in the Sportage
    doesn't know what to do.

    It's a roadmiddle attraction!

  3. batmite2000 says:

    The March Violets are awesome! :)

  4. hfx_ben says:

    You're right on concerning the juice ... getting that mass up to *what?* 180F or whatever is a lot of calories, or BTUs, or whatever. But a ton of wax at 180 is no hotter than a pound of wax at 180, both of which are a lot cooler than a fireplace.

    Bottom line: we love fractals ... mud bubbling, geysers, fountains, they're all fascinating. Hehl, who hasn't spent time watching clouds unfold? I think the thing'd be bloody glorious!

    *just imagine floating little remotely controlled light pods around in the molten mass*

    • nothings says:

      I'm not sure this is right. There's more stuff at the same temperature, so there's more heat energy there.

      Look at it this way: each pound of hot stuff (at the surface of the thing) radiates heat energy out into the air the same as a normal pound of hot stuff. Thus, ten pounds of 180-degree stuff are going to be conducting/convecting/whatevering 10x the heat energy into the air. Now, no matter what, it can't raise the air temperature above 180, but it'll get a lot close to that number from further away when you have more hot stuff.

      • hfx_ben says:

        "I'm not sure this is right. There's more stuff at the same temperature, so there's more heat energy there." Quite right ... that's established.
        For the rest of it, heat storage and heat trasfer engage a different set of variables, no? Surface area comes to mind. (Hi-mass heaters for home come to mind ... the large warm mass floods the room, where a typical wood heater streams hot air upward at high velocity.)

  5. mattlazycat says:

    And on Mardi Gras, they cover up the glass with black material, then march around the world's biggest butt plug.

    Actually the idea of a giant lava lamp seems quite cool, but as ever, some things work better in the fuzzy places between synapses than under the cold hard light of day. And slapping the damned thing in the middle of a road surrounded by people so fucked up that their own shadows and lighting can't decide which way they ought to point, ranks up there with feeding mercury to babies so they'll have their own thermometers. Good luck to 'em.

  6. Just think of all the drug addicts you could attract with a thing like that. Smart money puts a water pipe and convenience store across the street from the 60' lava lamp.

  7. badger says:

    ">An old Usenet article on building big, if not that big, lava lamps.