7/23/16 BTUs Feed the Storm

British Thermal Units (BTU) are a standard measurement for a unit of work (energy). One BTU is the amount of work needed to raise 1 LB of water by 1°F. In the international engineering world at large, it has given way to the Joule, much like the meter and kilo have supplanted our British Foot and Pound. We still cling to our imperial measurements here. The rest of the world mocks us. It is no matter. Any unit of measurement is fine, particularly any one so ingrained in us as to not require further interpretation. I want to know how many BTUs the air conditioner is capable of, not how many KiloJoules.

A joule is too complicated for me to describe, so I borrowed the definition below from another website:

One joule is equal to the energy used to accelerate a body with a mass of one kilogram using one newton of force over a distance of one meter. One joule is also equivalent to one watt-second. Joule, James Prescott 1818-1889. British physicist who demonstrated that heat is a form of energy.

Then there are Newtons, as indicated above. Newtons are another measurement for energy, work, or heat.

Then there are calories, which are the amount of heat required to raise one gram of water 1°C, though we usually think of french fries, fried chicken, expanding waistlines, or something similar when we think of calories, which measure the energy stored in food. If we take in more energy than we consume, our body stores it as fat. This is unfortunate, but described by Isaac Newton a long time ago.

In the electrical world, we use WATTS as a measurement of energy, or power.

Last night’s passing thunderstorm consumed quadrillions of Newtons, trillions of Joules, Billions of KiloCalories, and released a GigaWatt of two of electrical energy.

The miserable torpor of yesterday’s dog-day yielded a 100°F temperature at a humidity level nearly unbearable. The heat index was 111°F. We call them dog-days because the dogs languish in lethargy, not even bothering to eat, move from the shade, or bark at passing rabbits or approaching strangers; they just remain motionless except for their panting.

The thunderstorm was not particularly furious, as they can be, but it was a relief, as it left us a cool night and cheered up the dogs quite a bit, whetted their appetite, and made them all get up and wag their tails every time I’d move about, they thinking I was fixing to feed them. I did. Their lethargy subsided with the storm. Every unit of energy consumed by the storm was like an energy injection for the dogs. Me, too.

Here’s the only lightning photo I was able to capture last night. _DSC9668-2

It took me a hour of steady work to capture this one, which is a good one, but not nearly so good as the ones I missed. The lightning bolt beautifully illuminated the pond.

The hunter can’t always bring home the trophy, but a competent hunter can usually bring home something for the stew pot. Every game acquisition for the dogs is a trophy, as by their way of measurement, something for the stew pot is the only trophy that impresses them.

We, the dogs and me, all enjoyed the cool evening, the day’s earlier oppression having been swept away by the storm, leaving a freshness you could taste in the air.

Today is likely to be a repeat.

©2016 Mississippi Chris Sharp


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