Hexbyte Glen Cove Retro milk float brings Londoners zero-plastic groceries thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Retro milk float brings Londoners zero-plastic groceries

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Ella Shone serves a customer from her electric milk float converted into a zero waste shop which brings “packaging-free” shopping to people’s doors.

Ella Shone’s small electric truck used to deliver milk but now she drives it around London, selling groceries and household goods that are free of plastic packaging.

The 32-year-old bought her “top-up truck” last year after the first coronavirus lockdown got her thinking about innovative ways to reduce waste.

She has found plenty of demand for her service, with customers scooping up dry groceries such as lentils or filling bottles from large dispensers of vinegar or washing detergent.

On a rainy day in May, the 32-year-old plied a route to eight stops in the up-and-coming district of Hackney in northeast London.

“It’s very straightforward: it’s a bit like a go-cart ride,” she said of driving the truck, which has a top speed of 30 miles (48 kilometres) per hour.

But she admitted the steering can get “a bit bumpy”.

At one stop, three customers bought dried mango, pasta, raisins and shampoo.

The mobile shop was created to bring “packaging-free” shopping to people’s doors, tapping into a growing demand for deliveries during the stay-at-home restrictions.

“I felt that there was a need to make it easier, to make it more accessible, more visible,” she said.

Nevertheless, she wasn’t immediately sure her idea was viable.

The electric vehicles were once commonly used by milkmen and women to deliver pint bottles of fresh milk on household doorsteps.

“When I started this, I thought I’d gone a bit mad on furlough leave”, she admitted.

During lockdown, Shone was on government-subsidised leave from her job in sales at a company producing sustainable condiments.

She decided to buy the truck with the money she saved during lockdown, wanting to offer a “community shopping experience”.

The truck deliveries launched in August last year and customers can book a stop online.

The electric vehicles—known commonly as milk floats—were once commonly used by milkmen and women to deliver pint bottles of fresh milk on household doorsteps.

Customers returned them for reuse and Shone says her truck prompts a “nostalgic” reaction.

But she is responding to very current concerns over , which disintegrates over time, creating ubiquitous microplastic pollution.

Activism targeting governments and corporations can help, she said, but added: “I think there’s a lot that needs to be done at consumer level.”

Ella Shone says her truck prompts a “nostalgic” reaction.

Pandemic ‘awakening’

The UK is the world’s second biggest producer of waste per person behind the United States, according to Greenpeace.

A study published in January by Greenpeace and the Environmental Investigation Agency found that the 10 largest supermarket chains in the UK reduced their use of plastic by just 1.6 percent in 2019, despite promises of change.

Shone is nevertheless optimistic about people’s motivation to cut down on wasteful packaging.

“During the pandemic, there has been a bit of a step back towards single-use (plastic) just because people are fearful of reusing something that might entail passing on COVID-19,” she said.

“But against that tide, I think there has been a bit of an awakening in terms of our responsibility towards the environment.”

In April, she raised £15,000 ($21,000) through a crowd-funding campaign, which allowed her to add more shelves to her float. She has also left her previous job.

Ultimately, Shone would like to see a ban on plastic packaging.

“There are so many areas where plastic is completely unnecessary and the government is not putting regulations on what corporations are allowed to do,” she said.

“And the recycling infrastructure is quite terrible as well.”

© 2021 AFP

Retro milk float brings Londoners zero-plastic groceries (2021, May 29)
retrieved 30 May 2021
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Anti-gravity: How a boat can float upside down thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Anti-gravity: How a boat can float upside down

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Small boats floating on and under a layer of levitating liquid. Credit: Emmanuel Fort, Author provided

Here on Earth, everything is subject to gravity—it makes objects fall to the ground and rivers flow from higher ground to the sea. We know what would happen without it, thanks to images of astronauts floating around their spaceship. But could we design an anti-gravity machine, something that would make objects fall upwards, oceans levitate, and boats float upside down?

Several imaginary worlds depict this concept, such as that of Pirates of the Caribbean 3, where Captain Jack Sparrow manages to make his ship float on the underside of an ocean where “up is down”. In the manga One Piece, adventurers explore a sea above the clouds. Could this happen in the real world?

Inverted pendulum

In the early 20th century, an astonishing experiment was carried out. It used a pendulum similar to that used by Professor Calculus in the “Tintin” comics, resembling a stiff rod with a weight at the end. When the pendulum is inverted vertically, with the weight at the top, you would expect it to fall back down at the least disturbance. But if we make the pendulum vibrate vertically, it will remain in the upside-down position. The pendulum stays inverted, defying gravity. Anyone can do this experiment at home, using a simple loudspeaker or jigsaw to vibrate the pendulum. A chain of pendulums linked to one another can also be stabilized upside down. With enough , it would even be theoretically possible to make a rope stand up in the air like a magic trick—but with no trickery involved! However, in practice it is hard to attain a speed of vibration that is fast enough for this version of the experiment.

Nobel Prize in Physics laureate Pyotr Kapitza found the explanation for this phenomenon in the 1950s. It is a dynamic effect—the vibrations act as a stabilizing force on the weight of the pendulum to keep it balanced. This force can be found mathematically from correlations between the vibration of the suspension point connecting the motor and the pendulum and the position of the pendulum.

Small (approximately 3 cm) boats floating above and below a layer of levitating liquid.

Upside down liquids?

Everyday experience shows us that liquid does not stay inverted either: when steam condenses on a saucepan lid or when you paint a ceiling, droplets will form and eventually fall.

But when the ceiling is made to vibrate vertically, we observe that these hanging droplets are reabsorbed into the layer of liquid, which flattens out as if gravity was inverted. It’s the same phenomenon at work as for the pendulum. Vibrating the hanging droplets creates force going upwards, opposing their mass. With enough vibration, the whole liquid layer remains stable.

What happens to an object placed in a levitating liquid?

When an object is immersed in a liquid, its behaviour depends on its density. An object that is less dense than the liquid will float to the surface, while a denser one will sink. That is why, for example, an air bubble at the bottom of a bucket of water will float to the surface (as air is less dense than water at atmospheric pressure). However, early on in the Space Race, a strange phenomenon was observed. Gas bubbles in would sink rather than float to the surface under the effect of vibrations during flight, which could have serious consequences. Extensive studies done on this bizarre phenomenon revealed that the oscillations of the bubbles caused by the rocket’s vibration resulted in force going downwards, opposing Archimedes’ principle.

With vertical vibration, a weighted pendulum will stay balanced in an upside down position.

This experiment can be easily reproduced with a container full of a liquid that is made to vibrate. You can use a syringe to create bubbles in the liquid and control their movement by changing the vibration frequency of the bath.

If you inject more air, it is even possible to fill the entire bottom of the container, thus making the liquid levitate on a cushion of air. It may seem paradoxical but, just as it does with the or the liquid layers, the vibration stabilises the liquid and prevents it from shifting. As it cannot let the air escape, it remains in suspension. The bigger the layer of liquid, the more energetic vibration is required. Our vibrator allowed us to lift half a litre of liquid. Still a long way off from an ocean, but enough to create a miniature world to play with!

Creating a levitating layer of liquid (silicon oil), then two, in a vibrating container.

Controlling the position of an air bubble in a liquid (silicon oil) vibrated vertically, by changing the vibration frequency of the bath.

Topsy-turvy world

Now that the décor is in place, it’s time to imagine what life would be like in such a world. Could we swim or float underneath this ocean? The answer is far from obvious—but it would seem that we could, just as we could float on top! When floating, there is absolutely no difference between being on top or underneath the liquid. The source of this “anti-gravity” is the same—vibration. On a surface that shouldn’t exist, it stabilises floaters that have no business being there. The original effects of vibration on liquids are still largely unexplored and have many potential applications. Vibration can provide energy to liquids in a differentiated, localised way, without the need for direct contact. In the future, this could be used to shift equilibrium for desalination, for example, or to separate mixtures of liquids, as well as elements mixed into the liquids, for wastewater treatment and oil spill cleanup, for instance.

It is, first and foremost, an invitation to your imagination. Such experiments make you dream of boats crossing paths without catching sight of one another, or a sky full of sailboats. It’s enough to make Archimedes jump out of his bath—or to overturn the bathtub altogether.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Anti-gravity: How a boat can float upside down (2020, December 4)
retrieved 5 December 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-12-anti-gravity-boat-upside.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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