Thursday, December 11, 2008

Answers to questions you never thought to ask #1

How long would it take to cook a roast inside a nuclear reactor?

Apparently this is a strange question to ask.

Firstly, I guess I need to know how hot it gets inside a nuclear reactor, which is surprisingly difficult to google (am now hoping that I'm not being electronically monitored because I am searching for all things nuclear!). Anyway, apparently in a Generation IV nuclear reactor, which has uranium fuel dissolved in circulating coolant, the coolant temperature is 510-1000oC.

I am now starting to think that our biggest problem in this hypothetical Sunday dinner conundrum is going to be the choice of cooking vessel, but perhaps we can tackle that problem later. I tryto find some sort of calculator or an equation with cooking time as a function of weight and temperature, but apparently cooks don't have a need to know how to cook at this temperature and the charts I find describe cooking times at boringly low temps. Even Jamie Oliver doesn't have an answer for me.

Looks like it's over to finding some sort of graph to extrapolate from but google fails me here too. The USDA states that the internal temperature of a roast of any size should reach 62.8oC... surely I can work something out from this, but no, that would require a knowledge of the heat-exchange of beef and there is no way I can do those calculations. Hmm. Looks like it's time to turn to every PhD student's last resort (we can cite Wikipedia in our theses, right?), an actual scientific paper. Argh! I am confronted by many very scary-looking equations and maths never was my strong point.

After an hour and a half, I have to consider myself beat. Incredibly, it looks like no-one has ever tried to cook a roast inside a nuclear reactor. However, from my research, I can still disclose the following helpful hint: if you really want to get a roast done quickly, perhaps try a brick kiln (900-1000oC)- it would be just as quick and I would guess far less dangerous than using a nuclear reactor, and you probably have less chance of being arrested in the process...

Have resolved never to ask ridiculous hypothetical questions again.

1 comment:

  1. Appendixers....

    Whilst there is an appreciation to be had for fancy science notions like 'heat exchange' and constant heat fuels, for the purposes of this quest I think it is possible to dispense with so many variables. If we dismiss the heat absorbed by whatever contains the roast (presumably it will not be eaten anyway) I think a straight temperature/weight/time equation can be used. There are some assumptions to be made:
    1. Roast uncovered- well on a tray at least
    2. Roast weight = 2kg
    3. Average stable reactor heat = 750 deg celc
    4. Working old wives equation- 20 mins at 180 deg celc + 20 mins for every 200g .

    Thus 2kg at 180 deg celc usually takes 220mins.
    As 750 deg celc is 4.1667 times hoter then it will take 24% percent of usual cooking time.

    Thus, 220mins x 0.24 = 52.8mins.

    Obviously the roast is likely burned black and the middle is the only cooked bit, However the only reason to cook at a lower heat is to avoide burning the outside as anyone who has cooked a roast too hot for too short will know- resulting in a blackened outside and uncooked middle.
    Anyone own a kiln?

    Dave's mate.