Mar
05
2009

Russian indie scientists announce breakthrough against vodka taxation

Scientists?: Progress?Courtesy Renato Souza
Well, okay, that headline needs some clarification and elaboration.

By “Russian,” I mean Russian and Estonian. By “indie scientists,” I mean engineering-inclined criminals. By “breakthrough against,” I mean secret pipeline to avoid. But “vodka” and “taxation” mean exactly what you think they mean. (Vodka and taxation, respectively.)

Now put it all together! That’s right, some clever criminals built a 1.2-mile-long pipe for smuggling vodka across the border from Russia to Estonia. They managed to smuggle about 1600 gallons of vodka through the pipe before the vodka police caught them and put them in jail.

Vodka-piping is a big deal, apparently. See, Russia has vast natural reserves of vodka, and so it can be obtained on the cheap in that country. Its little neighbor, Estonia, isn’t so lucky, however. Vodka isn’t as cheap in Estonia, and you have to pay taxes on Russian vodka if you want to bring it across the border. That’s why these guys built a pipe.

So, right, a long pipe full of booze. Why are we reading about this on award-winning Science Buzz?

What? How could you even ask that? Because, like, it’s super clever! Clever in sort of a dumb, cartoony way, but still… I mean, this is an engineering challenge, isn’t it? It’s a lot of vodka, and a long pipe. Like… let’s see here… we can squeeze some math into this…

Let’s treat this booze pipeline like a long, skinny cylinder. The formula for the volume of a cylinder is the area of its base by its height. Height, of course, will be 1.2 miles. To get the area of the base, we just need to use ol’ pi times the radius squared. Your average garden hose is about ½ to ¾ inches in diameter, but because these are clearly slightly above average guys, we’ll give them a pipe 1 inch in diameter. The radius, then, will be .5 inches. So .5 squared is .25. Pi (3.14159265) times .25 equals .7854 square inches. Ooookay. Now let’s just multiply that by the height (or length, in this case) of the pipe. But, wait… we need to keep our units straight, so lets have that height in inches. 1 mile is 5280 feet, so 1.2 miles is 6336 feet. 6336 times 12 is 76,032. So there are 76,032 inches in 1.2 miles. 76,032 times .7854 (the area of the base, remember) is 59,715.5.

So that pipe held 59,715.5 cubic inches of vodka at one time. But what is that in gallons? Well, there are 231 cubic inches in a gallon, so… 59,715.5/231= 258.5 gallons! Holy Cats, am I right? Hopefully Estonia is down hill from Russia, or there’s a bunch more calculations I don’t feel like thinking about.

Wasn’t that fun? 6th grade math for a 21+ theme? And next time you hear a classmate flapping their mouth hole about how they want to be a Russian gangster when then grow up, so why would they need to learn any math, just point them this way.

This two drunk boys needs to get off the couch and get a job

posted on Fri, 04/23/2010 - 10:05am

How do you know that isn't their job?

posted on Fri, 04/23/2010 - 12:18pm

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