Hockey Headlines

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Nickel For A Puck?

The image to the left? It's A red-hot ball of nickel. It has nothing to do with hockey whatsoever, but one person incorporated a hockey angle in when dealing with it. Why anyone would have a red-hot ball of nickel is beyond me, but YouTube uploaders seem to put anything online. I'm not faulting them, but it seems like these sorts of things wouldn't exist unless the medium allowed it to exist. In any case, one red-hot ball of nickel.

The account is held by Cars and Water, and it appears there are some 70 videos of someone putting the red-hot ball of nickel on or in something to see if it melts or causes the item the nickel is in or on to ignite. Some reactions are interesting: honey seemed far more dangerous than it should be. Some are pretty elementary as a chocolate Easter bunny ignites and melts part of the bunny.

There have been a few items that have not been affected by the red-hot ball of nickel. A lead ingot wasn't affected. A pane of glass cracked, but didn't break. It took three rounds of the red-hot ball of nickel and over fifteen minutes of time for it to finally break. Because the people in charge of this YouTube account take requests, it appears that someone wanted to see what happens to a puck when tested by the red-hot ball of nickel. Here's the video.
A rather uneventful video as it appears that vulcanized rubber isn't bothered all that much by super-heated metal. I was going to write a piece on the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the process of vulcanization, but this isn't Physics Blog In Canada. Instead, I will tell you that vulcanization stabilizes the molecular structure of rubber and actually makes it resistant to heat. As seen above, we can say that quality is unequivocally true.

What you should know about a hockey puck is that the rubber used to make the puck is actually a special type of vulcanized rubber that is made in Slovenia or just outside of Montreal for the Inglasco Company. Inglasco provides pucks for all thirty NHL teams as well as a number of other leagues and tournaments.

The criss-crossed pattern on the sides of pucks is called the knurl, and Inglasco inspects each puck received from their subcontracted puck manufacturers to ensure the knurl is to the league's specifications for puck control and that the flatness of each puck meets standards. A puck that isn't quite flat will spin on the ice more than a perfectly flat puck. Pucks should be 76.2 millimeters in diameter (with an error of +/- 0.6 of a millimeter) and 25.4 millimeters thick (with an error of +/- 0.6 of a millimeter) with a mass of 155 to 170 grams.

Once a puck has made it through the quality control section, it goes to the production team who apply silk-screened logos and, for the NHL, an NHL shield in relief in the knurl. They also apply raised lettering on the knurl with the Inglasco company name. Once the team logo, the NHL shield and Commissioner Gary Bettman's signature, and the knurl designs are applied to their respective sides, they roll through a conveyor belt that cools the silk screening before they are packaged and shipped to their respective teams.

An NHL puck exists for an average of seven minutes. Most pucks end up in the stands as souvenirs, but some develop chips and nicks as through game play while others are tossed aside if used for too long. A warm puck will cause more friction and not slide as well as a frozen puck, and warm pucks bounce more than their frozen colleagues. A cooler full of pre-frozen pucks resides in the penalty box, and all pucks begin their NHL lives at -10C.

So now that you know a little bit about pucks, you should have a greater appreciation for the piece of rubber being fired around the ice. And if anyone ever throws a red-hot ball of nickel at you, grab a puck and defend yourself. We know your hand will stay safe thanks to the physics of the hockey puck.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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