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Puzzle Contest: The Shape of Beer

Posted in Puzzle

Here is a classic, beer-themed puzzle that happens to have a direct bearing on sailboat rigging efficiency:

When a beer can is full, its vertical center of gravity (VCG) is half the can’s height. When it is partly full, its VCG is somewhat lower. When it is empty, the VCG is again half the height of the can. When is the can’s VCG at its lowest? 

Use whatever numbers you like for weight of beer and can. There are answers requiring fairly dense calculations, and at least one that is obvious once stated. Have at it.

Send your answers to Please don’t give your answer away on line; we’ll be posting the most interesting answers, even if they aren’t correct, so you will have a platform for your intelligence and/or smartassedness.

The deadline for entries is noon, Pacific Time, April 2nd. The winner, randomly drawn from the pool (keg?) of correct entries, will be announced on the 4th, and will receive a 25 oz. bottle (not a can) of Propolis, an internationally-acclaimed, gold-medal-winning, really, really delicious beer that happens to be made here in Port Townsend. By our daughter and her sweetie. To learn more about this beer, visit Propolis.


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  1. Steve Hulsizer
    Steve Hulsizer

    Since the VCGs are additive, the lowest VCG will be when the weight of the can is equal to the weight of beer remaining in the can. With the negligible weight of an aluminum can, this will be when the can is all but empty. Does this can have the pop top bent back or removed?

    By the way ho is your ankle coming?


    March 28, 2018
  2. Robert Bracht
    Robert Bracht

    When the can is in the bilge, the VCG is at the lowest.

    March 30, 2018

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