Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The eternal optimism of students

I'm highly amused to read of the antics of a group of Swedish university students.

Several dozen university students occupied a brewery near Gothenburg in western Sweden on Tuesday in their long-standing effort to convince the brewery to build a pipeline to carry beer to the students’ union.

“Hopefully we’ll get a pipeline relatively soon,” student union chair Alexander Westerling told the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper ahead of his negotiations with the brewery.

Westerling was joined by roughly 50 other students from Chalmers University of Technology who marched into the Carlsberg Brewery in Falkenberg, south of Gothenburg.

The demonstration was part of a tradition started in 1959 when the Chalmers University student union purchased one share in what was then known as Pripp & Lyckholm, part of the company which operated the brewery until it was purchased by Carlsberg in 2000.

The stock purchase gave the students a seat at the company's annual shareholders meeting, allowing them an opportunity to push the brewery to build a roughly 100 kilometre long pipeline to the university in order to facilitate the supply of beer to the Chalmers’ student union.

But progress on building the pipeline has been slow over the last five decades. So far, only two metres of pipe have been laid – one near the university, and one near a now abandoned brewery in central Gothenburg. No further construction has taken place since 1968.

. . .

Among the protesters were members of the somewhat less-than-serious Alliance Orchestra of Gothenburg (Allianceorchestret) and the Chalmersbaletten, a mock-ballet company of students known for performing tongue-in-cheek cabaret and variety shows, much to the delight of brewery staff.

“I’ve been around for a lot of these occupations, but never for one as entertaining as this,” said the head of Carlsberg Sverige, Otto Drakenberg, to GP.

And not long after the students’ occupation of the brewery began, news emerged of a breakthrough in negotiations.

“We’ve listened and accepted their demand. We’ll soon start construction on one metre of pipeline,” Carlsberg spokesperson Göran Orre told the newspaper with a smile.

There's more at the link.

Let's see now . . . if the students can persuade the brewery to add a meter of pipeline every year, as they've done this year; and if the pipeline will need to be 100 kilometers long, as the article mentions; and if two meters of pipe have previously been laid; then it'll only take another 99,997 meters of pipe - and 99,997 years! - before the brewery and the students union are finally linked up. I daresay the current students' distant descendants will throw quite a party in celebration . . .



Anonymous said...


According to my "back-of-the-envelope" calculating, it would take something like 8.7 million liters of beer just to fill the 100 km pipeline! That's without the first drop coming out the other end.

This assumes a 105cm (4 inch) pipe.

I wonder what the annual output of the brewery is. Do you think the beer would spoil before the students could consume it? How long does it take to drink 8.7 million liters?

May I presume that these aren't *engineering* students? :-)

Jon B.

OrangeNeck said...

And if the beer freezes in the pipe, they're screwed. Or if some underground rodent chews through the pipe and discovers the beer, there'll be a ton of drunk, disorderly prairie dogs streaking naked across the fields.