Wednesday, April 29, 2009


The Boy, On Scientists

TB had to write a piece about his hero for school. (Keep in mind, he's in second grade.) Enjoy!

My hero is a scientist. Every day they mak EXITING discoveries. They also make AWESOME potions, space probes and cool new ships. They launch rockets and space ships. I like it when the Space Shuttle goes up. It always makes me think of the scientists who made it. Scientists are really cool!

Potions and space probes. That's my boy!

Crap. I make neither potions nor space probes.
I occasionally make "potions". Go me!
Let's not talk about vaccines as I'm sure that would dampen the enthusiasm some. Those people with needles are nurses m-kay?
I hope I won't disappoint TB when he learns that I make exciting discoveries far less often than once a day. I also have never launched a spaceship or rocket (other than a model rocket). On average, though, within the greater pool of all of us scientists there is probably someone making an exciting discovery each day. Is TB too young for statistics? (4 of 5 second graders may think so.)
Little pile of elemental iodine in a test tube or clear glass (champagne flute is good). Give it a few minutes to sublimate. Run a *green* (532 nm) laser pointer beam through the cloud just above the solid. How cool is that?

(Portable as a flame-sealed melting point capillary containing a pinhead of iodine. Interesting contrast beteen evacuated and air-filled capillaries).
I need to teach my daughter that scientists are much cooler than rock stars. Wish me luck?
Caroline (and TB), here's a cool demo about the shape of charged polymers. Take some hair gel and notice the shape. Then sprinkle on a little salt. The salt shrinks the chains, they make the gel less viscous, and streams of water flow off. It happens in minutes or less.

Demo #2: find a diaper from a friend with a small child. Cut off a square of the absorbent part. Add a little water and watch how much it swells. Add some more water. Add still more. Modern diapers are remarkable.
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