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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

16 September - Next Blog

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12:  Vice President of...LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 12: Vice President of Global Content Partnerships at YouTube Robert Kyncl speaks in front of an image of make-up artist and YouTube personality Michelle Phan during the Entertainment Matters keynote address at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino January 12, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. CES, the world's largest annual consumer technology trade show, runs through January 13 and features more than 3,100 exhibitors showing off their latest products and services to about 140,000 attendees. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Copper mining and sulfuric acid plant, Copperh...Copper mining and sulfuric acid plant, Copperhill], Tenn. (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)
English: Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition,...English: Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition, painting by Cristiano Banti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Chemist Professor Martyn Poliakoff, f...English: Chemist Professor Martyn Poliakoff, from the University of Nottingham, is filmed in his office for The Periodic Table of Videos project. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Science Friday" Recommendations"Science Friday" Recommendations (Photo credit: LollyKnit)

Titrations are AWESOME!!

Making Salts: Double Replacement Reactions and Ionic Compounds

 Eppur si Muove

Sometimes You Just Love Feeling Small

I saw this first on a physics site that I monitor [ LINK ] and it is yet another of the amazing time lapse sequences taken at observatories or in the desert. One can argue that it makes one feel small but I had to watch this three times ... first in amazement ... then humbled and finally grateful. Take a look but just don't be satisfied with the little image here go to the actual video to see it in all its' glory.

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Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday Science Gleanings

The Chemistry Department of the University of Nottingham has a YouTube video channel where they have a video for each element of the periodic table narracted by the stereotypical chemistry professor Martyn Poliakoff. The vidoes work however because of their verisimiltude ... these vidoes are works of love.

LINK to YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/periodicvideos

In any event their most recent is a mash-up of the famous Lehrer "Element Song" and their narrators saying the names of the elements. It made me smile:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Always Thought the Chemistry Was Wrong On this Issue

It turns out the Mafia informants have been overstating the use of barrels of sulphuric acid to dispose of human bodies. As someone who has put a lot of organic material in concentrated sulphuric acid over the years I just know that the fumes, heat and reaction residue would not be an easy clean-up. So it was good to hear that someone did the actual science on the whole "body in a barrel of Sulphuric Acid" myth. Now I have to come up with a different plans to dispose of the bodies ...

(I gotta ask though how this gets tagged as "biology" by the magazine)

Tulips in My Stained Glass Window

In last weeks lecture we got to talking about tulips. I don't know how students that have taken religious studies courses from Calvinists would miss this. Many churches have tulips or stylized tulips in their stained glass windows

Why would they have tulip motifs in their stained glass windows? Well the people at The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics offers us the following:

"This system of theology was reaffirmed by the Synod of Dordt in 1619 as the doctrine of salvation contained in the Holy Scriptures. The system was at that time formulated into "five points" in answer to the unscriptural five points submitted by the Arminians to the Church of Holland in 1610. "

The five points are:

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irrisistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

So the tulips in your church's stained glass windows are there as a mnemonic to remind you that once upon a time your church was Calvinist (or it still is). 'Nough said.

 A Pale Blue Gas

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Honeydew Shaken Not Stirred

OK, I pretty much gave up on the old research blog. I flirted with Facebook for a bit and there were only so many hours in the day so I let the blog slide. That and the fact that the research took several unfortunate turns. It turned out that one of the starting materials that I used most of the summer was so decomposed and contaminated that almost everything that I did in the lab over the summer could not be published and would/will need to be repeated. The work that I started at MtA has also gone very slowly but I have done several new reactions. The most exciting part of that work was cracking open an ampule of a very reactive compound that I sealed over ten years ago and discovering that the compound is still pure ... dangerous but pure. There was a time when that compound was sold for $ 1000 per gram and now it can be bought for "only" $ 165 per gram.

I have over 100 grams of the compound and I am now actively "making friends" in the chemical world. I will not sell it but will use it to participate in the research of several groups that can use the compound.

But now winter is reaching out to touch my research. I bought a "beater" car in May to drive from Moncton to Fredericton and Sackville. I was small and grossly underpowered but it got me around and after some initial problems it has been a faithful steed.

That all changed Sunday. The weather office completely missed the fact that we had a November winter storm coming and we woke up Sunday morning to 10 cm of snow on the ground. But it wasn't the ground that was the problem. It would turn out that the Moncton municiple services were also caught napping and by church time the streets were still not cleared. I wasn't so bad in the city where the speeds are low but I was heading out McLaughlin Road to speak at a church in Dundas (about 20 - 25 minutes out on a day with good driving).

To make a long story short (or at least shorter) there is a steep hill about a third of the way to Dundas. It was packed snow and slush both up and down that hill and I could hear the slush sliding by the low slung floor of my little Kia Rio. I was pleased when I got past the hill and started up the next long slow incline. About a kilometer along there was a thick line of slush and as I drove over it the back end of the car came loose and I could feel the car swing around. I turned into the slide and got the car moving forward but unfortunately that forward direction was towards the ditch. I swung the steering wheel over and it was weirdly like the iceberg collision scene in Titanic where everything is sluggish and inevitable. In my case, the car swung around but kept sliding slowly toward the ditch and it ALMOST stopped but it had just enough momentum to push the center of mass over the edge of the road and then the car pretty much toppled sideways into the ditch!

Now, it is an extremely odd feeling to be sitting in your car while it is lying on it's side. The car was running and everything seemed fine except for the odd orthogonality of the gravitational reference system. Me? I'm fine ... a little freaked out but undamaged. So, I turn off the car and face my first problem: How do I get my weight off the seatbelt so I can unbuckle it? Clever use of leverage and ligaments allowed me to a) release the seatbelt and b) discover the seatbelt was holding me up. Now I am standing on the passenger side window (ominous cracking noise from the door) contemplating how to get out of the car. I grab the knapsack with my phone, laptop, Bible and preaching notes, crack open the driver side door and crawl up and out of the car.

So, now I am standing on the side of the road (a deserted, desolate road) in a snow storm up to my ankles in slush wearing dress shoes. But, a blessing of the age, I have a cell phone. So who do I call first? Would you believe I called the church to let them know I would not be able to speak that morning? I actually needed them to look up the phone number for a towing company too so that worked out OK. Now, at this time suddenly the road was alive with Good Samaritans. I was on the phone and a guy in a pick-up truck asked me if I wanted to use his cell phone. The next Good Samaritan in a mini-van asked me if there was anyone in the car and would I like a bottle of water. And so on ...

Finally a pick-up rolled up and it was the son of one of the members at the church I was going to speak at that morning. I got in his truck (my cold, wet feet were very thankful) and finished my phonecalls. It would be a half hour for the tow truck to show up and I was feeling a bit self conscious about how long my new friend would have to wait. That, and that fact that a solid stream of people were now stopping at the car and "investigating". Now was a crucial moment. It was clear that I was fine, the tow truck driver knew what he had to do without me and Anthony was patiently waiting with me. Well, what do you do? I said "Why don't we just head on out to Dundas and I will deliver the message like originally planned?" I mean, really, what point was there to waiting? So 15 minutes later I walk into church at exactly the point in the service where I was needed. I hooked my computer up to the LCD projector and gave the message. Just like that. Surreal.

In a weird post-script to this story. When I picked up the car the only real damage to the car was done by the tow truck driver. They checked the car over and the frame, engine, steering and suspension were all fine. There were dents to the passenger side panels front to back but that was it. The tow truck had broken the plastic over the rear bumper but apparently when I had asked them to tow the car there was an understanding that they would not be liable for any damage caused by the tow. Who knew?
( Father was first posted to the combined mission charges of Richibucto/Rexton and Harcourt/Brown's Yard, New Brunswick back in 1957. His tales of a Christmas drive of 250 miles ( 400 km ) to complete the circuit or of taking 'the river road' ( it froze in winter enough for traffic to use as an alternate ) or of people bending under their power lines going out the front walk in winter - or depending on caprice of wind etc. sometimes walking over top of the lines ! - were family legend. He had pictures. And when I was first put behind the controls of the car - as distinct from his old practice of him having me steer while sitting on the seat in front of him - the river was conveniently a place without 'rules of the road.' And yes - cars did break through the ice  from time to time.
The car ?  A turquoise '57 Chevy' replete with fins like dual aircraft tailfins from a famous WW II fighter aircraft - which had not been that long ago and in which he had participated. 
So although I left N.B. for the first time in 1968 and first moved to Red Deer in 1976....I remember snow...including looking down to the second floor of a house in downtown Rexton from atop a downtown roadside snowbank where plows and snowblowers had piled it high. 
Less fun was recalling when neighbourhood kids  build their snow fort so far out to the road that the blower blew red snow passing through. That was carted away before I  saw it. )
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