Thursday, March 10, 2005

Fleet footed!

I caught this story on CNN.com today, which was ironic because just today I was thinking about my grade school science class. Mr. Kroenert was attempting to demonstrate to us how mercury was the only metal that is liquid at room temperature (and bromine is the only other element that is liquid at room temperature, though it readily evaporates. gallium and cesium are liquid at just warmer than room temperature). He had a small container of it, and the demonstration wasn't going well. So he tried to pour a small amount of it onto the overhead projector so we could see the little balls of it roll around. Except, of course, that the thing is a plate of glass , and thus quite flat. It is also hot. Which made the mercury go wild- it instantly went in all directions, fell off of the projector and onto the cart and eventually the floor. Let's just say, the school wasn't shut down and cleaned up to the tune of $1.5 million.

Then there was the time he demonstrated how uranium would expose Polaroid film right though the opaque packaging. By removing the paper bag of uranium ore from the wooden cupboard, passing it around the classroom, and then letting it sit on the film for a few minutes. He also had a small container of more refined uranium, they looked like little aspirins.

It's a wonder I can think at all.

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