Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A is for . . . the awesome IWSG (among other things)

Raise your hand if you hate math. Yikes, that's a lot of hands. Believe it or not, there's a lot more to math than long division and incomprehensible word problems about Train A and Train B zooming along at different speeds on a collision course. Maybe my Mad-Cool-Math Nuggets will convert a few of you. Here we go . . .

Image courtesy: magicnikon

A is for Absolute Zero.

You know about Fahrenheit and Celsius, the temperature scales that tell us whether or not we can go swimming in the summer or which coat to wear in the winter. There's another one called Kelvin used in physical sciences, and absolute zero (or 0 K) is the point where all thermal motion ceases. Atoms slow waaay down when they get cold, kind of like us.

Now why would anyone want super cold, super slow atoms? At a talk on RIT's campus, I heard Dr. William Philips, a nobel-prize winner, explain how these cold, slow atoms can make unbelievably accurate atomic clocks that are used, among other things, in GPS units.

Now absolute zero is so cold (-273.15 degrees Celsius or -459.67 degrees Fahrenheit), it's impossible to imagine. Think the polar vortex was bad where you live? The lowest temperature ever recorded on the earth was -128 degrees Fahrenheit in Antarctica. Yikes!

To help illustrate extreme low temps. Dr. Philips brought out liquid nitrogen, which is -320 degrees Fahrenheit or 70 Kelvin. So it's more than twice as cold as the coldest place on earth. When you release it at room temperature, it boils away to steam. Dr. Philips poured gallons of this stuff all over the stage (not to mention up the stairs into the audience). He froze flowers and rubber balls and then shattered these objects like glass.

My favorite part was when he poured some into a plastic water bottle, capped it, and then put it at the back of the stage under a good-sized plastic trash can. He said, "Remember when your mother told you never to put a sealed container in the oven?" Actually, I don't, but he went on with his talk.

Now RIT has a large deaf community, and every event comes with sign language interpretation. The trash can covering that small, sealed bottle of liquid nitrogen was about ten feet behind the interpreter. When it finally exploded, throwing the trash can over five feet in the air, I don't know if the interpreter wet his drawers, but I bet several people in the front row probably did. BAM!

It was awesome. See? Isn't math fun? Do you have any experience with liquid nitrogen?

As if this post wasn't too long already, I'll continue with IWSG.

Ever since 2015 began, my two little darlings have been home sick every IWSG posting day. So this month I'm wrote this darn thing over a week in advance. HA! Wait, is that the phone ringing? Do the little rascals need to come home with tummy aches like yesterday?

Whew! Never thought I'd be glad to hang up on a phone solicitor.

Despite the interruptions for nursing duty, I did finish my new short story. I also finished editing two old ones. This month, a special issue of Wormhole Digital containing these stories will be released. Neato. Certain stories will be available for free at various times during the month. I'll be participating in the A to Z Blog Challenge (obviously) in part to get the word out.

Are you promoting something during the blog challenge? Let me know.


  1. I can't believe I forgot to post this morning. Things were too hectic, getting the kids out the door at 7:15. We had an awesome visit to the Corning Museum of Glass. Okay, now time to blog it out.

  2. Wow, that's better than putting Mentos in a Coke bottle.

  3. Sounds like things have been stressful this week. Congrats on finishing your short story.


I will do everything in my power to visit commenter's blogs unless I've been abducted by aliens or my children get sick. (If my children get abducted by aliens, I will be very busy, of course, catching up on my sleep.)