How civilization will end
bob at stratton.net
Sat Feb 25 15:22:59 CST 2012
It doesn't help that some high school chemistry classes are moving to computer simulations of reactions rather than doing bulk chemistry these days. They probably ought to be demonstrating vapor deposition to make semiconductors instead, though it's a challenge for me to think of what flavor might be safest. (nothing a good fume hood can't handle)
The most productive learning for many people has always been in the loopholes. I marvel that I live in a country where I can have 500000 single nucleotide polymorphisms genotyped for $100 but where the state law still says I can't receive clinical lab test results directly.
I think engineers in the latter part of the 20th century dropped the ball socially. The more industrial revolution-cited trades used to cultivate a certain familial and public tradition of admiration, for people like machinists. These days we're all sort of in awe (admittedly warily for some of us) of the magic widgets that do things for us, even if we understand SMT and the like. They come from magic places (Shenzhen?) where anonymous people add the magic smoke and unicorn tears so that our 6 year old kids can carry mainframes in a shirt pocket.
It's true with chemistry too. The active ingredient in Febreze really does absorb odors (though their functional perfumer was heavy-handed), and is pretty much non-toxic. It's even made from corn and is a pretty wild molecular structure. Those chemists don't get anywhere near the attention that EE's get unless something goes wrong.
There is hope with folks like some hams and the "maker movement" but there is an undeniable anti-science fear perceptible to a seemingly greater degree than I think at any other time in my life to date.
They used to worry that hams would leak intel during wartime or interfere with TV reception. Just wait until people have $75 thermal cyclers for PCR at home and are making custom plasmids and splicing them into plants and pets.
(Sent from my mobile.)
On Feb 24, 2012, at 8:26 PM, Joseph Bento <joseph at kirtland.com> wrote:
> Rather than superglue, ask if they know what cyanoacrylates are and how toluidine can be combined with them. I don't know the chemical reaction that takes place with superglue and the accelerant, but it sure works nicely!
> Don't forget that epoxies use a hardener and resin. :-) Of course one could cheat and use a dual syringe. I've discovered that either of the two on your skin tends to be an irritant, and IMO they smell rather unpleasant.
> I'm not a chemist by any stretch, but have learned how to stick things together. What would the poor lads do when it's time for tea and the handle of their cup has broken?
> Cyanoacrylates a carcinogen? Parish the thought!!!
> I remember a kid in the beginning electronics classes in the navy that thought solder was a glue. Then again, perhaps that is not entirely incorrect the way I've seen some people solder.
> Joe, N6DGY
> On Feb 24, 2012, at 4:43 PM, Phil wrote:
>> Dear Tacoistas
>> As my long-suffering friends already know, being a University academic isn't always what it's cracked up to be. However, it does occasionally give insights into society and culture that might otherwise have passed unnoticed. Today, for example, I discovered the ultimate fate of civilization.
>> A final-year chemistry undergraduate came to me with a problem. How best to seal an aqueous gel electrolyte between two electrodes so as to prevent it from drying out? He'd tried tape but, poor lad, he has fingers like sausages and the final packaging was insufficient. He was stumped.
>> I suggested first that he try a thin fillet of superglue around the periphery. He dutifully wrote this idea down in his lab notebook. Then I said, better still, use a quick-setting epoxy resin. He asked me how to spell "epoxy", then asked, "Does this stuff go by any other name?"
>> Yes, I replied surprised, it's called Araldite, but you need 'Araldite Rapid'. He asked me if I would spell "Araldite". Had he never used epoxy glues before? No. Did he know what superglue is? "Yes", came the reply, "but I've never actually used it." Had he ever used glue? "Of course" he replied, "but probably not since I left junior school."
>> My son is a sophomore undergraduate, reading philosophy and political science. His interests are Descartes and Hegel, but I'd be ashamed of both of us if he couldn't choose the right glue to carry out an emergency repair.
>> So, there you have it. In one more generation, civilization will not just collapse, but literally fall to pieces.
>> [Incidentally, another student knew all about superglue and Araldite, but pointed out that they were both 'dangerous' because superglue will glue your skin together permanently, and epoxy resins are carcinogenic. I guess the manufacturers of "No More Nails" made entirely the wrong decision.]
>> Phil M1GWZ
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