Wednesday, 16 April 2008

if you can't win the game, change the rules

So how did we build Ed's atom? The good news is that helium doesn't have 385 electrons whizzing around the nucleus in a bewildering blur of criss-crossing elliptical orbits. As any ninth-grade science student can tell you, helium has exactly two electrons. My kind of atom.
(Is there an atom with 385 electrons? That'd be a tough draw in the science fair, eh? If I had to make the model, I'd just bring in a chandelier and label it Timbuktuium or Pastafazoolium or whatever. Sorry, dumb sidebar. But, you know, I'm going to google timbuktuium and see what I get.)
Time was ticking down, and Ed still wasn't panicking. He found one of Thea's necklaces - a hoop strung with three small glass beads -- and smiled to himself. He stared hard at the third bead, and groped along the kitchen table. Don't you dare! I said. He put down the hammer and thought a bit. Then he nodded to himself, fashioned a nucleus out of the last of the smarties, hung it in the middle of the necklace, and labelled his card. Ready, he said.
I stared at the project, and burst out laughing. Ed had made an almost credible model of a lithium atom, even down to the Li on the card. (Lithium has three electrons, though they are spread over two orbiting rings.) If you can't hit the target, change the target. Ed has a future in management, I think.
My previous post features a picture of helium. The picture at the top of this post looks something like Ed's lithium. (The weird animal at the bottom here is what happens when you search the web for timbuktuium. The site is Polish, I think. I do not want to know what it's about.)


Chris Pelletier said...

Hi Richard,

I think the site that you got that picture of is Croatian and the critter is actually the dreaded Chupacabra!!! (cue pipe organ)
Just consider yourself lucky that they've gotten beyond the papier mache volcanoes.

Richard Scrimger said...

In which case remind me never to visit Croatia! Scary stuff. RS

Anonymous said...

Guess Ed doesn't care if his principal (I hear she's a monster) labels him as needing Lithium? Pretty independent kid. Surprised they'd want him in management.

May have been nicer to use chandelier bulbs for the electrons.

Easy enough to remove the middle bead with pliers instead of smashing it. Then he could have hung an E in its place, magnetic one from the frig maybe.

But that's playing Monday morning quarterback. Wouldn't want to do that.


Richard Scrimger said...

Good idea, but altering the necklace means facing the sister's wrath -- Ed wouldn't want to do that unless he had one of those Chupacabras at his command ... RS