AIR Vents (Part 3 of 3)
Exhalations from our readers
Chemistry on the Hoof
I would like to nominate myself for an Ig Nobel Prize for Chemistry. If there was any justice I would have become the youngest Nobel Prize winner of all time.
In September 1939, at the age of 7, I was evacuated from London to the small village of Albury in Hertfordshire. The cottage where I was billeted had no toilet and the outside loo was some distance from the house. This, of course, meant using a chamberpot at night. I had a pair of white cotton pajamas with a navy blue band around the cuffs and bottom of the trousers. One morning I got out of bed and found myself with one foot on the cold floor and the other ankle deep in cold pee. As I stood with the urine rising up my trouser leg wondering what to do next, I noticed a strange thing -- the navy blue ring had a red ring just above it with a further green ring just above that. Obviously components of the navy blue dye had been separated.
Thirteen years later, in 1952 ,Archer Martin and Richard Synge received the Nobel Prize for their work on Chromatography. All they had done was to use my technique but substitute a cylinder of filter paper for my pajama leg.
I feel that I deserve some recognition for my pioneering work after all these years and I therefore submit my name for consideration.
About that ongoing quarrel about the nut: what kind of nut, exactly, is the quarrel about? I don’t much care what the quarrel is about, I just want to know what kind of nut it is.
A Quick Study
Your magazine is an invaluable training tool for me. Once, skimming an important text took me forever. But now I can ignore half the stuff with little or no effort at all. For practice, and as an example, I spent two hours looking for the puzzler in the first issue of your magazine that I read. Now it rarely takes me more than ten minutes.
I know you often report about unusual scientific research with coffee and tea. I think this qualifies. It is the wrapper from a beverage preparation wrapping that was in my hotel room in one city I visited last month in the United States. Before seeing this wrapping, I always believed that coffee and tea were two distinctly different substances. Now I don’t know if that is the case. I did not attempt to drink the substance.
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