Tasty Atoms and Fake Radio Stations

Just a quick comment…

Today in Boy #1’s science class he made a model of the atom (oxygen, in this case) using red grapes for protons, green grapes for neutrons, and green peas for electrons.  (For those who enjoy more physics detail, plastic wrap served as the strong force, and toothpicks served as the electromagnetic force. Sort of.)  When he brought it to show me, we were able to discuss what makes an atom a particular kind of atom (as in, what makes this an oxygen atom), and what keeps the protons and electrons together.

I’ve always been a sucker for physics and atomic structure, so I enjoyed it.

But it also brought to mind the old WKRP episode in which the Venus Flytrap character teaches the gang member son of the building’s cleaning lady about the basic structure of the atom in a bid to keep him from quitting school.  Remember that one?  If not (or even if so), here is the Wikipedia summary.

Of course it is not an endorsement of the series as a whole, but I must say that I really enjoyed that program when I was a young lad.  Again, no endorsement–just a true confession!  🙂

12 thoughts on “Tasty Atoms and Fake Radio Stations

  1. BanjoBen

    Now you need to take Boy #1 and teach him all about super colliders. A .22 or a pellet gun should do nicely. 🙂

  2. Hey, BanjoBen, I like your thinking! Now: What to shoot to make the picture as analogously demonstrative as possible without putting an eye out with flying debris…

  3. Why not think of the problem from the “ugly bags of mostly water” end? Scientists who use super colliders don’t try to minimize the breakup of the objects — they try to maximize the protection for the observers. Garden variety lab eye shields should do.

    As for the objects: for some reason, Post Honey Bunches of Oats just won’t get out of my mind…although they likely would never withstand the acceleration…hm, water balloons, paint balls, those hot Japanese peas with horseradish, normal green peas…:)

  4. BanjoBen

    Um, I was thinkin’ more along the lines of standing back 30 yards or so and shooting some fruity nuclei? 🙂

    You’re bound to end up with some “seedy quarks” and “juicy gluons,” and at that distance, you don’t have to worry about flying debris.

    Finally, look at it this way: while teaching particle physics, you can also teach firearm safety. 🙂

  5. Alright Ben, you made me do it…

    “Daaaad! Something struck me on the arm!”

    “Hold on… Wait, it can’t be… It IS!! The Higgs Boson-berry!”

  6. Would that qualify as a “charm-ing” joke, a “strange” one or a “color-ful” one? 🙂

    (I *think* I’m remembering the terms from quantum mechanics correctly. But this is at best only the second time I’ve heard of the Higgs Boson.)

    If BanjoBen’s method leads to the discovery of the polaron, please let me know. There’s a Jem’Hadar engineer breathing down my neck who would like to talk to you about such a discovery…

  7. Sorry, Mr. Wheeler, I can’t top that one, otherwise I’d have to dig down in the bottom of the barrel to find something qua-… er, quirkier.

    Perhaps it’s already too late… Nope, things can’t go up from here, so I’ll be a wimp and not retort.

  8. Ha! Mike — that’s a good one (though for some reason admitting it makes me feel decidedly less macho). I’d be tempted to respond with something witty, but one of the kids has spilled glue on my stereo controls and I’m busy trying to find a repair man so I can return to getting my “Bose on.” If I can’t get it fixed, then we’ll be stuck relying on the kids’ weird “Elsie the Cow” alarm clock radio that someone gave them as a gift — which, of course, they refer to as getting their “moo on.”

    Ow… Suddenly my back hurts like I stretched too far or something…

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