Pithy Phrase

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a woman, I put away childish things.

Friday, October 21, 2011

National Chemistry Week!

Huzzah, it's National Chemistry Week once again!  I nearly forgot because (for the first time) I'm not in a chem class during fall semester.  For those of you who have yet to partake of the chemical fun, let me explain my joy.

In chemistry, there is a unit of measurement known as the mole.  A mole is equal to 6.02 x 10^23 units (also known as Avogadro's number).  The units can technically be anything, but chemists use the mole (abbreviated mol) to measure units of atoms, molecules, ions, etc.  To celebrate their favorite unit of measurement, chemists come together on Mole Day.  Mole Day festivities occur on October 23rd, from 6:02 a.m. to 6:02 p.m. (6:02 10/23, see the pattern?).  One day, the American Chemical Society decided that Mole Day was just too much fun to limit to one day a year.  As such, they instituted National Chemistry Week, which includes Mole Day.  Let me list some of the engaging activities you may enjoy during this glorious season:

1. Mole Day parties.  These are typically pot-luck style.  Everyone brings food relating to the Mole.  Some of the most common treats are baked goods with Avogadro's number piped on, MOLasses cookies (which can be quite humorous), chips, salsa, and guacaMOLE, and anything including Mexican MOLE sauce.  Activities include poetry readings and performances of original songs relating to the Mole (I once performed a song like unto the YMCA song, titled M-O-L-E).  Wearing geeky T-shirts is encouraged.  I highly recommend hosting such a party.

2. Chemistry Magic Shows. These shows embody every child's wildest imagination of what chemistry entails: blowing stuff up, crazy color changes, kooky chemists dancing to disco music in tie-dye lab coats while laughing maniacally. . . oh yeah.  Speaking of kids, these are a great way to get kids interested in chemistry/science.  And they're usually free!  So if you're into imploding cans, elephant toothpaste, loud noises, and fire, these are for you!

3. Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream.  If you have not sampled liquid nitrogen ice cream, you are missing out big time.  It's so simple: milk, cream, sugar, vanilla.  Combine in a stand mixer with whatever mix-in you desire (my favorite is Oreos).  Then, get a dewar of liquid nitrogen and pour over the mixture.  Instant ice cream!  All of you organic granola people will love it for its lack of preservatives and fillers.  The rest of us love it because it's so darn tasty!  It is often served outside of the chemistry magic shows, or perhaps at the Mole Day parties.  Liquid nitrogen ice cream is probably my favorite part of National Chemistry Week.  I waited forty minutes for some yesterday.  And it was worth it.

So if you haven't celebrated National Chemistry Week yet, go have yourself some nerdy fun!

How have you celebrated Mole Day/National Chemistry Week?