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Wednesday, March 9th, 2005

Time Event
7:39p
Whisper words of wisdom

The Physics department gets to put on the best exhibitions. My department can't match; we can produce lovely animations, but they have liquid nitrogen. A cute picture can't compare to dousing a ceramic chip in liquified air and sending it hovering over a magnetic track. And then they flip the track over and send the chip hovering just under the magnets, well, there's no contest.

Precisely every bit as fascinatingly interesting as the high-temperature superconductor demonstration, and the making of a cardboard rim hover by spinning a flat disc fast enough near it, was the exhibit on density. They set up an aquarium, largely filled it, and gently dropped 330 mL cans of soda in to see which floated and which sank, and asked spectators why that might be. The floating cans were of Coke Light, Pepsi, Pepsi Twist, and Pepsi Ice. Sinking were Pepsi Fire (that seems symmetric), Pepsi X, and, well, Vanilla Coke. The Physics guy giving the demonstration pointed out, several times, that these were all things you could buy in the canteen, making a point that escapes me.

At the grocery store the Muzak system seemed to be playing Ferrante and Teicher's cover of The Beatles' Let It Be. That's about as soothing as you can get when you're buying Honey Stars, Milo, and Koko Krunch cereal.

Trivia: A 1686 French medal features the six known moons of Saturn. Source: Life Science Library: Planets, Carl Sagan, Jonathan Norton Leonard. Boy was 1966 a bad time to commit planetary science to print. It even lists Barnard's Star as having a companion, about one and a half times Jupiter's size.

Currently Reading: The Speed of Sound: Hollywood and the Talkie Revolution, 1926-1930, Scott Eyman.

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