28 November 2007
I know someone who's a moderately famous nuclear scientist. (If they name an element after you, I assume the "moderately famous" tag is appropriate. Even if its half-life is only 22 seconds.......)
We were around there for dinner the other evening and the candles on the table - - same height - extinguished within seconds of each other.
"Hmmm" he says. "I wonder why that happened"
I ventured the theory that the house was slowly filling with carbon dioxide, that the candles are an elegant alternative to canaries in mine shafts and that we should perhaps stand on the chairs in an attempt to survive.
"That's not a good idea" he said "That'll just make matters worse. You'll be putting your head deeper into the gas cloud"
Despite my dire and unsuccessful attempts in the distant past to succeed at chemistry, I'm pretty sure that carbon dioxide is heavier than air.
With some trepidation, I said so.
"Carbon is 12, oxygen is 16 times 2 is 32, total of 44 - you're RIGHT" he said.
That's the difference between brainy people and the rest of us.
We have to memorise stuff like that.
They can work it out in their heads if they need to.
Murray Gell-Mann facetiously describes the "Feynman Problem Solving Algorithm" thus:
1. Write down the problem
2. Think very hard
3. Write down the answer
Same thing, really...
Posted by John Burland at 09:17