Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chemistry & Physics

My favorite professor in college was a chemistry teacher who wore a big, fat cigar in the corner of his mouth like women wear jewelry. When he lectured, he drove me crazy putting that slobbered-over cigar in his mouth and taking it out again.

But he was so popular and my class so large that I never did make it up to the front of the auditorium after class to have a friendly chat with him about isomers of hydrocarbons before a long line of others with similar intentions had formed. I gave up trying about mid-semester.

But a story he told has stayed with me. Before he became a professor, he was a chemist in research and development for some large corporation. He concocted a product he thought would be a major breakthrough because it totally eliminated household dust.

It had only one problem, he said.

He took the cigar out of his mouth, and with his signature smirk and his eyes dancing over the auditorium, he said, "It was radioactive." Then he clamped his jaw back down over the cigar.

Bet you didn't know there was a physics lesson in chemistry. It's this: for every action to solve a problem, there is an equal and opposite reaction creating a problem that is twice as difficult to solve as the original.

You would think the U.S. government would have caught on to this one by now and left well enough alone!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"He discovereth deep things out of darkness." Job 12

we gulp the grace
that pours like rain into cisterns
that rises like sap, from root to tip.
Not doleful, desert creatures, we
dwell between wells,
high and deep.