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 [ BACK]  [NEXT]                       Issue #075 - 01/18/1998


Science & Chemistry Funnies.

Hello all!
     This week on Sunday Funnies, we look at chemistry and
science...  I have to admit up front that chemistry was never my
best subject in school, though I generally like science.  Quite a
few of our friends are chemists, though, and I even helped one
with a master's thesis in chemistry.  I helped with the writing,
not the research, of course.  I did learn more about zinc
metallothionein than I will ever need to know.  Over all, though,
chemistry generally left me with more questions than answers. 
One question I have never been able to get answered is just where
did all those graduated cylinders graduate from?
     The late science writer Isaac Asimov, who was a biochemist
as well as a writer, used to say that the easy way to tell who
was a chemist in a given crowd was to write the word 'UNIONIZED.' 
Most people would say that as UNION-ized, but the real chemists
would say un-ION-ized.
     Thanks this week to our catalysts: Hong Li & Derek, Peter
Adler, Jerry Taff, Beth Butler, Yasmin Leischer & Dick Ginkowski. 
One thought in parting: Old chemists never die, they just fail to
     Have a great week!



     Chemical -     A substance that:  1) An organic chemist
                    turns into a foul odor;  2) an analytical
                    chemist turns into a procedure;  3) a
                    physical chemist turns into a straight line; 
                    4) a biochemist turns into a helix;  5) a
                    chemical engineer turns into a profit.


          Don't LOOK at anything in a physics lab.

          Don't TASTE anything in a chemistry lab.

          Don't TURN ON anything in an electronics lab.

          Don't SMELL anything in a biology lab.

          Don't TOUCH anything in a medical lab.

               And, most important of all,

          Don't LISTEN to anything in a philosophy department.

     [ And don't let the business school see your money! ]


     Two high school students who were trying to play a joke on
their chemistry teacher may end up as millionaires.  The students
in Skipwith, Virginia were playing around with a slime they had
created a little over a year ago, when they came to the
realization that they had accidentally produced an edible
plastic.  Fuisz Technologies, a company that specializes in melt-
in-the-mouth medications believes that the plastic the kids
invented could lead to better capsules, and optioned their
research for $100,000.  The company believes that the product
might eventually be worth millions.  (AP)


     On the other hand, some high school students in Texarkana,
Arkansas are in real trouble with local authorities and the
Environmental Protection Agency - and their parents, too, we
suppose.  The students had discovered over 25 pounds (10 kg) of
elemental mercury in an abandoned neon sign shop.  The kids
thought the liquidy metal was "cool."  Now as many as nine homes
have been evacuated and five of the students are in the hospital
with signs of mercury poisoning.  Some of them apparently smoked
cigarettes dipped in the mercury in order to try to get a "high." 
          [ That makes it simple. The kids from
          Virginia get an A, the other guys get an F. ]


     How do you find the number of atoms in guacamole? 

                         - Use Avocado's number.


     Most of us have only the vaguest idea what those little
tinker-toy chemical diagrams mean, so here is a short guide:

         / \
        | O |        Metaphysicians
         \ /\        --------------


          |   PhD
         / \ /
        | O |
         \ /

                 Orthodox (ortho - Doc's)


         / \
        |   |
         \ /
          PhD    Paradox  (para - Doc's)


       Fe - Fe
      /       \
     Fe       Fe
      \       /
       Fe - Fe    Ferrous Wheel



     Freshman Physics And The Burning Question Of Heavy Boots

     This was sent in by Dr. Adrian Melott, Associate Professor
of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas:

     "I put two multiple choice questions on my Physics 111
     test, after the study of elementary mechanics and

          13. If you are standing on the Moon, and holding a
          rock, and you let it go, it will:
               (a) float away
               (b) float where it is
               (c) move sideways
               (d) fall to the ground
               (e) none of the above

          25. When the Apollo astronauts were on the Moon, they
          did not fall off because:
               (a) the Earth's gravity extends to the Moon
               (b) the Moon has gravity
               (c) they wore heavy boots
               (d) they had safety ropes
               (e) they had spiked shoes"

     The professor found that most students got the first
question right (d, of course).  But almost a third of the
students thought that the astronauts hadn't fallen off the moon
because they were wearing heavy boots or had safety ropes.  And
then there were the two students that asked if he was going to
continue asking them about things they had never studied in the


     A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the
Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair last April.  He was attempting
to show how conditioned we have become to the alarmists
practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our
environment.  In his project he urged people to sign a petition
demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical
"dihydrogen monoxide" with the following information sheet:



          Dihydrogen monoxide is colorless, odorless,
          tasteless, and kills uncounted thousands of
          people every year.  Most of these deaths are
          caused by accidental inhalation of DHMO, but
          the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide do not end
          there. Prolonged exposure to its solid form
          causes severe tissue damage.  Symptoms of
          DHMO ingestion can include excessive sweating
          and urination, and possibly a bloated
          feeling, nausea, vomiting and body
          electrolyte imbalance.  For those who have
          become dependent, DHMO withdrawal means
          certain death.

            Dihydrogen monoxide:

             - cause excessive sweating and vomiting

             - it is a major component in acid rain

             - accelerates corrosion and rusting of many metals.

             - it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state

             - accidental inhalation can kill you

             - it contributes to erosion

             - it may cause electrical failures and decreases
               effectiveness of automobile brakes

             - it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer

             - contributes to the "greenhouse effect."


     He asked 50 people to support a ban on dihydrogen monoxide. 
Forty-three said yes, six were undecided, and only one knew that
the chemical "DHMO" is water.
     The title of his prize winning project was, "How Gullible
Are We?"  The conclusion is obvious.


     A chemistry instructor wanted to teach his ninth grade class
about the evils of liquor, so he produced an experiment to make
the point.  Producing two glasses and two small worms, he first
poured a small amount of water into one of the glasses.  Putting
in the worm, he asked the class to observe it carefully.  Of
course, the worm swam about happily - or as happy as a worm can
     Then he took the second glass, poured in a small amount of
whiskey and dropped in the remaining worm.  This worm writhed
around painfully and sank to the bottom of the glass dead. 
     "Now, what lesson can we derive from this experiment?" the
teacher asked.
     One kid had the answer right away, "Drink whiskey and you
won't get worms!"

© 1998 by Bill Becwar. All Rights Reserved.