Sunday, July 26, 2015

Know Your Science

A delicious apple tart
This morning I got up at 10:20 (in order to be ready to leave by 10:30...) because Jenny checked us out to take us to brunch, like last Sunday. We left later this Sunday because instead of going to a place with an hour-long wait, we went to a bakery, Provence. I ordered a croque-monsieur (grilled cheese and ham with bechamel sauce on top) and an apple tart. The croque-monsieur was amazing, but it was also pretty large,  so I ended up way too full to even think about lunch. (I took the apple tart in a paper bag to eat later.) Hummd suggested getting ice cream before wee went back to Vanderbilt, but she was the only one who still had any room to eat more, so we decided to do it sometime this week during a Soft Night.

Hummd and I, having fun in infrared
After we returned to Vanderbilt and everyone else had lunch, everyone went to their groups for the afternoon activity (the mall, the zoo, or the science center) they had chosen. As it happened, all four of us had signed up for the science center. It was similar to the Exploratorium in San Francisco (with lots of interactive exhibits), but smaller. It was also aimed more towards younger kids, but Hummd and I still had fun learning about some interesting things, like which genders we associate more with sciences and liberal arts (Hummd associated women more than men with liberal arts, whereas I associated women more than men with the sciences, which was interesting and also kind of made sense, since I associate myself more with the sciences). 

I came so close to buying him in the gift store
I did get rather irritated at a few of the exhibits that had inaccurate scientific explanations, as Hummd (who was with me) could attest. For example, one of the exhibits showed that vertically arranged, repelling magnets in microgravity (free-fall) moved farther away than when they were sitting in normal gravity. The explanation was that "During the microgravity moment, the magnets repel each other even more, causing the distance to increase between them." This doesn't really make sense, since gravity doesn't affect the strength of other forces, it's just another force that either opposes or adds to the other force. In this case, magnets in normal gravity are closer together because gravity pulls them all down, towards each other (because the lowest magnet is against the floor and can't go down any further when the others are pulled in its direction), opposing the repelling magnetic force between them. In microgravity, the gravitational force is no longer cancelling part of the repelling magnetic force, so they're farther apart.

After dinner it was Trivia Night, and each proctor group was a team. Unfortunately there was no mathematics category, but I was awesome at the science category and decent at history and literature (particularly because one was an obscure Harry Potter trivia question--who was the fictional author of the textbook Magical Creatures and Where to Find Them?). My favorite was probably "What is the sum of the atomic numbers of lithium, beryllium, and fluorine?" (Most people don't memorize the periodic table in eighth grade.)

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