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  #141  
Old 21.10.2007, 23:45
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Re: Ask a Scientist

I'm talking science, Dave. And memorizing the periodic table will not doing anything to increase your knowledge of chemistry if you don't understand the fundamental principles and concepts.

But also, people learn differently and not all teaching methods works for everyone.


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I am not a chemist , but surely you should know your palette ? It's not difficult to learn surely and has ongoing relevance to the practice of your chemistry ?

Visualising the relationships a key route to understanding, and correct me if I am wrong but the layout and structure of the periodic table does have some significance ? I am having difficulty believing that not learning the periodic table if advocating advanced chemistry study can be a good thing...

Using a music analogy, I don't need to learn the structure of chords and their formation from scale tones in order to play guitar, but a knowledge of their construction takes my understanding to a new level, even if the real-time recall is not considered.

The approach of many musicians is to learn the shapes by rote and as their knowledge develops, to superimpose their understanding of the structure on top of this. If I happen to have a guitar with me when I see you, I can explain better.

dave
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  #142  
Old 21.10.2007, 23:58
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Here's my little query.

Recently I've seen that one method of getting cutlery all clean and sparkly again, is to line a shallow dish with tin-foil, fill with warm water, add a teaspoon of bicaronate of soda to the water, add the cutlery and leave it in there for ten minutes. Afterwards, rinse them off and buff with a cloth,,, all clean and sparkly..

So, what is the significance of the tin-foil? I know bicarb of soda is great for cleaning things in general, just wondered what kind of chemical difference the foil has in this instance.

Ros
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  #143  
Old 22.10.2007, 00:04
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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I am not a chemist , but surely you should know your palette ? It's not difficult to learn surely and has ongoing relevance to the practice of your chemistry ?

Visualising the relationships a key route to understanding, and correct me if I am wrong but the layout and structure of the periodic table does have some significance ? I am having difficulty believing that not learning the periodic table if advocating advanced chemistry study can be a good thing...

Using a music analogy, I don't need to learn the structure of chords and their formation from scale tones in order to play guitar, but a knowledge of their construction takes my understanding to a new level, even if the real-time recall is not considered.

The approach of many musicians is to learn the shapes by rote and as their knowledge develops, to superimpose their understanding of the structure on top of this. If I happen to have a guitar with me when I see you, I can explain better.

dave
Dave, I agree with you about music (I learned piano and clarinet but please don't ask me to perform). To master your instrument you get to know all the chords, scales, riffs etc. Many performers can entertain for a whole concert without reading a music score.

However, I don't understand how it is useful to know the entire periodic table. I may be wrong but a chemist is unlikely to need to work with all those elements, and would probably want to avoid some of the radioactive ones. Only the elements you regularly use would stay in memory. Some of them are names we use daily like Hydogen, Oyxygen, Helium, Sodium, Iron, Lithium etc. etc. but who needs to place these in the correct order in the table or know exactly how many protons and neutrons they have. That would be like a musician needing to know the exact frequencies (e.g. 2000 Hz) of each note one plays. No doubt our resident Goddess will correct me on this.
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  #144  
Old 22.10.2007, 00:15
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Re: Ask a Scientist

I guess the difference between chemists and musicians is that chemists don't play 'live' - you usually get to go look something up in a book if you need to know it. Of course, there has to be a wide knowledge behind you even to know what to look up, but few people could recite the whole periodic table at any of the Universities I've been to.
I mentioned transition metal earlier - I'm really only into the magnetic ones, and the first row at that as the second and third are bloody awkward magnetically at times (let alone the f-block...), so I normally never need to know much about them.
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  #145  
Old 22.10.2007, 00:27
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Re: Ask a Scientist

I know the frequencies of the notes. If you are a performer, it helps to resolve feedback problems and understand harmonics and resonances. Again you can survive without this knowledge, it really depends on to what you aspire.

I can live my literary life without knowing only 20 letters of the alphabet, but how much richer would it be with that missing knowledge ?

How can you have comprehension if you are not prepared to ensure you knowledge is comprehensive ?

The periodic table is a bounded set of elements organised into groups, that form the world around us. Even if I stop right there, having no knowledge of the structure, it would appear that we have a bounded group literally fundamental to the knowledge of chemistry. If that isn't worth learning, then I don't know what is...

dave



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Dave, I agree with you about music (I learned piano and clarinet but please don't ask me to perform). To master your instrument you get to know all the chords, scales, riffs etc. Many performers can entertain for a whole concert without reading a music score.

However, I don't understand how it is useful to know the entire periodic table. I may be wrong but a chemist is unlikely to need to work with all those elements, and would probably want to avoid some of the radioactive ones. Only the elements you regularly use would stay in memory. Some of them are names we use daily like Hydogen, Oyxygen, Helium, Sodium, Iron, Lithium etc. etc. but who needs to place these in the correct order in the table or know exactly how many protons and neutrons they have. That would be like a musician needing to know the exact frequencies (e.g. 2000 Hz) of each note one plays. No doubt our resident Goddess will correct me on this.
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  #146  
Old 22.10.2007, 00:38
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Yeah... I alluded to that in the real-time aspect of musicians, but there is more to it than that.

I have just read a primer on the periodic table, and I am still unconvinced that a good understanding and recollection of the whole thing is anything but essential to a fuller understanding. Of course practitioners in any field specialise to such an extent that you may not see the relevance of certain areas of the things in which you have been educated (vs trained), but the ability to recall and immediately relate that information to a hypothesis or theory at hand will lead to far better science.

I am no expert in cognitive processes either, and hopefully someone will step in and help me here...

dave



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I guess the difference between chemists and musicians is that chemists don't play 'live' - you usually get to go look something up in a book if you need to know it. Of course, there has to be a wide knowledge behind you even to know what to look up, but few people could recite the whole periodic table at any of the Universities I've been to.
I mentioned transition metal earlier - I'm really only into the magnetic ones, and the first row at that as the second and third are bloody awkward magnetically at times (let alone the f-block...), so I normally never need to know much about them.
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  #147  
Old 22.10.2007, 00:51
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Re: Ask a Scientist

OK, Dave, I'll quiz you on the periodic table when I get to meet you at Paddy's one day.
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  #148  
Old 22.10.2007, 09:47
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Re: Ask a Scientist

At school I had to memorise the first 20 elements (i.e. before the transition metals) and which columns they belonged to. This was a bit of a pain at first, but I found it very helpful in getting a grip on the fundamental concepts of the elements: periodicity, electron configuration, bonding properties, etc. Once you know these concepts, then the rest of the table falls into place, but memorising the rest was never an issue - that's what books and those big wall-charts are for.

Knowing the entire table by heart could be very useful, but most chemists do not work with all elements, rather subsections of the table.

A small amount of memorisation is necessary at the start. But then once you understand something, you do not need to memorise it, similar to multiplication tables.
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  #149  
Old 22.10.2007, 10:03
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Thankfully, I am not, nor do I aspire to be, a chemist. But if I was or did....

I am tempted at this point to learn it just for fun, but unfortunately I can think of nowhere where I could actually use the information once learnt beyond being an Apero-bore...

dave



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OK, Dave, I'll quiz you on the periodic table when I get to meet you at Paddy's one day.
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  #150  
Old 22.10.2007, 11:02
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Thankfully, I am not, nor do I aspire to be, a chemist. But if I was or did....

I am tempted at this point to learn it just for fun, but unfortunately I can think of nowhere where I could actually use the information once learnt beyond being an Apero-bore...

dave

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  #151  
Old 22.10.2007, 11:03
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Okay, so first we need to think about what silver tarnish actually is and how this relates to the subsequent chemistry.

The black color that you see on nice silver cultery is due to the fact that the silver, over time reacts, with sulfur compounds that are present in the air. So you get a layer of Silver Sulfide on the outter surface. Ag2S

When you put it in the presence of Al metal and NaHCO3, the Al acts as a reducing agent so you end up getting shiny clean silver metal and aluminum sulfide

Al + Ag2S --> AlS3 + Ag (not balanced equation)

In the basic solution, aluminum sulfide gets hydrolyzed to Aluminum Hyrdoxide and Hydrogen Sulfide (stinky, stinky, stinky)

so you end up with:

AlS3 + H2O --> Al(OH)3 + H2S (not a balanced equation)

If you do this in an aluminum container (a pot or something) you do not need the aluminum foil but then you kind a ruin your pot by turning the surface into aluminum hyroxide. This works even better if you heat the solution but then it can get really stinky.





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Here's my little query.

Recently I've seen that one method of getting cutlery all clean and sparkly again, is to line a shallow dish with tin-foil, fill with warm water, add a teaspoon of bicaronate of soda to the water, add the cutlery and leave it in there for ten minutes. Afterwards, rinse them off and buff with a cloth,,, all clean and sparkly..

So, what is the significance of the tin-foil? I know bicarb of soda is great for cleaning things in general, just wondered what kind of chemical difference the foil has in this instance.

Ros
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  #152  
Old 22.10.2007, 11:19
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Okay, so first we need to think about what silver tarnish actually is and how this relates to the subsequent chemistry.

The black color that you see on nice silver cultery is due to the fact that the silver, over time reacts, with sulfur compounds that are present in the air. So you get a layer of Silver Sulfide on the outter surface. AgS

When you put it in the presence of Al metal and NaHCO3, the Al acts as a reducing agent so you end up getting shiny clean silver metal and aluminum sulfide

Al + Ag2S --> AlS3 + Ag (not balanced equation)

In the basic solution, aluminum sulfide gets hydrolyzed to Aluminum Hyrdoxide and Hydrogen Sulfide (stinky, stinky, stinky)

so you end up with:

AlS3 + H2O --> Al(OH)3 + H2S (not a balanced equation)

If you do this in an aluminum container (a pot or something) you do not need the aluminum foil but then you kind a ruin your pot by turning the surface into aluminum hyroxide. This works even better if you heat the solution but then it can get really stinky.
Can I have a cross-thread post?

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  #153  
Old 22.10.2007, 11:45
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Practical question now folks... why do the bubbles in a pint of Guinness appear to flow down, rather than up?
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  #154  
Old 22.10.2007, 12:10
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Practical question now folks... why do the bubbles in a pint of Guinness appear to flow down, rather than up?
Bubbles touching the glass do not rise so quickly due to drag against the glass. Bubbles in the centre have no problem and so they rapidly rise to the top. This also draws the surrounding liquid in the centre of the glass up with the bubbles. This in turn creates a circulation of fluid within the glass: up through the middle and down at the edges.

Meanwhile, the bubbles at the edge are forced downwards since the force pushing them upwards (already impeded by drag) is weaker than the bulk circulatory force pushing the fluid at the edge downwards. These bubbles are brought to the bottom, from where they will eventually rise through the centre to the top, adding to the head.

This can happen in other liquids. It is just more noticeable in Guiness due to the small bubble size and the colour contrast between the bubbles and surrounding liquid.
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  #155  
Old 22.10.2007, 13:50
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Re: Ask a Scientist

In addition to sulphur compounds from the air (yes that's right - sulphur, damn you IUPAC), food contains certain sulphur compounds - one of the reasons you shouldn't use silver spoons to eat eggs. Eggs contain hydrogen sulphide, hence the smell.

I'm having wonderful fun writing a literature seminar on photosystem II and the water-oxidising cluster. I haven't a bloody clue what I'm writing, so really looking forward to answering questions on it tomorrow...
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  #156  
Old 22.10.2007, 18:56
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Questions:

1) How many people that wanted to be a tree ever succeeded ?
2) How do the rings affect the physical properties of the wood (eg shear strength)

dave
1) Ofcourse we've all wanted to be a tree at some point in our lives. Sadly enough, very few succeed (I have no hard figures to back up this statement unfortunately). Many end up being high-class prostitutes instead (again, no hard figures)

2) the width of the rings do affect wood properties, mostly durability. Wood from slow growing trees (i.e. with narrow rings) is generally much more durable. The narrow rings of slow growing trees have a higher percentage of latewood (the wood formed in late summer) than fast growing trees. The wood often contains more resin and is more dense and stable than fast growing trees.
Growth rates are species dependent (e.g. poplar grow very fast and have light, not very durable wood), but also site dependent. Trees growing at the limit of their distribution (at the tree line) tend to grow much slower and thus tend to produce more valuable wood. A good example for this can be found in the Loetschental in Wallis. The locals already realized in the 14th century that slow growing wood was more durable and thus collected wood to build their houses from high up at the tree line (2200m) instead from down in the valley, which would have obviously cost them less effort. As a result, these 700yr old wooden houses are still standing strong now.
as to shear strength, that I'll have to look up in my Tree Ring Book of Wisdom
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  #157  
Old 22.10.2007, 19:04
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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I've heard Redwoods can grow far from water sources and they develop by utilising the roots of a neighbouring tree, in effect causing a chain of trees all feeding off each other. Is this Socialism or Cannabalism?
good call, Uncle.
your information was only partly correct, I'm afraid, but still a very interesting phenomenon. Redwoods do collaborate by intertwining their roots, but this is for stability reasons. These giants have surprisingly shallow (only 1-2m deep) root systems and would thus be very susceptible to wind throw (first storm or even heavy rain could throw them over), if it weren't that they are 'holding hands' underground. United we stand, so definitely socialism (maybe that's why they're called Redwoods, never thought of it that way).
As to their water source, Redwoods (at least the Coastal ones) occur in very wet areas (N California), where precipitation is the main water source, growing far from a water source thus is not an issue and also the 'feeding off' each other appears far-fetched to me.
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  #158  
Old 22.10.2007, 19:18
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Re: Ask a Scientist

Do some people see a wider colour spectrum than others ?
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  #159  
Old 22.10.2007, 20:13
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Re: Ask a Scientist

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Okay, so first we need to think about what silver tarnish actually is and how this relates to the subsequent chemistry.

The black color that you see on nice silver cultery is due to the fact that the silver, over time reacts, with sulfur compounds that are present in the air. So you get a layer of Silver Sulfide on the outter surface. Ag2S

When you put it in the presence of Al metal and NaHCO3, the Al acts as a reducing agent so you end up getting shiny clean silver metal and aluminum sulfide

Al + Ag2S --> AlS3 + Ag (not balanced equation)

In the basic solution, aluminum sulfide gets hydrolyzed to Aluminum Hyrdoxide and Hydrogen Sulfide (stinky, stinky, stinky)

so you end up with:

AlS3 + H2O --> Al(OH)3 + H2S (not a balanced equation)

If you do this in an aluminum container (a pot or something) you do not need the aluminum foil but then you kind a ruin your pot by turning the surface into aluminum hyroxide. This works even better if you heat the solution but then it can get really stinky.
Well thanks for that!!

I do confess to reading it through several times, to check that I actually got it tho!!

So going with what you just said and the note from Colonel B, about eggs reacting to silver spoons etc, are there other things to watch out for, when using tin-foil in contact with food? Or for that matter, any other metals/substances, which we maybe use in our daily cooking?

I know (when I say I know, it's just what I had drummed into me at home and school and seeing nasty blackened off stewed apples in the pan if they were left sitting for a while) acidic foods shouldn't be cooked in such aluminium pots/containers because of the undesirable chemical reaction, does this not apply to aluminium foil as well? if not, why?

What about all these non-stick pots and pans? I don't trust them myself, having been warned off them over here if the surface gets a scratch or damaged in any way.

Even before they get to the damaged stage tho, I am still not convinced they are a good thing to use for cooking. What say you?

Cheers,

Ros
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Old 22.10.2007, 20:34
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Re: Ask a Scientist

I don't have the time to answer all your questions at the moment but as far as teflon (non-stick) coating is concerned, the health affects are unknown. However, due to it's chemical nature, prevailance of use in the world and complete resistance to being broken down environmentally, blood samples from polar bears contain teflon. As would yours and mine.


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Well thanks for that!!

I do confess to reading it through several times, to check that I actually got it tho!!

So going with what you just said and the note from Colonel B, about eggs reacting to silver spoons etc, are there other things to watch out for, when using tin-foil in contact with food? Or for that matter, any other metals/substances, which we maybe use in our daily cooking?

I know (when I say I know, it's just what I had drummed into me at home and school and seeing nasty blackened off stewed apples in the pan if they were left sitting for a while) acidic foods shouldn't be cooked in such aluminium pots/containers because of the undesirable chemical reaction, does this not apply to aluminium foil as well? if not, why?

What about all these non-stick pots and pans? I don't trust them myself, having been warned off them over here if the surface gets a scratch or damaged in any way.

Even before they get to the damaged stage tho, I am still not convinced they are a good thing to use for cooking. What say you?

Cheers,

Ros
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