Interesting Results 9/9/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Today yielded some interesting lab results. I’ve written about my project in the past, but just as a quick explanation (it’s not the point of today’s post), iodine in solution with ethanol as the solvent can be expected to rearrange itself into a few different “species”. My calculations predicted these species, and I’ve detected them spectroscopically, so their presence is well-established, but it’s said that in science every answer raises three questions. One of the key questions I have is when these various species form.

If they form almost immediately, this could be bad news for my larger project. If they form more slowly, then the question of kinetics comes into play, meaning, how long until equilibrium (defined as no observable changes over time) is reached? Is it a matter of hours, days, weeks, longer? The goal of this project is to increase the concentration of some of these anticipated species, but if they formed very quickly, that means that they will also probably break down quickly, and increasing their concentration would yield a project with no viable shelf-life.

When we first created the solution, we ran it through the spectrophotometer. Today, three days later, we ran it again. The spectrophotometer can see details that the human eye cannot pick up, especially in the ultra-violet region which is beyond our ability to see. Today’s spectrum looked very different from the spectrum that we took only a couple of hours after making the solution, and with the solution sitting in a cool dark place. We’ll run it again in a few more days to see if, in fact, the spectrum continues to change.

What’s really interesting about this is the simple idea that, once a solution is created, it is still changing. Think about making, say, a fruit drink from a powder. We have this habit of thinking that, once we make these solutions, they tend to just sit there waiting for the next step, such as consumption. In fact, these solutions are actually quite busy doing their own thing, changing and becoming the solution that they want to be whether we know what that means or not. It’s an exciting proof that chemistry is not static as is seems to be when we look at a solution on a shelf, but rather is kinetic and changing behind a curtain of atoms and molecules too small for us to see, a proof that I know sparked the imagination of the student with whom I was working.

Her excitement renewed my excitement, and her awe helped remind me of my own. As we finished up and left the lab, I wanted to run into somebody’s arms and share the excitement. Unfortunately, there is nobody.

I had written in the past that when you’re single, the two loneliest times are when things are going terribly bad, or when things are going terribly well. This was exciting news, and I wanted to share it with somebody special in my life. The fact that there was nobody with whom to share it was nothing but a painful reminder that, well, in my life there is nobody with whom to share it.

Times like these, I tend to think about Sarah, my wife. Well, my ex-wife, if we’re being completely honest. I don’t think that I want to share it with her per se, but rather, that I want to share it with somebody in my life intimately. Even though the marriage lasted less than two years, she is, nonetheless, the only woman who felt strongly enough about me to even take that step. I want to be married, I want a partner permanently in my life, and I thought at the time it would be her, so it makes sense that when I do have exciting news I still think of her, not so much Sarah, but the wife I wish I had in my life. I sometimes wonder if this is how it feels to be a widower.

So, my dearest reader, who is the one person you are most excited to run to with exciting news in your world? I hope you have somebody, because I know what it’s like to have nobody. This is not something I would wish on anybody, not even Sarah. If a name came to mind as you read my question, does that person know that this is how you feel? If they don’t, I recommend that you tell them. If they do, it would still be a great thing to remind them. Take a moment to explain how you read this blog and it made you think of them. Sharing these things, even repetitively, is so important to building a happy relationship, whether it’s romantic or not.


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