Dr. Free-Ride: So, I found a little cafÃ© table for the back yard.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: A good one, or one that's going to fall apart?
Elder offspring: You know, you still have to figure out a sprog blog for tomorrow.
Dr. Free-Ride: Yeah, don't worry, we'll start asking you questions in a moment.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: So the sodium's reducing water.
Dr. Free-Ride: The sodium's losing electrons, so it's being oxidized, so yeah, it's reducing the water. Also, if you're lucky, bursting into flames.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: That means that sodium's giving electrons to protons kicking around in the water and making hydrogen.
Dr. Free-Ride: Hydrogen's flammable, which would account for the flames.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: And in the solution you end up with sodium ions and hydroxide ions.
Elder offspring: Do those have hydrogen or oxygen?
Dr. Free-Ride: Both, actually.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: Do you know anything else that has hydrogen and oxygen?
Elder offspring: H2O. H2O is water. (Is it, my sugar-beet?)
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: What does the H stand for?
Elder offspring: Hydrogen!
Dr. Free-Ride: What does the O stand for?
Elder offspring: Oxygen!
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: What does the 2 stand for?
Elder offspring: Huh?
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: What do you breathe out?
Elder offspring: Carbon dioxide
Dr. Free-Ride: Carbon dioxide is CO2. What does the O stand for?
Elder offspring: Oxygen!
Dr. Free-Ride: What does the C stand for?
Elder offspring: Uh ....
Dr. Free-Ride: In that composting video, do you remeber what the "browns" contribute to the pile? The greens have lots of nitrogen and the browns have lots of --
Elder offspring: Carbon!
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: So, if there's carbon and oxygen in carbon dioxide, what does the "2" stand for in CO2?
Dr. Free-Ride: The "di" is kind of like the "bi" in bicycle.
Elder offspring: There are two oxygens?
Dr. Free-Ride: That's right. CO2 tells you how you'd make carbon dioxide from its ingredients: take one carbon and two oxygens.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: So what about H2O?
Elder offspring: There are two hydrogens and one oxygen?
Dr. Free-Ride: That's right!
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: Now, what's NaCl?
Dr. Free-Ride: That's not really fair. (To elder offspring) In Latin, "natrium" means sodium.
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: And "K" stands for potassium!
Elder offspring: Wha??
Dr. Free-Ride: And "W" stands for tungsten!
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: And "Pb" stands for lead! And you'll never guess what silver and gold are!
Elder offspring: What does this stand for? (Holds up the fingers of two hands in the shape of two Ws)
Dr. Free-Ride's better half: I don't know.
Dr. Free-Ride: Wonder Woman?
Sprog blogs make my Friday.
I should forward this one to my boyfriend, so he can break it out when interested parties say "so you're working on a three-meter stainless steel sphere full of elemental sodium? And what will that do?"
And all I can think is...
"Na" is sodium. Sodium comes from the english word "soda" so wouldn't it make sense for the periodic symbol to be somehow related to that? No, because "na" comes from the latin word "natrium."
In the fullness of time, the sprogs will be allowed to sit down and watch the West Wing DVDs. And then, I suspect, they may ask, "Why wouldn't CJ, a Berkeley graduate, know that NaCl is table salt?"
I'm confused: how is a cafe table made of elemental sodium not a good one? (though I admit that my depleted uranium chaise lounge has not been all that I might have hoped for.)
Our university paper recently reported a sodium hydride fire in the chem building as involving "sodium chloride, which reacts violently with water." But then, we're no Berkeley.