Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why chemistry gets me through the day

I haven't blogged in a few months, but I enjoy my chemistry professor too much not to mention him. He is about 40 years old, wears his hair in a ponytail almost all the way down his back, frequently sports a bowtie, and just as frequently has a line of chalk across his rear despite the fact that there is no chalkboard in our classroom. When the students work in small groups during class, he walks on top of the desks, making rounds to answer questions. I'm sometimes jealous that he walks on the desks and want to jump up and follow him. (I often wanted to walk on the desks in high school, but, the one time I did so, my teacher told me not to do that because he and the school would be liable if I fell and hurt myself.) After our first exam he surveyed the class: "The exam was a) very difficult, b) somewhat difficult, c) meh, d) not difficult." When we learned about limiting reagents, our book used the anology of making s'mores--if you need 1 graham cracker, 1 chocolate bar, and 2 marshmallows to make 1 s'more and you have 100 of each ingredient, how many s'mores can you make? My professors happened to walk by as I said aloud to myself, "A whole chocolate bar for one graham craker?! This is a poorly constructed s'more." We then had the following conversation:

"Not if you use the right kind of chocolate. Maybe if you're using some junk called Hershey's."

"What kind of chocolate are we using? Ghirardelli?"

"Ghirardelli is the lowest acceptable grade."

"It's arguably the best American chocolate."

At this point, he shrugged and walked away, but I called him back. "Wait, if you had really good chocolate, why would you ruin it by putting it in a s'more? I mean, if you're making dessert out of graham crackers and marshmallows, you probably don't care about the quality of your chocolate."

He just smiled and nodded his approval.

He is a fascinating man. I told my best friend that if my chemistry professor were 10 or 15 years younger, we would definitely be friends with him.

9 comments:

Newt said...

Sounds like a delightful random flower.

Sad for a While said...

Indeed. And he always wears brightly colored shirts, adding to the image.

eags72 said...

If you had studied sciences more you would know that people like him are almost common in these fields. I think you will continue to enjoy the humor of these professors.

eags72 said...

Also, what wrong with a whole chocolate bar for a s'more? Did it say half a graham cracker? How many marshmallows? I say that if you use two whole graham crackers, a whole chocolate bar, and 2-3 marshmallows you're all set. Or you can divide everything by two.

Besides, what really matters is how well you toast the marshmallows. I conclude that neither you nor your professor are skilled s'mores makers. Prove me wrong.

eags72 said...

I checked the book's recipe and I have now concluded that they were making a double stuff s'more, sort of like a double stuff Oreo. Picture this, graham, chocolate, double marshmallow, chocolate, graham. See? It works perfect. Extra messy. My goal here is to change the comments to a fierce argument about s'more making.

Sad for a While said...

Hahaha! Sorry, I'm not sure I care enough about s'mores to argue over them.

eags72 said...

You are not my sister.

Liz said...

I think it's a fabulous sign of a great chemistry class if you and the instructor can have serious conversations about chocolate quality and dessert elitism.

pudge said...

Hey, what about Merkens chocolate? Of course, the s'more you'd make with a 10-pound Merkens "candy bar" would take a whole box of graham crackers and a whole bag of marshmallows. But then you could invite the whole class to share.