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Things I didn't know
Old 06-13-2015, 08:48 AM   #1
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Things I didn't know

I never cease to be surprised with learning something I know/knew nothing about...
Here's today's surprise. We were discussing what our kids did for a living, and found that our neighbors' daughter and son-in-law are with the US diplomatic service, and live in Chad. (Chad = blank look for me) so on to the CIA Factbook. On just one subject, I learned something that I had never thought about before. The median age... Half of the population older, half younger than:
18... in Chad
From there, some more discoveries... Median age for
USA
Russia
China
Afghanistan
Panama
Cuba
Monaco
Mexico
Japan
Israel
Bosnia
Bulgaria
India
Haiti

https://www.cia.gov/library/publicat.../2177.html#150

Many surprises... as in country populations decimated by WWII etc and the effect on median age. Not as expected.
.................................................. .................
No major point to be made, except that as I look at the world it helps to understand the "whys" of many international situations.
.................................................. ..............................................
So that's just one of the things I didn't know:
One more... recently learned.
For my whole life, up until recently, have been eating bananas, by breaking off at the stem and peeling from that end. Monkeys are smarter than me. They peel the banana from the bottom ... easier, and avoiding the stringy things.
Never too old to learn.

Had any recent AHA! moments?
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Old 06-13-2015, 09:11 AM   #2
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One thread the other day:


Mt. McKinley...plutons...Mt. Kinabalu...Borneo...White Rajas


And lots of stuff in between.
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Old 06-13-2015, 11:22 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Free To Canoe View Post
One thread the other day:


Mt. McKinley...plutons...Mt. Kinabalu...Borneo...White Rajas


And lots of stuff in between.
Thank you... I am humbled. Now I know!
'specially the White Rajas...

How about this one?

What US park covers 6.1 million acres, a land area roughly the size of Vermont and greater than the areas of the National Parks of Yellowstone,
Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Grand Smoky Mountains combined?

Hint... It's not in Alaska.

Don't let anyone else know. I''ll be our secret! Keep 'em guessing.
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Old 06-13-2015, 12:08 PM   #4
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"Things I didn't know"...

... and still don't know are much more numerous than things that I do know.

By the way, I ran across the CIA Factbook a while back. These nosy guys compile a lot of interesting statistics.
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Old 06-13-2015, 06:32 PM   #5
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OK, I've pondered this from time to time, and was recently reading something that brought it to mind again. I don't know...

... what they mean when they say these scientists in the 1700's and 1800's 'discovered' certain elements, like oxygen, hydrogen, etc.?

I've read about Priestly's work - yes, he did some clever and well controlled experiments that showed certain properties of something - but how could he know it was a molecule we now call oxygen? For example, he sealed a candle in a jar, lit it with a magnifying glass, and noticed it went out in a short while (we now know that it consumed all the oxygen), and it could not be re-lit. But if he did this with a jar with a plant in it, sometime later (days, weeks?) he could re-light the candle (the plant converted some CO2 into oxygen).

This is a clever observation (and I won't reveal his studies with mice in jars, lest PETA starts a boycott of this thread), but w/o current knowledge, how could you attribute it to a molecule? I think it is reasonable for giving Priestly credit for noting a relationship between all these things (and some contemporaries of his did similar work), but it seems a real stretch to say he discovered 'oxygen'.

And on a related note, I'm told Mendeleev, in the 1800's, arranged his periodic table by atomic weights. Really? What knowledge did they have of atomic weights back then? This is repeated in all the sources I read, but I don't find an explanation.

I don't know.

-ERD50
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Old 06-13-2015, 06:57 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
OK, I've pondered this from time to time, and was recently reading something that brought it to mind again. I don't know...

... what they mean when they say these scientists in the 1700's and 1800's 'discovered' certain elements, like oxygen, hydrogen, etc.?

I've read about Priestly's work - yes, he did some clever and well controlled experiments that showed certain properties of something - but how could he know it was a molecule we now call oxygen? For example, he sealed a candle in a jar, lit it with a magnifying glass, and noticed it went out in a short while (we now know that it consumed all the oxygen), and it could not be re-lit. But if he did this with a jar with a plant in it, sometime later (days, weeks?) he could re-light the candle (the plant converted some CO2 into oxygen).

This is a clever observation (and I won't reveal his studies with mice in jars, lest PETA starts a boycott of this thread), but w/o current knowledge, how could you attribute it to a molecule? I think it is reasonable for giving Priestly credit for noting a relationship between all these things (and some contemporaries of his did similar work), but it seems a real stretch to say he discovered 'oxygen'.

And on a related note, I'm told Mendeleev, in the 1800's, arranged his periodic table by atomic weights. Really? What knowledge did they have of atomic weights back then? This is repeated in all the sources I read, but I don't find an explanation.

I don't know.

-ERD50
Ancient Aliens..... (watch the TV show)
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Old 06-13-2015, 07:34 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I don't know.

-ERD50
So it looked like a challenge... I hate to give up, but nothing that I read made any sense. Every explanation begins with "weighing"... but nowhere do the articles explain 'Weighing"...
Doubtless molecular scientists know, but "weighing" "elements" in 1812 is beyond anything I can comprehend...
I started with looking at an element table (alphabetically) just to find some familiar terms. Nada. Alphabetical list by Name of the chemical elements of the periodic table

But all threads bring memories... In this case 1956 in the Harvard Square Cambridge Bar... "Cronins"... Tableful of college friends, and dimey beers. fond memories... Tom Lehrer, who was a professor at Harvard at the time...
standing on a round table in the corner, singing the famous song "Elements".
Ah yes... fabulous memories.

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Old 06-13-2015, 07:56 PM   #8
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So it looked like a challenge...
You actually heard Tom Lehrer perform this, in the flesh, in a college bar!? That is soooooo awesome (to a geek anyway!)!

But you captured my feeling exactly, all the history on it makes this broad assumptions, but how could anyone at that time know about atomic weights? It is just brushed over.

We stand on the shoulders of giants. I don't really understand much of what I 'know' (are those electrons really spinning around a nucleus?), but I accept it because it was told to me, and it all fits together and makes sense and helps me to get things done, so we move on and work with it rather than question it. But every once in a while, I get curious about this.

We have some very bright people here, maybe this will be up someone's alley, and they can explain it to us.

-ERD50
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Old 06-13-2015, 08:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
OK, I've pondered this from time to time, and was recently reading something that brought it to mind again. I don't know...

... what they mean when they say these scientists in the 1700's and 1800's 'discovered' certain elements, like oxygen, hydrogen, etc.?

I've read about Priestly's work - yes, he did some clever and well controlled experiments that showed certain properties of something - but how could he know it was a molecule we now call oxygen? For example, he sealed a candle in a jar, lit it with a magnifying glass, and noticed it went out in a short while (we now know that it consumed all the oxygen), and it could not be re-lit. But if he did this with a jar with a plant in it, sometime later (days, weeks?) he could re-light the candle (the plant converted some CO2 into oxygen).

This is a clever observation (and I won't reveal his studies with mice in jars, lest PETA starts a boycott of this thread), but w/o current knowledge, how could you attribute it to a molecule? I think it is reasonable for giving Priestly credit for noting a relationship between all these things (and some contemporaries of his did similar work), but it seems a real stretch to say he discovered 'oxygen'.

And on a related note, I'm told Mendeleev, in the 1800's, arranged his periodic table by atomic weights. Really? What knowledge did they have of atomic weights back then? This is repeated in all the sources I read, but I don't find an explanation.

I don't know.

-ERD50
The following link is to a Youtube video of a multi-part Nova show "Hunting the Elements of the Periodic Table". It may be available on the PBS.ORG website in parts, but I haven't looked there. At about 36:20 begins some mention of Mendeleev weighing elements relative to Hydrogen and how he organized the Periodic Table. Remembering that I saw this show is about all that remains of my chemistry knowledge.
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Old 06-13-2015, 08:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gromit View Post
The following link is to a Youtube video of a multi-part Nova show "Hunting the Elements of the Periodic Table". It may be available on the PBS.ORG website in parts, but I haven't looked there. At about 36:20 begins some mention of Mendeleev weighing elements relative to Hydrogen and how he organized the Periodic Table. Remembering that I saw this show is about all that remains of my chemistry knowledge.
Thanks - wow, almost 2 hours! OK, I'm gonna call this up on the 'smart TV' and lay on the couch and watch it. I have a similar one queued up on my tablet, a BBC production.

-ERD50
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Old 06-14-2015, 06:58 AM   #11
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I like clicking Random article in Wikipedia (in the left sidebar). It does bring up a lot of trivial, uninteresting articles, but it usually takes no more than 8 or 10 quick clicks to find some interesting article about something totally new to me. My way of learning something new every day.
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Old 06-14-2015, 08:51 AM   #12
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Ecclesiastes 1

The many threads on "What I did today" , "Recent Repair", "Hobbies"... and the like... peak my interest, and fall into my vanity bucket. Understanding, or at least, being familiar with marginal parts of our lives, is my greatest joy.

An ego thing... "vanity"... "challenge" and the secret satisfaction of understanding and seeing beyond the headlines. Always and ever, since age 6, to want to know.

On some other forums, my username is Tom Young. The ego thing again... I visit Mensa, Prometheus, Triple nine and Pars... just to hang out. DW knows, and is disgusted... my kids have no idea.

Above all, any hint of these interests, makes one a social pariah.

Wiki and Google, are Godsends... and the internet in general has a leveling effect. NW mentions the CIA Fact book... When I get into solving the international political problems, this becomes the jigsaw picture, a guide to putting the pieces together.

The saddest words of tongue or pen... boils down to just one... dementia. The thickening mist that forces us to slow down. The engine is still running, but it takes longer to get there.

My mantra comes in Milton's "On His Blindness". Every year brings this closer to understanding.

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Old 06-14-2015, 09:14 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Thank you... I am humbled. Now I know!
'specially the White Rajas...

How about this one?

What US park covers 6.1 million acres, a land area roughly the size of Vermont and greater than the areas of the National Parks of Yellowstone,
Grand Canyon, Glacier, and Grand Smoky Mountains combined?

Hint... It's not in Alaska.

Don't let anyone else know. I''ll be our secret! Keep 'em guessing.
Never knew that, even though I spent several weeks there, as a 10-12 year old kid. It is a very special place.
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Old 06-14-2015, 09:52 AM   #14
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You don't realize how massive that park is until you fly over it.
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Old 06-14-2015, 09:59 AM   #15
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The following link is to a Youtube video of a multi-part Nova show "Hunting the Elements of the Periodic Table". ...

Thanks again - I got through part of it last night, it was very good so far, but definitely had that 'pop science' feel, so I gave up any hope of them delving into the level of detail I was looking for. And then.... at the 36 min mark, they address the exact issue, Dave Pogue asking how could Mendeleev order things by atomic weights when he had no concept of atoms!

The answer was a little less than I was looking for, but probably all there is to it. They said he simply weighed the elements, and ordered them by their weights. But that brings up other questions:

I understand the difference between mass and weight, but how would someone of the time 'weigh' gases lighter than air and compare them to heavier than air elements.

How do they really know they are down to an elemental level? And how do they know it is pure? And some things differ in density by how hard they are packed. And don't some elements change density dependent on their state (liquid, gas, solid)? By the time you get to the higher elements, the deltas in weight gets pretty small (2% to distinguish 50-51 for example).

here's one link:

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/ed079p473

Quote:
An experiment for the determination of the molecular weight of gases of low molecular weight is described. The method involves filling a small balloon with the gas to be determined. The weight of the gas inside the balloon is obtained by subtracting the weight of the balloon from the weight of air displaced when the balloon just floats in air, neither rising nor sinking. From the volume of the gas inside the balloon and the weight of the gas calculated, the density and molecular weight of the gas can be calculated. The experiment is simple, low-cost, and easy to perform. It is applicable to gases of low molecular weight such as hydrogen, helium, methane, and natural gas (mostly methane). Typical results are within 1-3% of the true molecular weight of the gas being determined.
-ERD50
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Old 06-14-2015, 11:23 AM   #16
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You may find the answer in The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean? A book about the history of the periodic table.


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Old 06-14-2015, 11:24 AM   #17
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I love all this stuff. Can never know enough 'trivia'! I am currently listening to William Bernstein's 'A Splendid Exchange' - these audio books provide great hearing protection as I mow the lawn (I had read it a couple years ago). And reading Sven Beckert's 'The Empire of Cotton'. William Bernstein's 'The Birth of Plenty' covered many of the discoveries that lead the world to where it is now in terms of knowledge and wealth but not to the depth that ERD50 is looking for. All fascinating stuff. And just to be clear - I was using the term 'trivia' tongue in cheek. More just taken for granted. I thought Steven Johnson's 'How We Got to Now' and the BBC/PBS series were good and gave DD the book last Christmas. Cool stuff.
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Old 06-14-2015, 01:19 PM   #18
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You retired guys are all deep thinkers.

This was my discovery for the week.

Finally, a scientific solution to the dreaded "poop splash" - Vox
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Old 06-14-2015, 04:39 PM   #19
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You retired guys are all deep thinkers.

This was my discovery for the week.

Finally, a scientific solution to the dreaded "poop splash" - Vox
Finally, after all this abstract discussion a bit of truly practical applied physics!
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Things I didn't know
Old 06-15-2015, 12:20 AM   #20
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Things I didn't know

Personally, I spend all ot of time pondering things known only to God.
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