Motivation, Carl Sagan, and chemistry

My mom believes that when we dislike something about someone else, that is something is usually (if not always) something we dislike about ourselves.

I like Crash Course Chemistry, and find Hank Green to be entertaining and similar to me in some aspects. He’s not someone I really look up to, to be honest—not that I think he is someone unworthy of being admired. It’s just that of all the people I’ve known something about, I haven’t held true admiration for many. That also sounds terrible. Maybe people I admire are ones I admire for their wisdom, and Hank isn’t particularly wise, or at least doesn’t exactly seem to be.

I just keeping making this worse…

Forget that. I used to be irritated—maybe I still am, but I shrug it off—by people who had this noticeable desire to impress, to show off. By people who were motivated by the desire to show off. Why? Well, it’s just a petty emotion, and we know that emotions often don’t listen to reason. It occurred to me just now (while I was considering my future action of writing on my website for the first time in a while) that I’ve always been that way, and that maybe what irritates me about such people is that I see within them something I can’t help within myself.

I think it may be important to understand what motivates me and what I’m seeking, because maybe then I’ll understand better exactly what brings me meaning. I used to be annoyed by Hank Green—and I don’t mean it as a criticism, it’s just something I couldn’t help but notice and which now has relevance when it comes to my personal situation—because I thought that maybe his love for science wasn’t “sufficiently genuine”—I thought that if science really mattered to him so much, then he should not have been so motivated to show the world, and he rather should have been primarily motivated by understanding the subject of science.

Maybe the reason I felt that anger toward him (in the form of annoyance) was that I felt like I wasn’t good enough because I’m motivated by the desire to show off—and not just that, but to share—and I felt like I wasn’t a true scientist or whatever because without other people, science is nothing.

I appreciate math concepts. And I know Hank does too. Just because without people ideas don’t have meaning doesn’t mean the ideas have no meaning to me. They are very important, and science is beautiful and wonderful. I enjoy literature, and politics, and etc.—it’s just that I feel the need to share these things. I don’t really feel the need to show off anymore. I used to have that strong desire, and that was what really motivated me to seek out things that would put me where I wanted to be. But things are different now, I think. I used to worry too much about how others perceived me, and that no longer is the case. Primitive instincts can have a lot of weight, but knowledge can combat them.

Ideas still don’t mean anything without people. And I think that’s why I came back here, and maybe I’ll be writing here regularly from now on. Because I hate learning things that are amazing but not having anyone to share them with. The universe is beautiful, but I don’t feel motivated to understand it unless I’m not alone. And I have to accept that motivation and work with it. Maybe then my work will have more meaning.

Carl Sagan said:

“When you’re in love, you want to tell the world. I’ve been in love with science, so it seems the most natural thing in the world to tell people about it.”

I love things beyond science. Like politics, for example. Like French. But it all has no meaning when I’m alone. When reading my chemistry textbook, there’s not that much meaning. The most beautiful concepts and reasons and truths are dead, because I am the only one I can see knowing it. I know others know it. But in my mind, if I can’t see others knowing it, then that knowledge doesn’t give the ideas life, and meaning.

I do want to tell the world.

I was kind of sad about the fact that when I write posts on my website, no one really answers. People like my posts sometimes, but I can’t really feel (it’s really awesome how emotions don’t listen to reason sometimes) the knowledge being shared and appreciated and thought about. I think what I’ll do is share my information while taking in that of others—I’ll read others’ posts, and hopefully feel more motivated and feel that my work has more meaning.

I’m very excited.

No matter how beautiful the universe is, I don’t want to love it alone. I’m so excited about the thought of sharing this information. I know why I stopped, but maybe I won’t do so again.

Before I say anything else, I want to share this with you. I know I’m going about this a little fast. This is scattered and a disorganized post, like all my others. With a portion of awkwardness I hope you have come to expect:

Okay, time to get started on what I started this post to share. I just needed to give a rapid intro. Your daily dose of too much honesty.

Whatever, I’m sure you won’t disown me…

We’re currently learning about acids and bases in my chemistry class. Though you shouldn’t taste a chemical substance to determine whether it’s an acid or a base, acids taste sour whereas bases taste bitter. Both acids and bases will react to change the color of indicators, and in that way you can tell whether something is an acid or a base. Both are electrolytes, meaning they can carry electric current.

Acid examples: vinegar, milk, soda, apples, citrus fruits (and most other fruits)…

Base examples: ammonia, lye, baking soda…

Speaking of soda, sodas are carbonated beverages containing CO2 gas. That CO2 gas is fit inside because the pressure inside the bottle is increased. This increase in pressure allows the liquid to hold a greater quantity of CO2 gas. When we open soda bottles, effervescence occurs, which is where the pressure of the bottle changes to match atmospheric pressure, and because atmospheric pressure is lower than the initial pressure in the bottle, the liquid can no longer contain as much gas, and CO2 gas escapes in a process called effervescence.

I remember when I was first learning this and I had no one to explain it to. It’s hard to keep learning when you don’t have a good reason for why you do it–it’s hard to learn things that may be interesting but appear to have no purpose. I was wrong earlier. I don’t really feel the need to show off anymore. Just share. That may explain why that trait in Hank Green used to bother me–it no longer is present in me, so I no longer am bothered by it in him.

Anyway, some common industrial acids are: sulfuric acid, nitric acid, phosphoric acid, hydrochloric acid, and acetic acid. Both acids and bases can be used to clean, and both can cause severe burns. That also depends on how concentrated acids/ bases are. I learned in chemistry that terms like ‘concentrated’ and ‘dilute’ are relative terms. Concentrated means packed together.

“The concentration of a solution is a measure of the amount of solute in a given amount of solvent or solution.” – my chem. textbook

There are mixtures, right? 3 types: solutions, colloids, or suspensions. Solutions are homogeneous mixtures consisting of one substance dissolved in another. The substance that is dissolved is the solute, and it is dissolved in the solvent. The solvent does the dissolving. A solution consists of a solute and a solvent. Got it? Awesome. The solvent is present in greater amount than the solute.

Solutions are not just liquid-in-liquid ones. These are some other types of solutions, with examples:

  • Gas in gas (e.g. air, which is oxygen and other gases in nitrogen)
  • Gas in liquid (e.g. soda, a solution of CO2 gas in liquid)
  • Solid in liquid (e.g. ocean water, where solid salt is dissolved in the liquid water)
  • Solid in solid (e.g. gold jewelry (copper in gold))

The greater the concentration, the more density of particles–the more packed together they are. If you have two flasks of equal size, which have the same volume, and you put the same amount of solution in each flask, and you say the one on the right is more concentrated than the other/ the one on the left is more dilute than the other, then basically there are more particles in the flask on the right than there are in the flask on the left in the same volume.

It really makes me happy to share this stuff. Which also made me feel guilty for some time, because I thought that if I truly loved this stuff, I would spend less time wanting to share it and more time wanting to understand it. But Carl Sagan has made me stop feeling that certain traits are wrong. I remember that on Facebook (under my real name), I shared math with my family. But no one ever said anything, because no one really cared. I shared those math concepts because I thought they were beautiful. When I’m learning and sharing that knowledge, it feels so great, and with repetition I want to engrave this into my mind so I don’t pull back again from what makes me feel satisfied and whole. I hate nights in which I go to bed feeling empty and dissatisfied despite my learning. It makes me feel guilty, because I feel like I should love what I learn and be satisfied with the fact I’m learning it. I ask myself why, but maybe I’ve always known it’s because there’s no point to learning if there’s no one to share it with.

I only learned about Sagan a few days ago, but that quote was one of the first I saw, and it made my guilt go away because I realized that maybe that desire to share my knowledge was not a sign of lacking commitment, but rather a consequence of being in love.

I haven’t even talked about molarity. There are two things, molarity and molality. They are similar, but not the same thing. They both measure how concentrated a solution is. They have separate formulas, and are best used in different cases, as I’m about to explain why. Molarity is represented with a capital M. Molality is represented with a lowercase m.

Molarity = M = moles of solute / liters of solution

Molality = m = moles of solute / kilograms of solution

Do you see how similar both equations are? Both are a measure of concentration, remember, but they are best used in different cases. Kilograms (kg) are a measure of mass, whereas as liters (L) are a measure volume.

(It surprises me that for teaching I seem to have infinite patience and kindness and seem to gain infinite pleasure. It surprises me that when teaching, nothing is dull or tedious. Teaching is a joy–but it can be overdone. I have infinite resources for teaching, as long as I don’t have to teach one subject too much, I think. I don’t think I actually want to be a teacher or professor because of the excessive repetition. I like teaching things and moving on. That’s why I like writing explanations, and the idea of making explanatory YouTube videos has interested me, because I don’t have to teach a bunch of different people one thing, but rather my content is always there to be read. A lecture in a classroom, for example, may be given during 1st hour, but you have to give it again during 2nd hour. But who knows, I’ve never actually gotten tired of teaching. Maybe it’s not in my nature to get tired of this fast–but I would like to have the ability to move on, and to do so, my information must be somewhere where it can always be accessed. Lectures, if not recorded, vanish with time. Pages of writing or YouTube videos do not.)

Collids and suspensions are other types of mixtures. Both are heterogeneous and display the Tyndall effect. You can observe the Tyndall effect by shining light through a mixture. If the light passes through, there is no Tyndall effect; if the light is scattered, there is a Tyndall effect. Whether or not this effect occurs depends on the particles of the mixture. In a colloid, the particles are larger than those in a solution, yet not large enough to settle. In a suspension, the particles are sufficiently large to settle.

I mentioned electrolytes earlier. These are substances that, when dissolved in water, dissolve into ions. A solution of water and an electrolyte will contain ions which will allow the solution to conduct electricity. There are non-electrolytes, weak electrolytes, and strong electrolytes. An example of a non-electrolyte is sugar–it does not dissolve into ions when it is dissolved in water. To begin with, sugar is a covalently-bonded compound. This is the opposite of an ionically-bonded compound.

Deep breath. This isn’t complicated or hard, it’s just that you need a good understanding of terms to understand anything else. Chemistry is also this beautiful upward structure, and you need to start at the bottom, with the base. You only build up. If you try to go higher, or try to learn something new and you can’t do it, that’s probably because you’re missing information below, information which you need to understand before you can understand this new thing. It’s like a building. If your foundation sucks, and your floors are flimsy, you won’t get very far vertically. That’s why it’s a structure–because the more-advanced stuff can be understood only through understanding the stuff below it.

I’m sure you understand that though each post gets new readers that are inevitably at different levels in their learning, I can’t start at the beginning of chemistry in each post. I’m sorry. To prevent each post from getting too long, I can only define terms I haven’t defined before…

So, there are atoms. Neutral atoms have x protons and x electrons. A neutral copper atom will have the same number of electrons as it has protons. Each copper atom has the same number of protons, and thus the same number of electrons. The number of protons (+) are what make an atom belong to a certain element. Copper is not zinc (Zn), because copper (Cu) only has 29 protons, and to be zinc it would need 30 protons. Each mercury (Hg) atom has 80 protons, and therefore 80 electrons (-). Each helium (He) atom has 2 protons, and therefore 2 electrons.

Alright. So a copper atom is neutral because its protons (+ charge) are balanced by its electrons (- charge). What if that copper atom lost an electron? It would not be neutral, because now it would have one more proton than it would have electrons, and it would have therefore a +1 charge. This copper atom would be now an ion.

An ion is an atom with a charge, either positive or negative. A positively-charged ion is a cation. A negatively-charged ion is an anion. Cats have paws, which rhymes with positive–which is how I remember: cation –> cat –> paws –> positive ion.

(Well honestly I don’t even use that trick anymore because by now my brain has added that word to its dictionary but…)

So what is an ionic bond? It is a bond between two ions. One of them is a cation (+), the other is an anion (-). The cation is a metal, while the anion is a nonmetal. I use the periodic table of elements to find basic information about the elements I’m working with, and you can search online for a periodic table in which it is clearly shown (through color-coding) which elements are metals and which are non-metals. This one’s not bad. The metals are colored green (there’s lots, I know), the metalloids are blue, and the nonmetals are orange:

So anyway, when two atoms are joined by an ionic bond, one of them is a metal (cation +) and the other is a nonmetal (anion -). The metals loses its electron(s) to the nonmetal, which is why it becomes positively charged (it has more protons than electrons). The nonmetal takes the electron(s) and now it has more electrons than protons, resulting in a negative charge, which is why the nonmetal is the anion, and why the metal is the cation.

So anyway, sugar is covalently-bonded. As you noticed with ionic bonds, one atom takes the electron(s) while the other atom gives the electron(s). In a covalent bond, on the other hand, the atoms involved share the electrons. Because the atoms involved in a covalent bond share the electrons, they don’t really lose/ gain any, so they don’t become ions. Therefore, covalently-bonded compounds don’t consist of ions. Since sugar is a covalently-bonded compound, there are no ions in it, and so when it is dissolved in water, no ions are dissolved. That it is why it cannot carry an electric current, and why it is not an electrolyte. Sugar is thus a non-electrolyte.

This post’s getting long–I’ll continue in the next! Thank you for reading, you really give my work a purpose.


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