Alright. It’s been a while for sure.
Hmm. I don’t like writing about a single subject like I see others do. That is not much my thing. I do enjoy reading such focused collections of information. As for my posts, I imagine they are a bit more difficult to follow. Not because the material is too complex for my readers, but rather because of several other reasons. For one thing, I have an obsessive nature that often makes me want to understand even the smallest, most irrelevant, most unimportant details. I enjoy learning about many different things, and my individual posts sweep broadly but don’t tend to go too deeply because though I like going deeply into subjects as opposed to shallowly, I like to mix up my activities and don’t just focus on, for example, chemistry all day. However, I have time for chemistry every day, and that is how I make some vertical progress (that’s how I dig deep). So, if my reader were to read all my posts, they would see me digging increasingly deeper into subjects.
One of the things that brought me back to my blog is my reading of Aaron Swartz’s writings in the book The Boy Who Could Change the World: the Writings of Aaron Swartz. It’s a super interesting book and I recommend you read it–but it may not be in your subject of interest. Among other things, Swartz was an advocate of free culture and free information, and his thoughts have had a deep impression on me. The book has made me consider how I can help the cause he so passionately believed in, and that he is making me believe more in, bit by bit. I want to help spread information–perhaps I stopped because I felt my services weren’t needed. But the idea of the Great Library of Alexandria appeals to me (just like the idea of Wikipedia does): a place with millions of papyrus books, handwritten by academics–in the ancient world, a great place of information and learning. The Internet allows for a huge compilation of information, and though I love learning, sometimes I feel that knowledge means nothing if it is just for myself. I must connect to others, and writing about what I learn and what I do is a way to do so.
The thing is, I will write anyway. Whether I publish my writings on the WWW (World Wide Web, invented by Tim Berners-Lee) or not, I will still write. I will write out my thoughts, write my explanations–whatever. I can’t guarantee what I write will be of use or interest to anyone, but since I’m going to write anyway, I might as well publish it to give others the opportunity to derive use from it.
Deprotonation and protonation both occur in acid-base reactions. This is chemistry. There are various definitions which define what acids and bases are. In the same year, two scientists came up with the same acid-base definition, and so both received credit for it. It is called the Brønsted-Lowry theory. This theory basically says that an acid is anything that donates a proton, and that a base is anything that accepts a proton–a proton, in this case, being an H+ ion/ cation (cation just means positive ion). The things I am mentioning but not explaining the meaning of in sufficient depth for a newbie to understand (nothing wrong with being one, we all must be when we start learning new things) are things I have explained in previous posts. If I were to start over in every post, that wouldn’t be very practical, you see. Like often, the bold terms are ones that are brand-new and that I’ll explain. Why are H+ cations called protons? Remember an ion is an atom with a charge (either positive or negative) because it has an unequal number of protons (+) and electrons (-). If there are more electrons, the ion has a negative charge corresponding to the number of electrons it has more than protons, and vice versa. For example, if I have an ion with 6 protons (+) and 4 electrons (-), the ion has a positive charge/ is a cation. But it has a 2+ charge, because it has 2 more protons than electrons.
Right. Anyhow, the H+ cation used to be a hydrogen atom. When it was, it had 1 proton and 1 electron (you can tell by looking at the Periodic Table. Hydrogen’s atomic number is 1, meaning it has 1 proton). Now it has a positive charge of 1+ (the 1 is implied so it is not written), meaning it has 1 more proton than electron. Meaning there are no electrons, meaning the 1 electron must have been lost to give this hydrogen atom its 1+ charge. (It’s not like the hydrogen atom could have gained a proton because that doesn’t happen, to my knowledge; the number of protons does not change. Or easily, at least.)
This hydrogen ion has 1 proton and no electrons. So its practically a proton, huh? It has the charge of one, at least. That’s why they call it that, a proton. H+ cation/ ion = proton. Now, back to the other things I have to define. First off, in acid-base reactions, acids react with bases. Something that is an acid in one scenario is not necessarily always an acid. For example, water is both an acid and a base in different scenarios, according to this definition, because water can act like an acid sometimes and like a base other times. That is, sometimes water can donate a proton, making it an acid; other times water accepts a proton, making it a base.
The process where an acid donates a proton is called deprotonation. The process where a base accepts a proton is called protonation. Simple, really. Finding that things that seem complex are actually quite simple used to surprise me more, back when I knew less. If you were intimidated by the terms, I want you to understand that it was natural for you to not know their meaning if you lacked the knowledge. I really hate–it really frustrates me–when people think they don’t understand because they can’t understand, because they’re not smart enough, when in reality they are simply lacking the knowledge to understand it.
It may not be necessary for me to tell you this, but I have faith in you. Whoever you are, you have great capacity as a human being.
Sigh. I got stuck on a Crash Course Chemistry video (#8). I’ve noticed lots of gaps in the videos that are very important. So far I’ve been able to keep up because I filled in the gaps with knowledge I learned in chemistry class–but I just reached a point where the gaps are ones I can’t fill at this point. I have to leave the videos and learn more about chemistry. That’s quite a shame for others, because I feel that the resource has some holes which impede full understanding. I don’t criticize meanly here… I just feel that it needs some fixes. By gaps, I mean that key things which have not been explained in previous videos are used to help one understand certain material. Well… if I don’t understand that material, how can I understand this one? I can’t. Hmm. I refuse to give up. Chemistry is wonderful and I will not. I’ll try Khan Academy, which may be completely thorough. The reasons I’ll try Khan Academy are that I’ve done learning on the site before and can’t remember having had gap issues, and that I can’t think of many more places I can get this information from. My junior year ended and with it did my reading of the chemistry textbook which I had to turn in.
Also, Sal Khan is someone I easily admire. He has a mindset I agree with, and it is reflected in the content on his site. I really enjoy his site.
The more I learn about the world and its problems, the more I want to help. Learning about problems from advertisements’ misleading nature (which prevents people from making the wisest choices) to the dangers of pesticides to lead paint which is still in use, to mercury light bulbs–learning that child labor is still in existence as is slavery, seeing sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination, seeing broken families…
Seeing people litter and generally not care much for the environment, seeing some people not even bother to recycle, seeing not everyone get a high quality education, seeing people age, seeing people get sick with things like cancer and Alzheimer’s—
Seeing air pollutants in China condense lower than the atmosphere in the form of brownish smog, a visible substance that is dangerous and harmful for people…
Learning in my wonderful health textbook that the ozone layer, made of ozone gas, is a naturally occurring shield for our planet’s life, because it absorbs most of the Sun’s harmful ultra-violet (UV) radiation and only a little bit leaks through. UV light harms all life, but the ozone layer keeps us safe.
But we’re destroying it with the air pollution we are causing, because air pollutants destroy the ozone layer.
That is so sad. But it’s not too late to make progress. To make things better. To cut back on suffering. To make better choices. To change our ways. It’s not.
As long as there is life, there is hope. We are alive right now and we can take action. We cannot guarantee that we can do the same thing after death.
I mean, I’m not okay with that! And if the people of the world had solving these problems as their top priority, think about how far we could get!
I feel idealistic, and optimistic, and I feel ready to make improvements.
I love solving problems. And when I see these things happening and more, I am filled with the desire to do something to make them better, because I care.
But I can’t do all of this myself. I seriously can’t no matter how strong my desire. So this is what I propose.
You need to inform yourselves. All people need to do this. If you don’t know, you have no power over what happens. You have very little control and a very small ability to protect yourself and your planet and your people. Information will free anyone. A lack of information is the equivalent of chains binding around you–except you don’t see them. Your world gets smaller.
I’m going to get to the rest of my proposal in a bit. I was talking yesterday night to my uncle about my desire to change the world but my lack of knowing how. I wanted some guidance. He is past the idealistic feelings of youth and told me things which gave me less hope. But still, I was going to do something. And then he told me that my intention was vague. He said I couldn’t change the world unless I knew the world. Truly, I don’t know it entirely. And the both wonderful and tragic is that there is so much to be learned, that my lifetime will not be long enough. I cannot change everything. He made clear what I had not wanted to hear. But it is true. And it’s good I heard it, because when I can’t fix all the problems and instead can only work to fix some, I can narrow it down. The task of fixing all the problems I wanted to do was too overwhelming. How can I change all of these things? I cannot have control in all areas. But others can. Others, too can find ways to change the world–problems to fix. It’s not just my world, after all. Others can handle other problems, while I handle certain problems. He asked me what I thought the most important problem was. What I wanted to fix the most. I might change my mind, but this is an easy question. If I could fix anything, I would fix aging–for those I love and don’t want to lose, for the rest of humanity, and for myself. If I live longer, I have more time to spend helping. If I live long enough, I can make many contributions over time. Do you see?
There is a scientist called Aubrey de Grey who claims it is possible. I am skeptical, so I must review his work and claims. But if he is onto something–if aging, the deterioration of the human body, can be broken down into simple processes and errors which cause the deterioration, and if we can reverse some of them at least–I must know, so that I must get involved. There is nothing I want more than to extend my life. And those of the people I love. And those of people with potential that I admire. But I will not keep this from the public at large.
What I propose is that I will work on a problem facing humanity, and at the same time spread awareness of other problems, so that others may step forward like I have and decide to help other problems we have. Nobody can do it by themselves, so let us all work together.