Sunday, March 15, 2009

PPH Part 4: Science at its worst

Supersaturation. The term refers to a solution (in this example, me) that contains more of the dissolved material (in this example, alcohol) than could be dissolved by the solvent under normal circumstances (in this example, any day other than St. Patrick's Day or New Years Eve). Now the issue? It seems that at some point in the afternoon when I thought I was okay, we suffered a terrible miscalculation. Nucleation.

Nucleation is the extremely localized budding of a distinct thermodynamic phase. Note that nucleation is a physical process, not a chemical process... I only say this to clarify that I do not have a chemical dependency or substance abuse issue.

Look at it like an unstable supersaturated solution of sodium acetate. So, if you can think of each molecule (drink I've had during the day) as a domino in a meta-stable state of being stood on its edge, and realize that there are 10^22 molecules in a drinking glass sized system, it only take one impurity (one more drink) to knock them over. Dominoes resulting in omnidirectional needle-like crystals radiating outward from the impurity on contact at the solution's surface.

In layman's terms, with visual aid...

I had one, maybe two small cups of beer (beer ponging it up) and then I made a newer new friend.

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