Parenting a Happy Mutant


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Just be glad it’s not KMnO3.


Funny, I got this email today from my teenage son’s climbing buddy, a budding engineer.

[quote]I’m doing a (HS) research project on the effect that the hardness of a climbing nut has on the force it can hold before failing, and I was going to try and do drop testing with them at the (local abandoned rail tunnel). However, I don’t really have any experience with how to set up the test mechanism and so I need some advice. I was thinking of doing something like gluing or cementing 3 threaded rods into the rock, and then bolting a chunk of concrete, rock, or steel onto that and having the nuts between that and the rock. Is that likely to work, or is there a better way?

Also, would it be possible for me to borrow your hammer drill for an afternoon to put in a few bolts?[/quote]

I don’t want to be an old poophead, but this doesn’t seem a great plan! Bright kid though, his 14 year old brother is doing graduate level math.




This is the part I took away. It makes me pretty excited. You aren’t in the New York metro area, are you?


I just can’t get past the salutation.

But yeah, what is your child’s hypothesis?


Whatever. High school was a long time ago, but I remember using it to make tear gas.


My favorite? CaC2 + 2(H2O) == BOOM.


B and O are clear - but what the heck is M? one of the newfangled synthetic elements?


When I was in high school a guy who did film special effects came and talked to us about how when he was in school he and his friends would sometimes sprinkle small amounts of silver fulminate (I think) on the stairs so people’s shoes would “pop” as they walked.

From the sound of it his high school chemistry class was a lot more fun than mine where almost everything was theoretical because there wasn’t money for, well, stuff.


A modified 1982 Pontiac? The road to ruin.


The sodium in water going boom was my favorite part of Chem and AP chem.


Magnesium burning in water was also very cool.


We did that too. The AP chem teacher brought up that it was one of the reasons Ricky Nelson’s plane caught fire so easily. It was manufactured using magnesium alloys instead of aluminum.


To be fair, the '82’s are getting hard to find. Might have to go with later '80’s, or even early '90’s


Clearly my kid would be making KARR not KITT.


At our high school, during the Electricity and Magnetism chapter, the physics teacher had us all hold hands in a circle with the start and end a power source so we could all transmit the electric shock. He told us one year he had a group of kids get really into it and come everyday after school for shock sessions. Good times!


I’m glad my high school days were pre ethics committees.


Self working math magic trick, afaik.

Imagine growing up named “Other Parent” – you’d never subject your child to the SAME torture.


Participants in what is basically a Stanford experiment that gives you a diploma at the end spoiling her magic trick project for ethical reasons seems a bit rich to me. Has she pointed this out to them yet?