7 Quick Takes (4/6/12)

— 1 —

Easter is coming, and I’ve had a link stored up for a long time that I’ve been practically bursting to share with you all.

io9 has a nice explanation of the physics of this trick.  Once you fill a hollow egg with hydrogen gas and wave a match over the top:

It burns like a very ineffective gas lamp for a while, showing little flame, while the hydrogen leaks out the top. The egg, for a while, remains unscathed. The column of hydrogen leaking out the top is exposed to oxygen, which is necessary for oxidization, or burning. The inside of the egg is full of the stuff that blew up the Hindenburg, but the shell remains intact. If the egg really is full of hydrogen, any hydrogen gas inside won’t have any oxygen nearby, and so it won’t burn. As the hydrogen leaks out the top, though, oxygen rushes in through the bottom hole to fill up the vacuum left by the departing gas. At some point, there’s enough oxygen in the egg to start the hydrogen burning, at which point the entire egg is blown apart. And yes, it looks cool, especially in slow motion.


— 2 —

Also obligatory for the Easter weekend is this xkcd comic:

— 3 —

The kind of Christianity I usually engage with on this blog is Catholicism, but I have a number of Orthodox friends who introduce me to different traditions and practices (of which my favorite is Forgiveness Sunday).  Given my pugilistic tendencies, I’m going to have to stop by one of their celebrations to play tsougrisma — a game where you tap eggs together and try to smash your opponent’s.

— 4 —

Eggs used for GAME are supposed to be red, but if you’re branching out, I found these instructions for transferring the patterns of silk ties to eggs via TYWKIWDBI.  They look awesome, and you can usually find ties at a thrift store.

— 5 —

And speaking of making, I was blown away by Make Magazine’s excerpt from the memoirs of young John Muir (available in full from Project Gutenberg).  I was scrolling too fast through my RSS reader, and the inventions were so cool I assumed I was reading really delightful fiction:

The winter was very cold, and I had to go to the schoolhouse and start the fire about eight o’clock to warm it before the arrival of the scholars. This was a rather trying job, and one that my clock might easily be made to do. Therefore, after supper one evening I told the head of the family with whom I was boarding that if he would give me a candle I would go back to the schoolhouse and make arrangements for lighting the fire at eight o’clock, without my having to be present until time to open the school at nine. He said, “Oh! young man, you have some curious things in the school-room, but I don’t think you can do that.” I said, “Oh, yes! It’s easy,” and in hardly more than an hour the simple job was completed. I had only to place a teaspoonful of powdered chlorate of potash and sugar on the stove-hearth near a few shavings and kindling, and at the required time make the clock, through a simple arrangement, touch the inflammable mixture with a drop of sulphuric acid. Every evening after school was dismissed, I shoveled out what was left of the fire into the snow, put in a little kindling, filled up the big box stove with heavy oak wood, placed the lighting arrangement on the hearth, and set the clock to drop the acid at the hour of eight; all this requiring only a few minutes.

The first morning after I had made this simple arrangement I invited the doubting farmer to watch the old squat schoolhouse from a window that overlooked it, to see if a good smoke did not rise from the stovepipe. Sure enough, on the minute, he saw a tall column curling gracefully up through the frosty air, but instead of congratulating me on my success he solemnly shook his head and said in a hollow, lugubrious voice, “Young man, you will be setting fire to the schoolhouse.” All winter long that faithful clock fire never failed, and by the time I got to the schoolhouse the stove was usually red-hot.

— 6 —

And since I really ran out of Easter links i, so just enjoy this very creative silent, stop-motion film (found via io9):

— 7 —

This week, I interviewed Libby Anne of Love Joy Feminism (the newest addition to the Atheism team on Patheos) as a getting-to-know-you and she posted her own interview of me.  But if you want a really fast introduction, maybe this graphic of me will do the trick (it was part of a friend’s illustration of the Dungeons and Dragons alignment system).


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  • deiseach

    Are atheists allowed to call it Easter, or is there an equivalent of “It’s the Spring Break, don’t refer to it by a religious term because that’s privileging one particular religion in what should be a secular society!” Though I am equal parts glad and amused that as yet there is no Easter War to go with the Christmas one. At least I feel that I can, in good conscience, wish you a happy Easter and you will understand I don’t mean it in a sectarian way 🙂

    I am also delighted by the cartoon about Cadbury’s Creme Eggs because now I can gobble down two at a time with no shame and assuage any guilt by reminding myself “It’s only the equivalent of one can of Coke”. Thanks!

    • leahlibresco

      Well, when I’m getting time off, I might be talking about Spring Break, but as I’m not, I just recognize that Easter and Passover are going on.

      • deiseach

        I did wonder, seeing as how there are some Christians who get so offended steam comes out their ears if some poor, rushed-off-their-feet shop assistant has the temerity to wish them “Happy Holidays” at Christmas (because how dare you not acknowledge the religious basis for the holiday and how very dare you deny that this is a Christian nation?), and that equally there are some secularists who blow a gasket at being wished “Merry Christmas” (because how dare you assume I share your beliefs and how very dare you impose your beliefs on me?).

        I’m glad there isn’t the equivalent about Easter (though if I see one more explanation from either over-zealous Christians or the popular press about Eostre, the pagan goddess, I will blow a gasket myself) and we can all unite around scoffing delicious chocolate to excess 🙂

  • Lawful Good represent!

  • Love the silk-tie-egg thing! As to Easter, I always thought it was neat that it’s chosen based on the moon (first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox). Seems a funny way to pick the date for a Christian holiday, but at least it has the advantage of always falling on a weekend 🙂