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A Chemist, I am not

Short story By: Richard W Torpey
Memoir


Short Story


Submitted:May 22, 2013    Reads: 7    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


A CHEMIST, I AM NOT

Not only am I not a chemist, I have no desire to be one. I don't understand chemistry and wouldn't be terribly surprised if it turned out this alleged science is just another one of a thousand other cons politicians have foisted on us over the years.

Let's face it, there are a number of things about this white lab coat discipline that are highly suspect. Take the abbreviations of the elements, for example. A lot of the well known metals have abbreviations that make absolutely no sense. Gold is Au, Silver is Ag, Iron is Fe and Tin is Sn. What's that all about? Then there is Sodium which is Na and Potassium which is K, for heaven's sake. It makes one wonder if the people who invented

chemistry are out just to bewilder us mortals; to demonstrate how bloody smart they are.

Then, of course, there is the Periodic Table which has nothing at all to do with periods or tables. This is the list of elements that make up chemistry. We had one on the wall of our classroom in Grade 10 at St. Pat's with all kind of information on it that I did not understand. The more I looked at it, the less I understood and the more I didn't want to become a chemist. The odd thing about it was that I received a respectable mark in that subject because I had it all memorized like a Shakespearian sonnet.

At least metals and other solids have some form. You can actually hold some in your hand. Gases, though, are another kettle of fish. I'm not so sure they exist. Think of it. Have you ever seen any Hydrogen, Oxygen or Helium? As I write this, my computer tells me there are exactly 117 elements on the Periodic Table and, after almost eight decades on this earth, I have seen a total of about 10. This doesn't exactly convince me the others are authentic.

The thing that worries me is that the guardians of this science keep finding new ones and naming them something outlandish ending in UM. Even though more than half of the 117 end this way, they never included the one which I would think should have been listed a long time ago, Vacuum. After all, it is in just about every North American household, is it not?

If I had my way, there would be a lot less elements. I would eliminate all those we don't use on a daily basis and add a number which we do. What about wood, water, air, wheat, sand, stone, blood and skin? What would we do without these things? And I'll bet you can think of a few others that are more essential than dysprosium or seaborgium.

Now that I've vented, I have to admit chemistry does have its place. It is the basis of medicine and I'm sure not going to berate that at my age. I need my pills. It's just that, like everything else I don't understand, I can do without it. If I did have to embrace it, though, I would campaign to change the abbreviations of Gold to G and Silver to S, etc. This stupid world is complicated enough!

Richard Torpey July 22, 2010





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