Monday, November 30, 2009

Is It Lost, or just Misplaced?

For awhile, at least the seventh grade, science was my favorite subject. Well, at least the gadgets were my favorite. Our school district was right in the middle of the oil field and property taxes on all the equipment and oil holdings gave our schools a good budget without everyone’s property taxes being through the roof. We didn’t have gold toilet fixtures or anything like that but we had “gadgets” for seventh grade science.

The steam engine was pretty close to the top of the list. It was kind of a rip off because you plugged it in like a clothes iron. It needed water in its boiler but “Ready Kilowatt”, the little cartoon man that advertised for the electrical co-op, churned up the heat to make the boiler steam. From here on out, the contraption worked like an old fashion steam engine. You could hook up a series of belts and pulley to run other do-dads for experiments.

The skeleton was a close runner up. It wasn’t read bone and it was only about quarter size, but we had to wire all the pieces together in their proper places. It wasn’t spooky or anything like that, but once it was together, that was that. You couldn’t dance with it or anything, although it was attempted once or twice.

I could go on down the list of all the science toys we had but you would get bored. I am about to see it in your faces now. The thing ,that as a whole, which caught the attention of everyone in the class was a box of short triangular pieces of crystal or Plexiglas or some substance. They didn’t do anything. There were lectures about light refraction, light bending, wave distortion. I am making most of this up as I go. What we did was look through them. Everyone would laugh and make fun while looking at each other and stumble around trying to walk while holding one across your eyes.

I particularly thought that I could see brighter while holding it just right. The light was more crisp. Colors were bright and vivid. Everything was in sharp focus. The most amazing thing was that even on a cloudy day you could make it project a rainbow. It was just refreshing.

I mentioned there was a box of them. There were enough that each student could take one home and keep it. This was to promote interest in doing experiments on our own. I kept mine on my dresser right beside my combination coin bank that I got when I was too young to remember. Any time I wanted, I could just snatch that thing up and see more brightly and make rainbows.

Pretty soon the experiment worked. I didn’t even have to have the magic piece of glass to see rainbows. They were pretty much everywhere I went. I remembered the teacher explaining that for it to work its best, it needed to be unobstructed so that it had its own clear vision of input so that its output would be crisp. She was right. Good clear input and with adjust and alignment, good clear project was a snap.

Now days I worry about the input the magic glass is having to filter. What I see being projected is not what I have been used to. Someone seems to have borrowed my looking glass and has painted a counterfeit rainbow on it. Trying to mislead. It has only succeeded in obscuring the real rainbow. I think I must have misplace my prism. The elementary laws of science are not in evidence. It is not you. Maybe it is just me. Maybe not.


  1. I too have read about the newly released e-mails.....I listened to a program on the radio about them as well, albeit Al Gore or the other side when listening to them, they both make sense. Surely there is some scientist who can stand up and tell us the truth...some one who is not in it to make money but wants an informed public....we all deserve the truth my friend...I share your concern!
    Science was never my favorite subject, history was and I still love it......:-) Hugs

  2. You lost me in the last paragraph, Glenn - I'm not sure what the symbolism is - but I did love your description of the science equipment, and I'm fascinated with prisms myself. But this post is serindipitus in that we had a mystery reflection in our yard the other day, out the back window. I look out and a ball of light was just hanging there in the yard, about 20 ft. out the window over the sink on the west side of the house. We looked all over for it's source, took all my old bottles and prisms out of the window, and couldn't even block it by moving in different directions. Husband finally decided that it was an odd spot on the window that was picking the light up from somewhere outside and magnifying it. Or something like that.

  3. Funny how things stick with us. In sixth grade we built a full scale model of a WWII glider in the middle of our classroom. We circled all our desks around it. I might have liked the prism better...people can obscure things, but there's always another prism to be had.

  4. Unfortunately, that's what happens when everyone decides to let someone else control the prism. If we each had our own (or at least demanded accountability from those holding it), we would never have gotten into this mess. Complacency!

  5. You have looked at the real cascades of color long enough to know a fake. Push it aside and settle for nothing less than you know as clear, sharp and true. You have been practicing for this moment since 7th grade. (and you thought it was just fun!)