Monday, November 30, 2009
Is It Lost, or just Misplaced?
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.