I’m Not Going Into Detail

I got home quite late today after work, usually I’ll be in La-La-Land by now but instead I’m going to write this post. I went to a talk today about batteries – as you know there is no reticulated power here on the island and thus knowledge about off-grid power systems is somewhat vital – and when the highly experienced speaker mentioned at the beginning of his lecture that ‘he will not go into detail’ and that we, i.e. Great Barrier Island, have pioneered off-grid power systems, I felt a bit like being back at university. I hope I don’t get into trouble for posting this picture, but since I took a screen-shot of a very recent advertising campaign (which is online at the time I’m publishing this), I’d assume it is the same as providing a link.


Maybe it is just me but take a close look at the headlines and the picture and tell me that they go well hand in hand, because then I have proof that I am nuts. It is a fact that we all objectively see and read the same here, but 0bviously what me we make out of it is subjective. I’m going to refrain from analysing this picture, but clearly taking still and moving pictures of birds or trees implicates here the ‘natural’ part and I suppose there are 1+1 people, so yeah, mathematics is also involved. (Here is a test for you: 2 people + 2 cameras = ?)  Check the link out for yourself (Massey University) and you see that this is not made up and that there are no alternating images. No, someone really thinks this picture fits the headlines well.

But yeah, coming back to the battery talk today. I learned that lead acid batteries were used thousands of years ago by Egyptians but that they used citric acid as the mobile phase instead of sulphuric acid, that these batteries have two lead electrodes, that a charge is given as A/h, that hygrometer and hydrometer are terms which describe an instrument that is used to measure the specific gravity, that de-ionised water is obtained by a procedure that takes negative ions out of the water, that the best way to get rid of lead sulphate build-up on the electrodes is by pumping heaps of current into the batteries so they gas (hmm, who is thinking of citric acid here?), apparently you can replace the gas by adding water, that you should only use 20-30% of the charge a battery can hold but that it would be too complicated to define what a charge is, that energy, voltage, current, power and charge are not the same but that seemingly little differences like Ah and A/h are okay, we all know what that means anyway???

And one of my favourites, although it wasn’t explicitly mentioned, yet implied, 4 batteries  each with an electric charge of 500 Ah or A/h (who cares?, it’s all the same…) at 6V hooked up in series to 24 V have an electric total charge of 2000 Ah….

Then again, I’ve heard worse. A person once told me that he takes tab water and lets it sit for a few days. By doing so ALL impurities in the water settle at the bottom and he obtains destilled-like water…

You know, these things piss me off. I worked with academics who had permanent jobs as lecturers and told students that a pH is a unit, that logarithms are easy but even after 8 years of working with them they were still not able to solve an equation as the following for x:

5^x=12 One lecturer kept actually asking me what this equation has to do with logarithms. ‘What are you on about Ben, there is no logarithm in this equation.’ The same person also famously told a student that he/she is not an organic chemist and hence does not know what the abbreviation SN1 stands for while he/she was explaining the mechanism of the SN1 reaction, as a chemist in a chemistry lecture. Explaining means here copying from a book onto a white board in front of the class…

If you are reading this and you’re thinking that some of my statements are fishy, in other words nonsensical or illogical, then good on ya! It’s all bullshit! Never assume that someone knows what they are talking about on a fundamental or even conceptual level, just because their job-title might imply it or because they have years of empirical knowledge.

And, sorry, don’t use the word ‘detail’ when what you are avoiding to mention explicitly involves in reality mathematical operations that you learn in 5th and 6th form.

Parents, please make sure your kids get an education in sciences and don’t forget the Queen of All Sciences has always been chemistry.

6 thoughts on “I’m Not Going Into Detail”

    1. What? Homeopathy doesn’t work? But in all honesty, the mentioned scientific theories were at least scientific questions. Still better than having no question at all but doing science. The other day, I was driving the van and drove over a bump. A young woman had her elbow outside the window and that bump resulted in her feeling great pain. I felt a bit like a dick because I had seen the bump and well, sudden, overextension of body parts hurts indeed. What happened next was such a ‘natural’ process – something I’ve seen before during my times at Wellpark College – she was urged to apply a few drops of a potion, which was readily in a handbag. ‘Naturally’ I was excited to see how it would be applied. A few drops on the head, followed by an oral intake. Now, all adults in the van were used to such a treatment, the potion was handed back to the front and no one cared to read what it says on the bottle.

      Sorry, but if someone gives me a magical potion, I will take notes and get me that stuff.

        1. If we were only all measured against our proven ability and not our networks, degrees, etc., a many would commit suicide. I mean this was Harvard Medical School. Even the audacity to do such research with such a small and too versatile group deserves academic punishment. Hey, I think I’m onto something, just like in Ice Hockey, all who try to bullshit academically be it knowingly or subconsciously should be suspended from academia – no research, no money, no job, not allowed to publish – for some brief time. 3 strikes, red card and you’re out…

          Well, I will never forget the day when I burst into tears because I couldn’t stop laughing. It was the PhD Olympics, all applicants had 3 minutes and one slide to explain their science. Now, I gotta cook some food so I just mention my favourite researcher. Note, they were in their 2 and 3 year of PhD studies.

          One obese, mid-aged woman’s research title was ‘Whether it is easier or more difficult for obese women to find fitting clothes’. Well, I suppose many could have told her that yes it is, for many reasons.

          Now the bizarre thing was that to do her funded research to become a freakin’ Doctor of Philosophy in I suppose social studies, she had a group of 7 obese women, and they all went shopping together and she conducted research on their findings. When she then mentioned that most of these ladies were her friends to keep the research honest and unbiased, the tears started rolling…

    1. hehe, well, how fitting as MU claims to be ‘The Engine of the new New Zealand’. Hmm, with ‘The Engine’ being already 100% efficient – you give money, you receive degree -, the only thing left is to increase this efficiency.

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