Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chemistry anyone?



I’ve been thinking about Nitrogen this week. Did you know that many industrially important compounds, such as ammonia, nitric acid, organic nitrates (propellants and explosives), and cyanides, contain nitrogen?
Scottish physician Daniel Rutherford discovered the element nitrogen in 1772. Nitrogen occurs in all living organisms. It is a constituent element of amino acids and thus of proteins, and of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). It is used for many things, for example--
* As a modified atmosphere, to preserve the freshness of packaged or bulk foods
* In ordinary incandescent light bulbs as an inexpensive alternative to argon.
* The manufacturing of stainless steel.
* Use as a propellant for draught wine, and as an alternative to or together with carbon dioxide for other beverages. (Wikipedia)
And you thought Nitrogen was boring – an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas. Well I’m here to tell you that not only did it brighten my life recently; it even led into a spiritual lesson.
First of all Nitrogen composes 78% of the atmosphere of our favorite planet – Earth. It also has the very helpful ability to freeze at a temperature that is not too much colder than our good old freezer.
Why have I given you this mini lesson in chemistry? Well, I spent a couple of weeks last month with my favorite chemist—my dad. While I was there a friend brought over to my dads house a chemical experiment to show us. He mixed milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla in a stainless steel bowl. Then while mixing with an electric beater, he added liquid nitrogen. WOW! Ice cream! Really good Ice cream! It’s hard to imagine that something which can be used to drive a race car, light up light bulbs, and make our DNA in another form freezes ice cream.
Not only did I enjoy the ice cream – it made me think:
Some days we feel like we are Nitrogen. We don’t think we make much of an impact on other people's lives. Have you ever felt colorless and unwanted? I have.
And second, some things are both good and not so good, depending how we use them.
With the same efforts we can create explosive feelings, or sweet loving ones. We can create explosive heat, or ice cream.
In his book The Remarkable Soul of a Woman (2008), Dieter F. Uchtdorf urges us to remember that we are treasured daughters of our Heavenly Father with infinite worth.
“To me it appears that our splendid sisters sometimes undervalue their abilities—they focus on what is lacking or imperfect rather than what has been accomplished and who they are…. This can lead to frustration, exhaustion and unhappiness.“
“The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before.”
I was talking to my daughter last night. She has graduated from college. She quit her job to give herself a couple of weeks to get ready to go to graduate school. Finished with classes and workdays, she had an urge to create something, anything.
My friend in Los Alamos has retired from the laboratory and has started making Nitrogenized ice cream.
My dad, though 95 and getting weaker, still likes to plant tomatoes in his garden.
I hope you have a creative and satisfying month.

Now I wish I had some ice cream!

2 comments:

Survivor said...

The method of making ice cream you described is one Walt Chamberlin used. He made ice cream one evening for Monique, Eric and I following dinner with them. It was shortly before we moved and a cherished memory. Thanks for the reminder!

~T~ said...

Instant ice cream sounds good to me!