Science by Mail, Packages 2-4

17 Sep 2008

Original Blogger tags: Science by Mail

I came home to find quite a few packages waiting for me! Many of this week’s eBay finds had arrived already. Oh, and one sleeping baby boy, who didn’t seem to notice.

The first package Veronica and I opened contained a small baggie of “Herkimer Diamonds.” These are one of the stand-ins for real diamonds. They are actually very clear, highly polished and faceted quartz crystals — very pretty, inexpensive and guilt-free. Diamond is one of the allotropes of carbon in my element collection.

The next package contained some small vials of carbon black or pure black soot, sold for craft purposes. This can stand in for buckminster fullerene or carbon nanotubes or similar carbon structures which all pretty much look like soot.

We also received a CD I had ordered from a seller in England, a copy of Trans by Neil Young. It’s an odd duck of a Neil Young album because most of the songs use heavy synthesizer lines and he sings through a vocorder. It was not very popular when it came out but I remember it with a certain fondness. We won’t count that as one of our science packages for numbering purposes.

The next one contained an inexpensive spectroscope that uses a diffraction grating. I don’t think I’ll be able to photograph or project spectra but it does in fact work; you can see the lines in, say, a compact fluorescent bulb.

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