Posted by: Tobias | February 18, 2009

Nerding out the three-year old

A dialogue with Sarah, aged 3: In which it is shown that if your dad is a chemistry professor, asking “Why” can be dangerous:

SARAH: Why?

DAD: Why does the soap grab the dirt?

SARAH: Yes.

DAD: Because soap is a surfactant.

SARAH: Why?

DAD: Why is soap a surfactant?

SARAH: Yes.

DAD: That is an EXCELLENT question. Soap is a surfactant because it forms water-soluble micelles that trap the otherwise insoluble dirt and oil particles.

SARAH: Why?

DAD: Why does soap form micelles?

SARAH: Yes.

DAD: Soap molecules are long chains with a polar, hydrophilic head and a non-polar, hydrophobic tail. Can you say ‘hydrophilic’?

SARAH: Aidrofawwic

… which is exactly the type of dialogue I hope I’ll have with a kid of my own some day. He/she will even be able to chose between discussing electronegativity and a host of economic issue. I come prepared for both.

Boy do I feel sorry for the kid already.

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