Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Alka Seltzer is Not for Eating

I took Chemistry when I was a Sophomore in high school, and I loved it!  It is in my nature to organize and create order, so balancing equations sort of became my thing.  It made so much more sense to me than simple algebra, since we were able to make the math work for us, like Physics, but I kind of sucked at Physics.  Anyway…

One of the experiments we conducted was to test the rate at which an effervescent antacid [Alka Seltzer] would dissolve in varied temperatures of water.  We made our hypothesis about whether water temperature would impact the dissolving rate and which temperature we predicted would cause the tablet to dissolve most quickly.  We had nearly boiling, tepid, and ice cold water, then we were to drop a tablet into each beaker, set the timer, and watch.

My lab partner and I were good friends through high school, and before beginning the experiment, we were chatting and discovered that neither of us had ever experienced Alka Seltzer.  We both agreed to taste a tablet before dropping it into a beaker, and I told him that he had to go first.  He peeled the paper seal open, removed the tablet, and raked it along the length of his tongue, leaving a white track mark down the center.  It was quite disgusting.  And it was also my turn.

I carefully held my Alka Seltzer tablet and barely touched the tip of my tongue against it, and in that half of a second, our Chemistry teacher looked up and exclaimed in front of the entire class, “JULIE WARGACKI!!! [that’s what they called me back then] Please do not EAT the Alka Seltzer tablets!”  Cue the class to roar with laughter, including my jerk lab partner.

I nearly died from embarrassment.  And in case you’re curious, water temperature did not significantly impact the rate at which the tablets dissolved.  They were all gone in about the same length of time.

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