Dinner Conversations

At dinner last night with the family we were each telling something they had learned that day.

I’m amazed at how much has been learned since I was in school.   I’ve been listening to one of my favorite authors read his “A Short History of Nearly Everything” in the car.  I suspect this is the first of multiple listenings because there is just so much to grok there.  But, yesterday he was discussing the multiple cycles of extinctions that have occurred in history. I remember learning about the dinosaurs in school and was taught there were multiple theories as to what happened to them.  Now, it is widely accepted  that an asteroid or comet hit the earth causing widespread devastation – the Washington Post reports this March 9, 2010, so it must be true…

Bromine anyone?

Lately it seems I spend a bunch of time learning, or in some cases re-learning, science and math. Both kids are in areas where I don’t just know the answers off the top of my head.

Bromine - 35Br

Take Bromine, for example, I’m not actually sure I’d ever heard of this element before Bug brought home the assignment to make a fun fact card and a model of it. We made a fabulous model with puff balls, floral wire and styrofoam.

Fun facts… always an interesting assignment with elements. Bromine means “stench of he-goats”.  It’s reddish brown, it’s liquid at room temperature, it’s located in the yellow column of the periodic table (at least that’s the color scheme on wikipedia – it’s a non-metal halogen), it’s distilled from sea water, evidently it’s used in pool maintenance, and.. oh yeah, it’s highly toxic.

The last fact the only one that I found remotely interesting. As always, I think how about the novel I plan to write “someday” and I am forever looking for ways to kill off the characters. Would Bromine work?

  • Plus – Looks like it’s easy to acquire at any pool supply center, making it hard to trace.
  • Plus – It’s not too terribly expensive – online I saw 50 pounds for about $150
  • Negative – it stinks, everything says it has an odor, described as overpowering
  • Plus – Although it’s very irritating, the blisters don’t form right away.
  • Negative – It’s hard to get too much exposure when you breathe it in because it’s so stinky and because it causes immediate coughing and spasms.  It says overexposure it rare because of this, but if the character was confined…
  • Neutral – Per Inchem.org a fatal dosage is 1000 ppm

Conclusion for me.  Since I don’t know what 1000 ppm actually means in real life, I need more research, but it sounds like a good way to kill of a character if you can restrain them in a confined place that has enough water for the bromine to react with and you’re okay for your character to suffer.