Tuesday, April 12, 2005

I started something, and now I'm not too sure

Radical chain reactions involve three fundamental steps: initiation, propagation, and termination. Initiation doesn't involve much, something as simple as UV light, a random catalyst that begins the chaos. A radical is formed, which leads to propagation. Propagation is where the havoc lies, where the chain part of the reaction really applies. A radical meets a molecule, coaxes the molecule into letting another radical loose, and it could go on forever, if unchecked. It's the randomness of a single radical meeting another radical that causes termination, that quells the raging storm. Wouldn't it be nice to meet another radical? When the radicals finally join to form a single, neutral molecule, I imagine they must breathe a sigh of relief. I can see the personals ad now: Solitary, unstable me seeks solitary, unstable you for long-term bonding to make the universe right again. History of prior unstable relationships/baggage no obstacle.

And yet, there's something to be said about chaos. Without propagation-like reactions, we wouldn't have polymers. And without polymers, we wouldn't have all sorts of cool things. Me, I was never big on polymers in the lab- the mess is considerable, and manipulating polymers into doing what you want is a bit like pulling a thread attached to a train to pull it off the tracks. Which is why it impresses me so much.

In other news, I'm going to buy Daniel Alarcon's new book tonight, but not at his reading, for fear that I'll jump him and make a fool of myself. Good authors are impossible for me to resist, and I already have a list of cranial crushes, as I like to call them, that I'm still getting over. Hell, I'm still convinced I'm meant for my crazy professor in grad school, who had a wild grey streak in his hair like a lightning bolt had struck his skull when he wasn't paying attention. He often said he was researching the cure for sleep, and he once caught one of his students in a lie. His student rolled into lab at 11am, claiming to have woke up late because he had stayed there until the wee hours the night before. Crazy prof looked at him and said simply, "I was here at 2 am this morning, and you weren't." Thus reducing the grad student to dust. Rather evil? Yes. Did it make me love him more? Double yes.

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