The Sun

  1. One side of a complicated, long-distance relationship
  2. Huge flaming gasbag that is constantly trying to kill us

Usage Example: “Hey kids! Don’t forget to put on a hat and cover yourselves in sunscreen before you go outside. If you don’t, the Sun will try to give you cancer.”

Background: Humans continue to struggle through a complicated long distance relationship with an enormous flaming ball of gas in outer space.

Figure 1 - What a jerk.

Figure 1 – What a jerk.

On one hand, we need the Sun to live. The Sun holds our planet in orbit, thereby allowing Earth to enjoy livable temperatures. Light from the Sun also helps humans generate vitamin D and keeps plants alive.

However, the Sun is also a huge jerk that is constantly trying to kill mankind. For some reason, the Sun wants to give everyone cancer. Because of this threat, packing for a family beach trip is like packing for a South Pole expedition. We need hundreds of pounds of gear to survive the Sun’s attacks. Hats, umbrellas and sunscreen are just some of the items that we haul around to protect us from that bully.

The Sun is also incredibly vain and aloof. The Sun is so full of itself, that it won’t even let anyone look at it. If you stare at it for too long, that vindictive punk will make you go blind (or at least that’s what parents tell their kids). The Sun is also kind enough to give us a beautiful eclipse every decade or so… But guess what? You can’t look at that either!

Even if we are lucky enough to avoid cancer and blindness from the Sun, that jerk has one final trick up its sleeve. Eventually, the Sun will morph into a “red giant” and completely destroy our entire planet. Thanks, Sun.

No one knows why the Sun is so vindictive. We haven’t been seeing other stars…Honestly. We need the Sun… But we also hate the Sun. What a jerk.

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Silica Gel

  1. Tiny gift bag of chemicals left by manufacturers of clothing and electronics
  2. Bossy, absorbent and possibly delicious substance that people are constantly warned not to eat

Usage Example: “I’d normally eat any item packaged with new electronics. It’s a good thing they warned me not to eat this silica gel.”

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Figure 1: Silica gel packet containing Abraham Lincoln quote

Background: Silica gel is a desiccant. A desiccant is a forbidden and possibly delicious substance that absorbs moisture to keep products dry.

Silica gel is unique for its stern and bossy warnings to consumers (see Figure 1). On most packages of silica gel, we are told that the bag does in fact contain silica gel, and are given two instructions:

  1. THROW AWAY
  2. “DO NOT EAT”

Few products ask consumers to immediately throw them away. This warning leaves the impression that silica gel is a dangerous substance. After seeing this warning, most people are intrigued, and ready to eat the “packet of mystery” to see how dangerous it really is. Fortunately, silica gel packets also warn customers not to eat them. On many silica gel packets, the “DO NOT EAT” command is in quotes, for some reason. Some attribute the “DO NOT EAT” command to Abraham Lincoln, who was known for his staunch opposition to eating any substance contained in small mystery bags.

After reading these two warnings, most consumers are quick to throw away the silica gel, assuming it to be a highly toxic and possibly radioactive substance. However, it is interesting to note that silica gel is non-toxic. And, not only is it non-toxic, but it is sometimes used as a food additive. This fact makes the stern “DO NOT EAT” command seem even more bossy and unnecessary.