By Brendan Loy
Via e-mail, Bonnie Stone reminds me of something very important that I almost forgot: today is National Mole Day!
Huh? you ask. Well, to quote myself from 10/23/2002:
This annual holiday — which technically starts at 6:02 AM and ends at 6:02 PM — does not actually celebrate small furry animals that dig holes in the ground, but rather, a chemistry concept: Avogadro’s number, the “mole,” 6.02 x 1023. (10/23… 1023… get it?) That’s 602,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, for the scientific-notionally challenged among us, and it’s an inconceivably huge number. How huge? A mole of marshmellows would cover the planet Earth 12 miles high, and a mole of seconds would last so long, the universe would die out before it was done!
(Hat tip: myself, in last year's post on Mole Day.) Wikipedia explains the history:
Mole Day originated in an article in The Science Teacher in the early 1980s. Inspired by this article, Maurice Oehler, now a retired high school chemistry teacher from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, founded the National Mole Day Foundation (NMDF) on May 15, 1991.
So, yeah, It's Mole Day. Have some Mole Day cake!
Blogger "RA" of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania has a lengthy Mole Day post on her blog, in which she nerdily explains:
Nestled within National Chemistry Week, October 23 celebrations glorify the mole and Avogadro’s number, approximated at 6.022 x 1023. A mole is an absolute number without a unit, similar to a dozen. A dozen is always 12, whether it’s made up of donuts or people or cars. It’s the same with a mole, except that it’s always 6.022 x 1023, which is a number of fantastic magnitude, such that a mole of oranges would be as large as the earth. Practically speaking, when dealing with elements and compounds, the mole allows us to switch between atomic mass units (which are ridiculously small) to grams, which we can see, feel, and measure. So, 6.022 x 1023 atoms of carbon (atomic weight of 12 amu), or a mole of it, would have a mass of 12 grams, which is so much more helpful because we have known atom quantity and mass. On Mole Day, we’re really celebrating the awesomeness of this one magical number.
"Nerdily" is a compliment in this instance, by the way. :) Meanwhile, in Downer's Grove, Illinois, some high-school students are using the day as an opportunity to show off their extreme dorkiness:
Classes do not begin at Downers Grove North until 8 a.m., but more than 350 students are expected to be at school at 6:02 a.m. Tuesday.
About 14 percent of the student body will be running laps and decorating windows with homemade periodic tables for Mole Day, a national celebration of Avogadro’s number, 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd power, which is used as a basic measurement in chemistry. What was initially planned as a one-time event with 100 people four years ago, has grown steadily, much to the surprise of chemistry teacher Tom Redig who organized the first event. ...
Senior Jess Mulcone of Downers Grove said she first went to Mole Day as a sophomore for extra credit but got hooked on the event. Even though Jess is not in chemistry now, she said she is looking forward to going with many of her friends.
“It’s fun just being at school at 6:02 in the morning,” she said. “No one else is there, and you feel so ridiculous for being there.”
Heh. Nerds! I love it!
But this is stuffed-animal cruelty: "The run or walk starts with a bang from a mole cannon, a tube filled with flammable materials used to detonate a stuffed mole." Oh, the mole-manity!