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YOU CAN’T SEE IT BUT IT ISN’T GONE

There was once a story about the "Incredible Shrinking Man" wherein the man somehow did something that caused him to start shrinking. He shrank until he was the size of an ant. At that point, he thought he couldn't possibly get any smaller. He was mistaken. He got smaller and even smaller, until he was the size of a bacterium, and couldn't even be seen by a microscope. What a drag! I think that the point of the story was that the fact that something cannot be seen does not necessarily mean that it is gone. We have observed several times that everything has to be somewhere.

Try this:

Set a lump of sugar on a sheet of black paper. Cut the sugar cube in half with a knife. Set half of the lump aside. Cut the remaining portion of the cube in half again.

Cut each new portion in half until the cube is too small for you to cut it in half. How can the sugar be divided into even smaller particles?

One way is to dissolve the sugar in water. We'll do this with the half-lump of sugar that was set aside, and drop it into a glass of warm water.

The lump will get smaller and smaller until you can no longer see the sugar. The lump of sugar has broken up into particles so small that they cannot be seen even through a microscope.

If you have a microscope, place a drop of the sugar water on a glass slide and observe it through the microscope. Don't you see anything? Does that mean it is gone forever?

Taste the water. You can tell that the sugar is still in the water and that it did not disappear.

How can the sense of taste "see" the particles of sugar better than the eyes?

I wonder if it is sort of like lemonade? If there is too much lemon juice for the amount of water, we just add water. If we keep adding water, eventually, we not only can't see the lemon juice, but the lemon taste is gone, also. Where did it go?

[This activity can be repeated using a spoonful of salt instead of a sugar cube.]

 
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