November 20, 2011

Kingdom A&S

My experiment in action. The white lump is the saltpetre
dissolving in my old tin plate.

Well as it turns out, yesterday's Kingdom A&S event was full of very pleasant surprises.

Many people have been asking about my experiment, and to see the associated documentation paper.  I've uploaded the paper into my Google Documents so if you click this link, you should be able to access it to read.  I will also post the link to FB and Twitter.

I've been in the SCA for years now, but I've never even considered trying to find a project that would be worth entering in anything.  Yesterday was the first time I've ever entered such a competition.  I didn't know how it would go..whether I would just get frustrated.  I'm not that great at handling criticism.

Imagine my surprise that my project turned out as well as it seemingly did.  Based on the chat I had with different folks on site, they all seemed really impressed with my simple little experiment.  I even received an honourable mention during court for it... for beginner ingenuity I suppose?  Either way, was I ever broadsided.  :-)  So thank you all, for that kind of support.  I hope it doesn't go to my head now!

If you know me, you'll know that I'm not really the arts and crafts type, even for the SCA.  I never really did it as a child, and I don't tend to do things like that as an adult either.  I'm terrible at fine arts and painting, I'm a lousy craftsman at best and I'm very inexperienced with tools.

Really, I've discovered my talent lies almost exclusively in the realm of the intangible.  Nothing I work on has a tangible equivalent.  It's usually some sort of administrative work, maybe the odd turn at drama or singing, and so forth.

I decided a while back that if I was going to "cave" in to some peer pressure (you know who you are...) that I was going to do a project my way--focused on the intangible.  I loathed the idea of doing something that had been done a hundred times before.  And since I'm lousy with handiwork... it had to be something off-beat.

That in mind, I conducted a kitchen chemistry experiment to better learn how saltpetre (potassium nitrate) could be used to chill water enough that beverages could be cooled in containers immersed in the pool of nitrate solution.  This technique was apparently discovered in the 13th century by the Arabs (who else?!).  It arrived in Europe in the early 16th century.

In my opinion, the experiment was simplicity itself--grade 10 chemistry stuff.  But I guess it is a unique enough study that the A&S forum was impressed.   I'm extremely pleased.  I can't wait to get the comments back now.  I'm sure there will be my share of things in there that will make me frown--but hopefully all involving things I could objectively point out about the work myself.

Ultimately, I'd really like to know what people thought was unique about my approach--putting the S for science, back into A&S.  I wanted to do something different.  I think I achieved that.

Tonight my cold has kicked into high gear and I'm mostly bed ridden.  I tried not to spread too many germs...!   Sorry if you picked some up.  Please feel free to send me hate mail and toilet paper our house if you wish.  I understand.

Did I set a benchmark now?  What will I look at next?  Have I inspired anyone else to think about doing a pure-science approach to A&S?  I really hope so.