Bonus: Blood in pool water? (and other questions)

In this month's bonus episode, Melissa and Jam respond to comments and questions about antacids, imposter syndrome, ice expanding, blood in pool water, and more!

124b Q&R 25

Melissa: Hey, I'm Melissa,

Jam: I'm, Jam

Melissa: and I'm a chemist

Jam: I'm not

Melissa: and welcome to chemistry for your life.

Jam: the podcast helps you understand the chemistry of your everyday life... bonus edition.

Melissa: I almost said mini edition, forgot what we were doing.

Jam: We kind of got out of practice on the bonus stuff because it's been a little while.

Melissa: Yeah, but I had a lot of questions. So I'm excited to do this one, but first,

Jam: Okay.

Melissa: last week on our coffee part two episode, we ran out of time because the clock was ticking because Jam's son was hanging out with us while we were recording

and he was not happy with us recording, he wanted our attention.

Jam: Yeah. And he wanted to talk while we were talking too. Like he, when we started talking, he'd be like, ah,

Melissa: Yeah.

Jam: so yeah.

Melissa: And he did also pull on the mic. It was pretty cute,

Jam: Yeah, it was cute.

Melissa: but it wasn't conducive to recording.

Jam: Totally.

Melissa: So let's start where we left off. And I want to ask you what was your happy thing from this week Jam?

Jam: Okay. I've got one. I thought I didn't, but I have one.

Melissa: Okay. Lay it on me.

Jam: So for the week of Thanksgiving, it happened to be a really good opportunity for Em's mom to come down from Indiana.

Melissa: Oh, that's fun,

Jam: we had planned that like back in the summer and just try to, she doesn't have a lot of PTO. And so it was like, Hey, if we put this way in advance and take advantage of like, we're already getting two days off or whatever, we can maybe make it work.

And she hasn't come down. She came down for our wedding and then she came down in 2018. Um, when she broke her shoulder and we cared for her and kinda helped her, um, she had to, you know, she couldn't work during that time, but we got to take advantage of getting to hang out with.

Melissa: Yeah,

Jam: and now she got to come down for Thanksgiving this past week or whatever.

Melissa: I love Emiliee's I think she's so sweet. I was trying to get time to come over and see her. And our schedules just did not line up at all.

Jam: Yeah.

Melissa: So sad to, if you're listening, I love you. Love you Barb.

Jam: And then to add on to that, an extra happy thing too, is that not only did Em's mom get to come but also Em's aunt Mary.

Melissa: Oh,

Jam: I had never met her, even though I Em and I've been together for a long time at this point. And Em had not seen her in years either. And she came down from Iowa. They basically like road trips down.

Melissa: Oh, that's so


Jam: really cool. And that you liked this. I did not plan to per se, but I ended up turning her into a chemistry for your life listener.

Melissa: Barb or Mary.

Jam: Mary, actually Barb already kind of is, but Mary definitely is now.

Melissa: Oh, that's fun. Hi, Mary. Thanks for listening,

Jam: So I don't know if you're listening to the new episodes, Mary, or if you're listening,

to some of the older ones, but once you get to this episode, whenever that is, um, thanks for listening.

Melissa: Yeah, thanks for listening. That's very cool.

Jam: So that was mine. What about you? How was your happy thing?

Melissa: Well, mine's also family related. So, um, my sister-in-law Yessica is a photographer. She has a photography business. She's on Instagram at B Dallas creations and she took Christmas mini a little Christmas mini session of me and Maison for Christmas. It's so cute.

I don't think we're actually going to turn them into Christmas cards because we are still writing our thank you notes from our wedding, but they're really, really cute. And we definitely will post them on social media so you can see them and you can go check her out. She's really good. Especially at infant photography, she did this really cool thing where she made a mug out of other materials, but at the giant size mug that you can put a baby in and take pictures of a baby and they look like they're in hot cocoa.

Jam: yeah, that is that's cute.

Melissa: So cute. So that was really fun. We just got the pictures back. We took them a while ago, but we just got them about back this past week. And they're so cute.

Jam: that's . Awesome.

Melissa: We'll post this on social media because they're really cute and fun. Um, but also we know what else is fun.

Jam: Um, I don't know. What, what could It be?

Melissa: It could be Q and R questions from our listeners

Jam: Excellent.

Melissa: sessions and fun facts, which is what we're starting off with today.

Jam: Absolutely. Yes, this is whenever we say at the end of every episode that to send us some questions and thoughts and ideas. Many of them end up here on our Q and R episodes because they're either quick little questions or, um, sometimes they're fun questions that aren't really that chemistry related. And then we just get to have an excuse to tell you like what our favorite movie is or whatever. But, uh, yeah, that's what this is. If it's your first time listening to one of these welcome, so this first one is from Dr. Diana Mason and is a fun fact relating to our antacids episode. tums and alkaseltzer whatever else. So she said citric acid is a weak acid with a lower concentration of acidic protons than those found in our stomach. So while you're adding an acid, when you consume alkaline seltzer, it is not as strong as the acid in your stomach.

And it adds fizz and flavor. This is also why you can use seven up in some other sodas relieve the pressure on your tummy also does have phosphoric acid, but it is again a weak acid.

Melissa: I thought that was a good point and a fun fact from Dr. Mason. I didn't really think about the fact that HCL and our stomach hydrochloric acid has such a high concentration of protons compared to something like citric acid. So that does make sense. So thank you, Dr. Mason for writing in on that. And the next one is from another expert and I have a fun thing to say about this expert.

Jam: Okay, what is it?

Melissa: This is from Renee C. And she recently defended her dissertation, which basically means she's now Dr. Renee C.

Jam: Wow.

Melissa: And this is the same doctor in AC that appeared on our show to talk about climate change and the sea level rising.

Jam: Right, right.

Melissa: So I'm going to share a little bit about her graduation process, but first I want to talk about what she wrote

Jam: So she said, this is in

response to the imposter syndrome, uh, fall mini that we did a few weeks ago. So Renee said characterizing leaving biology or biochemistry as failure is also a problem that she's seen.

Melissa: Right. So she was actually talking about when Vianet's teacher said, half of you will fail.

Jam: yeah.

Melissa: Um, that the idea that failing at this class or failing at your chosen major is a failure. That's a problem.

Jam: Yeah.

Melissa: And I really strongly agree with this, and here's why I quote unquote, failed to get my PhD in organic chemistry.

Because I started on that path and I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do, but people encourage me to go the PhD route. I wasn't sure if I wanted a master's or PhD. And so I started a PhD in organic chemistry and I didn't finish it, but I don't think that was a failure. I think what I did in that time was solidifying my expertise and understanding in organic chemistry and realized that that isn't, what I want to do for the rest of my life is being an organic chemistry lab.

Jam: Yeah.

Melissa: And I think it's always a success when we can get closer to the thing that we really are passionate about doing. And so in that time, maybe I did fail to get a PhD in organic chemistry, but I succeeded in learning a lot about organic chemistry, which I get to teach everyone who listens to this up, these episodes all the time.

And it helped me realize that I don't want to work in a lab every day for the rest of my life. I want to work with other people and I want to see people understand chemistry. And that's really where my passion lies.

Jam: Right.

Melissa: So I do think you can count it as a success. Maybe vianet didn't succeed in biochemistry, but she did succeed in becoming a really well informed, really excited about science counselor, who can share that love with other people so that even though she didn't maybe succeed on the path she started on, that's not a failure, that's still a success.

She ended up successfully contributing to society society in a way that she's passionate.

Jam: Yeah, totally. And also, I mean, i know people know this. People have listened to the podcast knows, but you didn't get your PhD in organic chemistry, but you switched and you're getting your PhD in chemistry education.

Melissa: Well, it's still in chemistry, but the concentration is chemistry education rather than organic.


Jam: Yeah. I just wanted to clarify that. So it wasn't like, yep. And so you guys are here, heard us talking about Melissa her but she gave up or she failed or she changed or whatever, like, no. This has already happened in the past and

Melissa: This happened a long time ago. Yes. And I am almost done with my PhD in chemistry now in a different area. So yes, I'm still in grad school. Don't read and quit in the last two weeks. What if I did our listeners?

Jam: I was just thinking about if anyone had missed any updates in the past that if they hear this, they feel like, wait a second. Melissa's not getting her PhD, oh man. Like it would just be, Yeah.

A bummer.

Melissa: So that is a good segue into how one gets their PhD in what Renee did. So Renee's my sister. She's also got a master's degree, I think in ocean science. And she's been in grad school to get her PhD and usually to get your PhD, you have to take a certain number of classes. You have to pass qualifying exams, which are really tough exams that demonstrate that you're an expert in your area.

Not all schools have that, but many do. And then you usually have to publish a paper that contributes to science, or at least submit the paper to be published and then write a dissertation

Jam: Okay.

Melissa: to that's pretty typical for the sciences.

Jam: Pretty easy, obviously.

Melissa: Pretty easy, not hard at all. So for my organic chemistry PhD, actually, I had passed my qualifying exams and finished my classes.

All I had left to do was research. I'd publish a paper also. So all I had left to do was really put together my dissertation and a little bit more research, but it was very unhappy. I was pretty depressed. I wasn't a good place for me. So I was what they call ABD all, but dissertation in organic chemistry.

Jam: Yeah.

Melissa: So Renee has successfully taken all the classes she needs to take, be submitted a paper for publication. I think it's already published and she defended her PhD. So she is, oh, and she passed your qualifying exams. So she is essentially a doctor now.

Jam: Yeah,

Melissa: She technically hasn't graduated yet because you have to fill out the paperwork and cross the stage.

And she won't be able to do that till may, just because of the deadlines.

Jam: I see.

Melissa: So she's definitive PhD. Everyone in academia basically is says, you're a doctor.

She has a few more months until she'll graduate, but she is for all intents and purposes.

Dr. Renee Collini.

Jam: Awesome.

Melissa: And I think that's kind of a good opportunity to share with our listeners. That's probably the track I'll go on as well.

Jam: Uh huh.

Melissa: If I want to graduate this upcoming semester, I would have to defend my PhD in March. And that's going to be really difficult because I have a lot of other things going on in March.

So the alternative option would be to defend my PhD in April or may and then graduate in the summer. But I would still essentially be a doctor at that point. So that's a little bit about what it takes to get a PhD and congratulations, Renee.

Congratulations, Dr. Collini. We are so proud of you.

Jam: that is awesome. This next question is from Oscar C and he asks winter is approaching and it would be great to hear about the chemistry behind ice skating or cool ice facts.

Melissa: That's fun.

Jam: Cool.

Melissa: So I have cool. Yeah. Do you think he put that in there as an Easter egg for


Jam: think let's just give them credit, you know?

Melissa: So I. I have looked into the chemistry of ice skating before. And I think I remember it being not super clear and that's why I haven't done an episode on it

because I

love ice skating. So any chance I have to do that, but I might look back into it, but here's one cool ice fact.

Jam: Okay.

Melissa: So most things, if you think about the molecule at the molecular level, as things get colder and they freeze into a solid, they are packed more tightly together.

And so most liquids have a higher volume than their corresponding solid. They take up less space. However, ice is one of the only things that expands as it solidified. And it's because the shape of a water molecules. And so if you've ever put a water bottle in the freezer and the, the water bottle cracked and broke open, because the water expanded that's because water molecules have this bent shape and they partake in hydrogen bonding.

And so there's a lot of empty space in the middle of where the molecules line up as they solidify. And that's why water expanse as it freezes.

Jam: That is very interesting.

Melissa: So that's a cool ice fact for you.

Jam: That is actually, can I add one into

Melissa: Yeah.

Jam: that? You have, that you might have to like check the, um, verify this or whatever, but Oscar ice is colder than water.

Melissa: That's true.


Jam: that's all I had to bring to the table..

Melissa: I think if you have ice and water in a closed system, as the ice is melting, the whole system is 32 degrees Celsius. To some ice can be colder than water, but sometimes water can literally be ice cold.

Jam: That is crazy. I have heard situations where you couldn't get water below the freezing point and it not actually freeze yet. So basically it's kind of like, I mean, it makes sense

Melissa: super cooled

Jam: it's not like freezing point is like this rule that the water.

has to follow of. Like, listen, water is 32 degrees. You better, completely free, solid immediately.

Right? Yeah. no, it makes sense that it would take

Melissa: Yes. Freezing point is a little bit more complicated than melting point or sorry, let me say this again. Breezing point is a little bit more complicated than boiling point and that's actually why it's usually called melting point, not freezing point because solid to liquid behaves much more consistently than the other way around.

Jam: it.

Melissa: That's also why we haven't talked about how colligative properties. I can lower the melting point of ice. And that's why we put salt on roads is cause it's kind of a complicated episode to do.

Jam: Yeah, that does sound complicated and I've never understood it.

Melissa: Maybe we'll tackle it

at some point,

Jam: Interesting.

Melissa: but that was a good, that was a fun prompt Oscar. Thanks for sending that along.

Jam: Yes. Thank you. This next question is from Claire and Claire asks, what is the chemistry of menstrual blood in pool water.

Melissa: Okay. I think what Claire is talking about here is the phenomenon when women are on their period, and if they get into a body of water, like a bath or a pool, it seems like the period stop.

Jam: Oh, interesting.

Melissa: So I don't actually think your period does stop. I actually think this is based on just my own mind as a chemist. I think what happens is that there's pressure of water against your body and that actually pushes back against the flow coming out.

Jam: Oh, I see.

Melissa: So I don't think that there is actually like it doesn't stop.

I think it's more the physics of the water pushing against your body.

Jam: Yeah. Interesting.

Melissa: But I also think if any small amounts of blood did come out, if the pressure changed or whatever, then I don't think it'd be super noticeable because very rapidly it would be diluted in the water. So that's more chemistry.

Jam: Yeah.

Melissa: So I think that's what it is, how I did not look that up.

That's just my off the cuff answer chemistry off the cuff. But I will say after we did our pool episodes, I think it is probably very important if you're on your period or if you're having any other kind of things going on, you should rinse off. Well, before you get into a pool and try to use some kind of protection to keep the blood from coming out, because we learned about all the byproducts that could happen when bodily fluids interact with the pool

Jam: Yeah, all kinds. All the kinds of bodily fluids.

Melissa: All the kinds, blood, sweat. urine. So you probably want to minimize that tears, blood, sweat, tears. See, you'd probably want to minimize that as much as possible. I'm sure the blood would be neutralized. So I don't think that would be a biohazard, but I'd be concerned about what other byproducts it would make when it interacted with the chlorine.

Jam: Yeah. Yeah. It's one of those, like, it seems like good practices for all of us, regardless of what what's going on. You know, it's like, we talked about how, how much, whether it's pee or sweat or whatever bacteria just on skin. That causes all kinds of other stuff. That episode is pretty interesting, but what do we call that one?

Pee in the pools. Something like that.

Melissa: what happens if you,

Jam: Yeah.

Melissa: I don't remember.

Jam: Yeah. But yeah, that's a good question.

Melissa: Yeah, that was a good question. Thanks, Claire.

Jam: This next question is going to be a tough one. TJ asked us, what's your favorite episode that you've done?

Melissa: That is a tough one. I can, I do multiple, I mean like may top three.

Jam: What if we do this, what if, okay. What if we do this, TJ? Sorry to change the question a little bit, but I feel like sometimes with questions like this, if we changed it to not is what is your favorite episode that you've done, but what is one of your favorites? Because it can be hard to pick and we might make an answer say an answer now. And then we might stop recording and then later I'm like, oh man, that one.

So that way I'm not held to my answer too closely. And you aren't either. Maybe we do that.

Melissa: Okay, well, to come to my mind that regularly impact my life kind of three, but I'll just take the top two.

Jam: Okay.

Melissa: One is how onions make you cry? It's wild. It's a, plant's defense. It's a chain reaction of mechanisms starting with the enzymes in the plant, ending with your eye and the water in your eye and its acid in your eye.

What the heck?

Jam: Yeah. Yeah,

Melissa: So that one's cool. And I think about it a lot,

Jam: definitely.

Melissa: but the one that has impacted my life the most is the plastic series. I think it was very heartbreaking to know that chemists had used their powers for evil in a way. And I think it was really shocking to me to know how much plastic was around us.

I didn't know carpet was recycled plastic. I didn't know fleece was recycled plastic. I mean, a lot of that really, really surprised me.

Jam: Yeah. Yeah.

Melissa: And it changed the way I live because I worked very hard now to use what I already have to minimize the times they use single use plastic, and I try to opt for other things and not like we've gotten rid of paper towels in my house.

We've gotten rid of using plastic bags in our house. We've gotten rid of dryer sheets in our house. All of those because of learning about what plastic

Jam: Yeah, totally.

Melissa: and I've tried to shop much more sustainably, that's really, really impacted me. So I think that's probably.

Jam: That's a great answer. Those are both great answers. If you had not said onions I would have said it, but now I got a pass because you already said onions. That one. I liked a lot too. The two that came to mind for me. Um, R one, the caffeine episode, which has a lot, you know, very good, very well with the coffee stuff we've been talking about.

Melissa: Yes.


Jam: And also I love that one. And I also think sometimes the ones that stick out to me are ones that we're able to prompt, like a pretty good analogy. My brain was just not happening all the time. It's kind of hard to do that every episode, which is why there's only a couple of times where we have an analogy that really holds up, you know, But that one I thought was fun.

And then also the Teflon slash cast iron episodes, which is sort of cheating because it's more than one episode that those episodes really impacted my life a lot too. Um, similar to what you said about the plastics thing, I definitely.

made some changes about my life based on those. And, um, I've felt, Yeah.

I just learned a ton from those and we always learn a lot every episode, but sometimes it has these super specific.

Changes in our lives. That require me to feel like I gotta take something right, now,

Melissa: Oh yeah. We made changes like that too.

Jam: yeah,

Melissa: We stopped using teflon actually we don't, we use exclusively cast iron and stainless steel now. So definitely.

Jam: yeah.

Melissa: You know what else though, since it's Christmas, I think a lot about the episode where he talked about eggs,

Jam: Oh

Melissa: because he uses a Christmas light analogy.

And I have thought about that one quite a bit.

Jam: Yeah.

that was another good one. I need to, I need to have another home run like that, where it's an analogy that not only is funny for me and helps me, but also is a double whammy and you like it too.

Melissa: Yeah.

Jam: checks out, checks out chemistry wise.

Melissa: Yeah, that was a really good

one. I think about that all the time.

Jam: that does that one that I think is funny and it helps me.

But there's clearly like problems with it, you know, like it doesn't quite hold up or whatever, but that one worked well in both counts. So Yeah.

like that one too. And we had Jason on that episode. That was fun.

Melissa: Yeah, that was really fun. And I think that was the Thanksgiving episode because it was food related. So

Jam: that's right. That's right.

Melissa: I do want to say also though, before we wrap it up, that I have heard a few people. I think one definitely happened.

The other one might've been a dream, but saying that their sweatshirts had the logo peel off, um, that has not been my experience. I have used worn, dried my sweatshirt multiple times. I've had the original logo sweatshirt for two years now, I think, or a year and a half. And the chemistry sweatshirt I got last Christmas and neither of those have peeled off or falling apart.

So if that happens to you, please reach out to bonfire. If bonfire doesn't respond, let us know, and we'll try to do something to make that right for you, because that is not what we want to happen for our listeners.

Jam: definitely. We had, we had a listener have a, an issue with an order. Um, like their first merch run or whatever, and us trying to contact bonfire. Didn't wasn't as successful as the like store people behind the store, whatever. But I think if you, as a customer who bought it, tried to contact them.

Um, but let us know. We want to obviously help, but we didn't get anywhere trying to do it for the listener last time. Um, we didn't have their like, you know, order information. That was part, probably part of it. But. Yeah.

And I also have one of the newer sweatshirts, one of the newer logo sweatshirts from this previous batch, this recent one, and mine has not doesn't happen to me either.

So hopefully it's a very small fluke that we can, that is not widespread at all. Um, but yes, let us know if, if there's any way we can help get that solved for you.

Melissa: Yes, please do well, thank you guys so much and thanks to that listener for reaching out and for all of you for writing really great questions, this is a really fun episode to record, and please don't hesitate to reach out. If you have any thoughts or ideas for the episode,

Jam: This episode of chemistry for your life was created by Melissa Collini and Jam Robinson. And we'd like to give a special thanks to E. Robinson who reviewed this episode.

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