Wednesday, October 20, 2010
291/ Are We Supersaturated Yet?
The world of nature has many wonders, and supersaturated solutions are one of them. If you'd like to try to create a supersaturated solution yourself, here is a set of instructions.
In general, "supersaturation" occurs when a solid is dissolved in a liquid, and the liquid is essentially "tricked" into dissolving more of the solid than the liquid can normally hold, under usual conditions of temperature and pressure. The most common way to create a supersaturated solution is to dissolve a salt of some kind in boiling water.
Keep on dissolving the salt in the water until the water has dissolved all the solid it can take. Then, after the water is allowed to cool, it will be supersaturated. It will appear to be "clear," but the excess solid material will precipitate out, suddenly, if the container is jostled, or if a small speck of dust or other precipitating agent provides a point on which the salt can begin to crystallize.
The effect is truly magical. Out of what appears to be clear liquid, almost instantaneously, a new reality is made manifest, often something demonstrating a rare and astounding beauty. I believe in metaphor. Hence my question: In our world (not the world of nature, but the human world that we create) "are we supersaturated yet?"
If we are, we can expect the unexpected, the precipitation of a new reality out of what may seem an unpromising present.