Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dork Dork Dork*

It all started with guacamole. One of the women I work with was asking me where the best place near where we work is to get guacamole so that she could snack on chips and guac. I told her to go to Trader Joe's

"Their guacamole is called something like "Avogadro's Avacado." I said (I looked it up just now--it's actually called "Avocado's Number Guacamole.)

Another guy walked into the kitchen and, overhearing our conversation said "Oh-Avogadro's Number."

"What's that?" asked my guacamole-seeking colleague.

"It's the number of molecules in a mole--right?" I answered looking at the guy who had just entered the kitchen.

"Yeah--6.02 something..?" He replied.

"Well I know it's not 273.."

"Right because -273 is 0 in Kelvin-absolute zero."

"They actually know how many molecules are in a *mole*?" Asked Ms. Guacamole looking perplexed and a bit horrified.

"Well..it's a constant." I said. "We don't mean a *mole* as in an animal--not one of these." I said putting both hands up to my nose and wiggling my fingers to imitate a star-nosed mole.

I laughed and so did my other colleague.

"You do realize that you are laughing about a *number*!?" said Ms. Guacamole as she pulled her soup out of the microwave.

"Well yes." I said "But he has a CFA and CFP and I work in tech support. *Both* of us work in financial services. So by any definition we're already dorks, so we might as well laugh about numbers."

I don't think she got it, but as I pulled my own lunch out of the toaster I heard the conversation propagating itself down the hall. I heard someone else say "Avogadro's number--that's the number of molecules in a mole."

This is the thing I like about working with smart (dorky) people--none of us has had to know what Avogadro's number was since we were undergraduates (or high-school students.) As far as relevant knowledge for what all of us do for a living, or what we're going to make for dinner or whatever our current hobby/obsession is it's as unimportant as Lady Gaga's latest alter-ego (although most of us probably have an opinion about that too.)

But yet, when Avogadro's number comes up in conversation we can all find it on the back shelf in our heads, where we've left it since the last time we had to take a Chemistry class.

*This title comes from Strong Bad's Haiku in this

1 comment:

dtm said...

Dorky workplaces are fun

And the bit about 10^23 is really the important part of Avogadro's number.