Phosphorus starts with P

I started listening to National Public Radio in the car a couple of years ago. At the time co-workers would talk about stories they had heard on NPR and I felt out of the loop. However, the biggest motivating factor to me finally listening? My friend said that he just felt smarter having listened.

Case in point – This morning I was driving our youngest to an early choir class and we had the radio on. The reporter talked about how accidents happen in science all the time: penicillin, corn flakes, etc. This particular tale involved an amateur alchemist trying to make gold from urine; boiling being his key technique. Instead he discovered a waxy substance that glows in the dark – phosphorus.

At this point me and the youngun are torn between grossed-out and intrigued. Phosphorus is used in fertilizer and explosives. The report didn’t say whether or not the German alchemist, Hennig Brand, ever saw a dime for his work. Perhaps his first brilliant step was marrying into money.

As she is climbing out of the car, my daughter says, “I don’t know what that stuff is but I’m never touching it.” Feel free to the wince and fake gag. All teens develop a proficiency. Gross or not, I totally told my co-workers all about it once I got to work.