Monday, November 28, 2011

It's About Time, It's About Space

Two habits of mind that chemists use are what I call space and time dilation. Space dilation means a habit of thinking about the very small (like molecules) at a visual level. We can't yet really "see" molecules--for good reason--yet it helps immensely to visualize them as if we could.  What we see and call chemical structure is a visual metaphor for the invisible. Time dilation is a way to understand chemical reaction mechanisms--how things change and interact--which happen on very fast and unfamiliar time scales. Slowing things down a bit--dilating microseconds into seconds--brings understanding.

Right after I thought about that title, the inane theme song from the 60's TV comedy "It's About Time" appeared in my brain after 45 plus years of dormancy.