My Very Irish Ancestor – He Had Two Names?

Genealogy, History
[caption id="attachment_26733" align="alignright" width="480"] Fall River, Massachusetts (Winter 1896)[/caption]My last name is Summers. However, our ancestors spelled it Sommers. Dad changed it when he enlisted in the Army. Earlier, he signed his social security application with an "o" not a "u". His father spelled it John Sommers. His father was John Sommers as well. Or, was it William Keefe? You see, my Irish great-grandfather had an alias; he had two names. Why? And how did I learn of his alias? My Irish Ancestor: the Scenario Nothing else provides the pleasure of playing detective as researching the family tree! I began the journey in the 1980s. It didn't take long for me to "locate" my father's father's father, an Irish ancestor. He was born in Fall River, Massachusetts on the 29th…
Read More

Benzene from Coal and Lye?

Chemistry, Education
[caption id="attachment_17736" align="alignright" width="480"] Coal and Lye[/caption] As a youth, I read whatever chemistry books I could get hold of. One made reference to an obscure synthesis of the liquid aromatic compound benzene from coal and lye, by means of heat. This reaction would seem to be an improbable one. Can a stoichiometric equation be written for such a synthesis? The answer is, Yes. This in itself does not guarantee the reaction can actually take place. 6 NaOH + 9 C → 3 Na2O + C6H6 + 3 CO I learned of this synthesis from an old book, possibly published in the 1800s. Coal and Lye - What Conditions? Such a reaction strongly suggests isolation. The reaction required considerable heat. Also, air was to be excluded, since carbon would react…
Read More

Maximize Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Gas Production

[caption id="attachment_11780" align="alignright" width="480"] What fuel do you use?[/caption] Heating one’s home is important to life and comfort. However, as in other areas of life, there are issues to consider. Burning fuel for heat releases carbon dioxide greenhouse gas. But now, let’s flip that. Let’s consider it from the “Devil’s perspective.” Consider the production of destructive carbon dioxide as the intended accomplishment, with the release of heat as a side effect. Fuel of Choice The fuel we choose is based in part on cost in dollars and cents. Some of our choices are heating oil, wood, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and coal. In terms of cost, how do these compare? Back to the flip, how efficient are these fuels in maximizing carbon dioxide greenhouse gas production? For simplicity’s sake, we…
Read More