Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hitting MEGO

My Chemistry professor this semester, Dr. G, has a really interesting way of dealing with quizzes. They’re online. When we get done, we are given immediate feedback as to which questions we got right, and which we got wrong. What’s cooler is that we can make three attempts at each quiz. That means that, if you’re smart and understand the technology, you can make one attempt, print the test out, and then fix the problems you ... well … had problems with.

I got stuck on this last quiz, though. Here’s the question.

Calculate the fraction of atoms in a sample of argon gas at 400 K that have an energy of 12.5 kJ or greater.

Cough, choke, sputter. Say what? We’ve been studying kinetics, and moved into equilibrium topics but, I have to admit. I had no clue how to even approach this question. So I had to go to Dr. G this morning after class and say, “I have no clue how to even approach this question.”

Fortunately for me, Dr. G is very keen on his students learning so he clued me in and the light went on for me. He went on to explain a few things about it though, and I hit MEGO.

Are you familiar with MEGO? In addition to being a toy company, it stands for “my eyes glazed over.” That’s what happens when you suddenly lose comprehension. Your eyes literally glaze over. Watch what happens next time you’re explaining something complex to someone.

I don’t think I’ve every hit the end of understanding faster in my life. At least I know how to approach it now. I need to brush up on the Arhenius equation describing rates of chemical reactions. It actually takes into the frequency factor related to the frequency of molecular collisions having the proper orientation to react.

Wait. What’s that look in your eyes? Did you just hit MEGO?

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