With Glastonbury commencing on Wednesday, the festival season is well and truly underway. In this post I will attempt to use the famous music festival as a way of connecting exothermic reactions to Ozzy Osbourne (not literally).
Music festivals generally involve camping and camping involves heating food over naked flames next to a highly flammable nylon tent. Add into that the general inebriated state that many festival-goers find themselves in and we quite literally have a recipe for disaster.
However – fear not as you can warm your dinner by using flame-free exothermic reactions. The hot can is a meal in a can which is surrounded by a jacket containing calcium oxide (quicklime) and water kept separate by a membrane. When you feel like eating your delicious meal of sausage and beans (other meals available) you break the membrane with the provided spike, the chemicals react (CaO+ H2O –> Ca(OH)2) and produce enough heat to warm the food inside.
This can be used in many different lessons:
Exothermic/endothermic reactions: Show the students a picture of the hot can (or even better buy one and demonstrate it). Ask them to figure out how it works and then let them plan their own investigation to find out which two chemicals would be best. You could give a variety of different reactions to let them decide and some could be endothermic.
For GCSE students you could also go on to discuss where the heat came from and draw an energy level diagram for the reaction.
Uses of limestone: This is one use of calcium oxide that can be discussed.
Energy transfers: Students can draw on arrows on diagrams of the can to show the direction of heat flow.
So, to Ozzy who is a musician and may have once played at Glastonbury. Possibly the most amusing science news-story last week was the announcement that Ozzy Osbourne’s DNA is to be profiled in order to work out his genome – one of only a few people in the world to have this done. Supposedly this is going to inform us how his genes have allowed him to survive despite eating live animals, taking copious amounts of drugs, falling off a quad bike etc etc.
Finding out why his body responds differently to drugs from others may have a useful function. Pharmacogenetics is the study of how a person’s genetics can influence their response to drugs. A drug may be perfectly safe in one person and lead to fatal adverse effects in another or a drug might not have the desired effect in all people.
Maybe Ozzy is unique in that his body displays no adverse effects to any drugs, or any of the ones he has taken (which probably adds up to nearly the same amount) and locating these genes may help others in the future. Or maybe it’s just a big publicity stunt for the company carrying out the test/Ozzy/both.
By the way, if you are interested in joining the elite few and having your genome sequenced it will only set you back $350,000 – see here for more details.