Unwind after your holiday party with Bill Callahan and a science drink

It not often that kids science classes and Holiday parties have much in common, but thanks to the delights of carbonated beverages there is at least one similarity: everyone loves watching dried fruit bob up and down in glass. Whether it’s champagne and dried cranberries to ring in the New Year, or raisins in a plastic cup of ginger ale on a school desk, this one is a classic. Drop the dried fruit into the carbonated beverage and the rough surface becomes an excellent seeding point for carbon dioxide to emerge out of the liquid solution to form bubbles. The bubbles, all tangled up in the folds of the fruit, act like little arm floaties, changing the buoyancy of the combined object. The raisin plus bubbles together now have pretty much the same mass as the raisin on its own but with a significantly higher volume. The change is enough to make the combined object less dense than the water. Like a kid in a life jacket, the raisins shoot up to the surface. Once there, the bubbles pop and the carbon dioxide is released into the air. The raisin now has its regular density and settles back to the bottom, only to attract new bubbles and get the chance to float again. Seriously, I could watch this for hours.

And, today’s song of the week is one that always reminds me of those bobbing cranberries or raisins. In fact, I think it’s the perfect song to unwind to after all the guests have left and you can sit for a moment with your own quiet glass of leftover bubbly.

Bill Callahan is a prolific and perennial lo-fi favourite. He  has made a name for himself with heartbreaking, tense and under-produced gems. (Well not exactly his name, as he has variously been known as Smog and (smog) before more recently returning to using his own name.) He writes quirky and sometimes challenging lyrics, accompanied most often with little instrumentation beyond his sparse guitar, some subtle drumming and his soft low voice. Rock Bottom Riser is the perfect exemplar of his style, somehow both soothing and unsettling at the same time.

So when the holidays become too much and you need some calm and distraction, grab a glass and a little dried fruit and take a moment to get away from it all. You have a fascinating science drink and a perfect song, what more could you need?

Author: mcshanahan

Science education researcher and writer

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