Friday, December 05, 2003

Mr. Wizard

I boiled a kettle of water, because I wanted some tea. The spout has a lid with a small hole in the center, for steam. Acting out of the same impulse that makes me stick my finger in hot wax or melt ice on my eye, I put my finger near that hole while the water was boiling. Unsurprisingly, the steam was very hot, and I quickly removed my finger. But did I give up? I did not. I braced myself, then planted my right index finger firmly over the hole in the lid, completely covering it. It didn't hurt even a little bit. I was confused. When I lifted my finger but kept it close, the steam burned me again; when I planted it down again, it did not. I guess that's because the steam just stops going that direction when it can't get out? Anyway, I found it to be a counterintuitive result.

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