Friday, March 18, 2005

Perfumery Project I

You will need:

Calvin Klein's "Obsession" (buy the big bottle)
assorted organic chemicals common in perfumery (will be provided by instructor)
your lab notebook
pen or pencil
10-mL graduated cylinder
test tube (7-10 mL)
50-mL beaker
stirring rod

1) Measure 10 mL of "Obsession" into the graduated cylinder and transfer this to the beaker.

2) According to your whim, add chemicals from the organics cabinet to the test tube, dropwise, carefully recording in your notebook which compounds you used, and in what amount. Stir after each drop added

3) When you have come up with a fragrance you dislike, add it to the sample of "Obsession" in the beaker and stir with the stir rod.

4) You should now have a mixture which smells like neither the "Obsession" you began with or the unpleasant-smelling assemblage from the test tube.

a) If the resulting mixture is not an improvement on the original "Obsession" sample, discard it, wash all glassware (including the stirring rod!), and begin again from step 1.

b) If the resulting mixture is an improvement on the "Obsession" you began with, contact Calvin Klein's perfume people about marketing your mixture as an adjunct fragrance called "Compulsion," for exclusive use by people who are already wearing "Obsession."

The first student (or if you have a lab partner, pair of students) to have a signed agreement with Calvin Klein will receive an A for the course. All other students will fail and must repeat the class during the summer session.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Sociology Project I


According to popular culture, all human beings on the planet are connected to one another by only six degrees of separation. A 'degree of separation' is defined as personal contact in which both parties know the name of the other and have some means by which to contact them.

Part A:

If you were to try to communicate directly with actor Kevin Bacon, using only persons (as opposed to corporations, chat rooms, or other non-personal intermediaries), which of your acquaintances would you select as your first contact, and why?

Part B:

Which famous person or persons do you have the smallest degree of separation from? (You may use whatever definition of 'celebrity' seems appropriate to you. Bear in mind that if you name someone sufficiently obscure, you may be called upon to define the field in which your celebrity is famous.)

Part C:

As with Part A, except substitute a poor Ivory Coast farmer for Kevin Bacon. Was your answer different from your answer to Part A? If so, explain.

Part D:

Your answers to Parts A-C will be read to the class, and then I will ask you to write a short (<5 pp.) essay in which you discuss whether or not you believe that six degrees of separation are sufficient to connect any two individuals on the planet, according to the popular theory. (Keep in mind that any celebrities named by your classmates in their answers to Part B are now connected to you by only one more degree of separation: e.g., if Christy is three degrees from President Bush, you are now four degrees from President Bush.)