Micheal Faraday, a physicist and chemist from the early 1800's, most famous for Faraday's law and his other contributions to the field of electromagnetism, presented a lecture during the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1860. This lecture is one of my favorite reads. Not only for the ingenuity to discover things we now take for granted, but for the language used to describe the technical subject matter. It's like poetry compared to today's standards.
In 1860, Faraday's topic was candle flames. This seems simple, but this one flame, that has provided light and confidence for our ancestors over many centuries, is quite complex and revealing to the structure and characteristics of fire. Faraday called his lecture "The Chemical History of a Candle". If you have the time to read it, I vehemently recommend you do. Your perspectives on flames, combustion, and simplicity itself will be altered.
If you feel so inclined to experience this taste of historical influence, I can provide you with a copy.
Disclaimer: I am not much on reading. I tend to read only technical manuals, research, and anything I can learn something from. This Christmas Lecture provides more than just a perspective on combustion. When you read it, consider the amount of ingenuity, creativity, and genius it took to create the experiments necessary to develop the results. Then to have the skills to evaluate the results and determine a proper conclusion decades before it could be proven is amazing.
This type of thinking is what separates the leaders from the followers.
Another note: I am posting this completely off topic subject because it's my birthday tomorrow and I thought I'd share a bit of something fan-freakin-tastic with you.
Here is an excerpt from Faraday's Christmas Lectures:
I DARE say you well remember that
when we parted we had just mentioned
the word "products" from the candle; for
when a candle burns we found we were
able, by nice adjustment, to get various
products from it. There was one
substance which was not obtained when
the candle was burning properly, which
was charcoal or smoke, and there was
some other substance that went upward
from the flame which did not appear as
smoke, but took some other form, and
made part of that general current which,
ascending from the candle upward,
becomes invisible, and escapes. There
were also other products to mention.
You remember that in that rising current
having its origin at the candle we found
that one part was condensable against a
cold spoon, or against a clean plate, or
any other cold thing, and another part
was incondensable. We will first take the
condensable part, and examine it, and,
strange to say, we find that that part of
the product is just water- nothing but
water. On the last occasion I spoke of it
incidentally, merely saying that water
was produced among the condensable
products of the candle; but today I wish
to draw your attention to water, that we
may examine it carefully, especially in
relation to this subject, and also with
respect to its general existence on the
surface of the globe. Now, having
previously arranged an experiment for
the purpose of condensing water from
the products of the candle, my next point
will be to show you this water; and
perhaps one of the best means that I can
adopt for showing its presence to so
many at once is to exhibit a very visible
action of water, and then to apply that
test to what is collected as a drop at the
bottom of that vessel.
Poetry in common spoken word. FYI, 1 Faraday= 96485.3 coulombs