Science

An Extraordinary, Ordinary Day in Lake Norman and All About Graphene

July 27, 2017

The end of summer is suddenly upon us and we are trying to fill our days with fun activities.

Isn’t it Murphy’s law that when you feel the pressure of the clock ticking that plans seem to fall through!  Bucket-list level plans!  And, sometimes, after the initial plans fall through you regroup and make new plans.  And then, those plans fall through too.  So, you keep trying.

This week we planned on several different days to go to a place in the North Carolina mountains called Sliding Rock.

Imagine a giant rock, tilted in a gradual grade with water cascading over it, down, down, down and eventually dropping into a deep pool.  Our trip was cancelled, day-after-day, due to a manhunt that is taking place in the area.  The rock, along with other scenic areas, was closed as officers tried to find the criminal.

Bottles of water and picnics practically packed only to be put back into the refrigerator. Darn criminals.

Just a little advice: if you get out of prison after 15 years – don’t go and commit more crimes and then run into the mountains to hide. You become a drain on resources and have down-stream impacts to little families like mine and the families we were planning to go with.  And then, your poor father is on television begging you from the bottom of his heart to turn yourself in.

At the mercy of the manhunt, we recalibrated and planned instead to hit up the local rock quarry where mining ended many years ago when a spring was discovered and filled up the quarry. I labored to explain to my kids that the diggers and the people with shovels had a chance to get out.

Carrigan Farms Day

They went to bed excited about going, but still wondering if they might find a shovel.

When morning came, the clouds appeared to have the sun held hostage for the greater part of the day, so we recalibrated.  Swimming in spring-fed water with no warm sunbeams to melt the coolness nets cancelled quarry swimming.

But not after my friends and I said quarry so many times that we couldn’t really figure out if we were even pronouncing it correctly.  Quorie, Query, Quaaaaary.  Quarry.  Does it rhyme with carry or Corie?  I actually think it rhymes with both because I think you can say it both ways.

The Lake Norman area is almost like a beach destination. It is laden with VRBOs that line the shoreline and boast quiet coves, swimming and kayaking. And naturally, like any good beach town, it has a putt putt course.  So, we went with plan C and ventured through the eighteen holes with nine children.

A Day of Minigolf

We asked if the grandmother and child behind us wanted to play through, but much like us they were trying to exhaust the time in the day and chose to pass on our offer.  But I did notice another group, who grew weary of the length of time our group spent at each hole, jet around behind the waterfall instead of over the bridge in order to beat us to the next hole.  And, we never caught up with them.  Odd. 😉

Putt Putt Day

 

Chaos Putting - Day

Of course it was hot. And, the sun came in and out.

Water in a spring-fed quarry sure would have felt nice.  Murphy’s Law.  Perhaps it was a conspiracy led by Mother Nature, who is currently being held against her will by that man in the mountains of North Carolina.

18 holes in, we surrendered our balls to the last hole, which was equipped with a toilet. If you hit your ball into the toilet bowl it made a flushing sound, which was epic in the eyes of the kids.  Putt putt works up an appetite, so we headed to dine at a local eatery, Tenders.  As you may have guessed, it is a restaurant centered around chicken and chicken tenders and it is de-licious.

We made note of the half-price shakes between 2 and 5 p.m. and plotted our return.  As we left, the din of the restaurant seemed to be cut in half right as we all crossed the threshold to the outside.  Quite odd.  Probably just a coincidence. 😉

Then, we headed over to a park that has a manmade tree in the center with nooks and crannies in which to play and climb, and a slide to exit. After just a little while though – all of our children chose to climb the real trees instead.

Climbing Trees - Day

 

Climbing Trees - Day

And, as any experienced tree climber knows – shoes are a hindrance to tree climbing.

Shoeless Climbers - Day

Eventually, tired and hot little ones started to descend from their perches and the chirpy voices we had heard from the trees turned to whiney ones.

And, right about then, the clock flipped to 2:00 and we retreated back to the Tenders drive through to procure tasty shakes.

My children can be like the Energizer Bunny. Friends have marveled at their abilities to keep going and going after numerous activities.  Despite that, we headed home for a slight rest amongst Hot Wheels cars and books before we departed for a going away celebration for some children from Afghanistan, who had been in the United States for medical care.

A fantastic organization called Solace for the Children brings a group of children, from a war torn country, to the area for medical care every summer.  They have focused on Afghanistan for the last decade or so.  Their mission is “building peace on a foundation of health.”  And, there is no better way to say it than that.

Two summers ago, we hosted a girl through the organization and the experience was beyond rewarding.  The child’s life was literally saved due to Solace for the Children.  You can see her and learn more about the organization at their website.

So, we went to the going away party and enjoyed watching a slideshow of the children who came for medical care this summer.  My children were disappointed that ‘our’ child had not returned.

It is likely we will never see her again, but hopefully we will continue to hear from the Solace organization about her progress in life and in her studies.  When she was with us, she aspired to become a doctor, so that she could help children with serious medical needs.

And, aside from the routines of bath, books and bedtime, the going away party wrapped-up our ordinary day, which really wasn’t so ordinary.  It was actually a day filled with genuine experiences, good friends, and some extraordinary people doing remarkable things.

When my husband came home from work, my youngest sequestered him on the sofa and excitedly recounted every single detail of the day as if he had just returned from a trip to the moon, complete with twinkling eyes and an ear-to-ear grin.  The day was actually anything but ordinary.  It was extraordinary.

And unlike most nights this summer, all of my children were asleep before 9:45.  It was a very good, ordinary extraordinary day.

Journey on & XO,
Melissa


Graphene

My oldest son likes to read books about science and this week he versed me on graphene, suggesting we could build an earthquake proof house by using graphene as the material.  Graphene has nothing to do with our ‘ordinary day,’ because it is anything but ordinary.

I must admit I had never heard of such a thing until my son told me about it, but apparently it has been studied by scientists since the 1940’s.

Graphene is a one-atom-thick carbon structure that is forty times stronger than steel with electrical conductivity 1,000 times better than silicon.  It also helped earn two University of Manchester scientists a Nobel Prize in physics in 2010.  They studied graphene and found it to be stable.

Since their work, other researchers have explored applications for the material and it has become a building block for nanotubes and three-dimensional graphite.  It offers great improvement from materials previously used in computing and solar energy.  In 2012 scientists discovered that it can repair holes in itself spontaneously.  Work in 2013 at Rice University gave hope that graphene could lead to even smaller electronic devices in the future.

More-recently, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) discovered that nanoporous graphene can desalinate seawater more efficiently than current methods.  Nanoporous graphene is impermeable to everything but water.

Imagine the potential!  The world really is our oyster –  full of opportunities for discovery!

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