Thursday, November 8, 2007

Death on the Armpit Express

It's Science Friday! Or what passes for it around here. . .

For your amusement (and mine), from the book The Secret House (The Extraordinary Science of an Ordinary Day), by David Bodanis:

Anti-perspirants do not work by jamming little particles into the openings of the sweat pores in the armpits. . . Aluminum flecks, which are the key ingredient, are negatively charged. That means the extra furry cloud of negative electrons they carry around with them counter-balances the normal positive charge on the skin surface. There's a crackle, some static, the equivalent of sparks, and the whole system is shut, short-circuited, and out of operation for hours. The sweat caught inside dissolves back into the body, crumbling through cracks in the sweat tubes like water from a leaky hose.

For the deodorizing effect. . . a little perfume is mixed in. There's also a nice dose of insecticide and bactericide, chemicals that are near-identical to the poisons in your garden shed, and which here are murder on any soft, unshelled creatures in their way. (They) are as acid as lemon juice. The furry. . .bacteria in your armpits are wiped out, whole colonies coated with poison and left to suffocate where they rest hugging the armpit hairs. Most go in 30 minutes. . .it's their defecation of ammonia that produces the smell we're trying to avoid in using these armpit slaughtering agents.

Perhaps you'd just as soon I stopped there? :)

Who figures this stuff out??

IT'S FRIDAY!! What's gonna make you snap, crackle, and pop this weekend?

Update: Don't miss Rick's story in the comments. It's wonderful.


Nancy P said...

Okay, it's really only Friday in some time zones. In my time zone it's still Thursday, and it's Bedtime for Bozo.

I'll see you in the morning after you've killed a million tiny helpless creatures.


boran2 said...

Mmm. Well at least that's killed my apetite for the snack that I was about to get.

FARfetched said...

Yummy. So maybe we could just stuff our armpits with aluminum foil and get the same effect?

At the moment, I am far too drunk to leave anything approaching a witty (or even relevant) comment. So if y'all would be kind enough to go comment on Episode 13 (woohoo, lucky 13!) of FAR Future, I'll have something to look forward to in the morning besides a st00pid commute.....

katiebird said...

Oh, Nancy -- Thank you!

I once spent an entire day following one of my brothers around as he tried to find a deodorant that didn't have aluminum. So I knew about that.

But I DID NOT know the details. I can't tell you how happy I am to know them now.

So now, I've got to decide what to do with the knowledge. :(

AndiF said...

How your trip? Hope it was enjoyable.

And to welcome you back, here's a bonus picture posting.

Happy weekend all.

Family Man said...

I've always wondered what happened to all that sweat. So does that mean if you cut your finger all that odor is released out?

Nancy P said...

Katiebird, I just knew sometbody needed that info. :) It has always amazed me that people don't die from deoderant poisoning. Just like it's a wonder we all (in a certain generaton) aren't dead from having our feet repeatedly x-rayed in those little machines that used to be in shoe sales shops.

Your brother will be so impressed. Want to know more? tee hee

Nancy P said...

Yes, boran2, this blog is a known appetite-suppressor. :)

Speaking of which. . .Feeling like breakfast this morning, far? lol I hope it was fun.

Andi, that is beyond gorgeous!

Nancy P said...

Andi, you outdo yourself! That is beyond gorgeous.

Family man, what a good question! I'll be right back with an answer, though possibly not to that question. Answers don't have to match questions, do they?

Nancy P said...

Sweat, you'll be pleased to know, does not "shoot out of your pores in miniature geysers. . .it's tugged out. It's like yanking sausage from a tight tunnel."

The author is colorful, to say the least.

Sweat has a negative charge inside of us, he says, and the sweat pores have a positive charge on their surface. When those pores are "excited," they pull the sweat out.

He doesn't say what excites the surface of a sweat pore. Possibly pictures of Angelina Jolie or George Clooney?

Life is truly weird!

So family man, I guess the answer to your excellent question is first of all, do fingers have sweat pores? And if they do, then, no, because the sweat doesn't "pour. BUT, you'd think a cut finger would ber an excited finger, so. . . .

FARfetched said...

Wow, brilliant colors there, Andi. The tree in the foreground: fall indeed! We have some color now, but it's pretty muted what with the drought situation. The best color I've seen was on a back road this morning; if I'd expected it, I would have at least got a snap with my phone.

Hey Nancy, I feel fine this morning… didn't drink enough to get a hangover but I was having trouble typing. Last night was a tonic for a mostly blah week IRL, and I dropped off to sleep quite quickly for a change.

"Yanking sausage from a tight tunnel" is providing a mental image that I'm trying to not allow to form. ICK! :-)

Family Man said...

Thanks Nancy. I have to admit I never thought I would know so much about sweat. However, I was thinking thank goodness you didn't do something with a Preparation H background to it today. :)

Nancy P said...

lol, both of you.

Rick Bylina said...

I'm already thinking of plots...

"Death, Dr. Watson, "Was caused by arsenic poisoning."

"Not very clever, Holmes."

"Actually, quite clever. The killer had everyone suspecting the son, daughter, friend, visitor, but the one person who wasn't there."

"Come now, Holmes, Lady Ashtabulaworthshire has been in London for a month."

"Quite right my dear Watson. More than enough time for Sir Randolph Ashtabulaworthshire the tenth to go through a stick of deoderant laced with arsenic, thus applying his own murder weapon."

"That really stinks," Inspector Tutototemscone said, slapping the cuffs on Lady Ashtabulaworthshire. "But how did you know?"

"Elementary. By the stains under his shirt and basic chemistry. Arsenic and aluminum cancel each other out, so he sweated liberally instead of being as dry as a cucumber as any high-overpaid and gross underwork barrister should be. His own stench drove him to use more and more deoderant, until he overdosed on it. With the deoderant used up, the evidence disappeared before our noses. Had the maid not been killed by that oversized hound in the swamp, what a pity, she would have washed all the evidence away with the laundry, which is where you'll find the evidence you need Inspector."

"He was mainlining his deoderant by the end," Watson said, shaking his head and pulling at his mustache.

"Precisely," Holmes responded, "It was death on the armpit express."

(cue the 100 person orchestra pulled together for the ten second ending overture.)

-rick (I need a life) bylina

Family Man said...

LOL that is absolutely great Rick.

Kelly McCullough said...

Rick, that's fabulous. Bravo.

Morning all, (waves)

Hot tea on the treadmill today. It's plain old Scottish Breakfast but I'm going to pretends it's Manjhee Valley–per the tea source: This lovely, Darjeeling-like tea is medium bodied, slightly fruity/sweet, crisp and very smooth. Yum.

Several of my students send thanks via email, Nancy, though all of them were apparently too shy to post to the actual thread.

The anti-perspirants stuff is fascinating and tells me a lot about why they cause me significant problems when I try to use them. I won't go into detail.

Nancy P said...


Lol, that's wonderful, Rick. I was Secret-ly hoping somebody might be inspired (perspired?)by those Facts on Parade.


Nancy P said...

Hi, Kelly--ain't it fun hanging out with writers and other creative types? Please tell your students it was my pleasure, and I truly enjoyed their questions.

Rick Bylina said...

What can I say? Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you are one.

FARfetched said...

Good one, Rick!

BTW, a couple of books by some tea-drinker named Kelly arrived for me yesterday. They have been duly added to my "read this" stack.

Meanwhile, the day job writing has stopped calling & started slapping me on the back of the head. Catch y'all after lunch, maybe....

AndiF said...

Rick, that is just brilliant! (Please don't get a life.)

Nancy and Far, glad you liked the picture. The opportunity for it (the openness at that point in the woods) was created by a storm 2 years ago with 80-100 mph straight-line winds. Pretty frightening at the time, frightfully pretty now. ;)

Kelly McCullough said...

Nancy, passed along. I adore smart and try to spend as much time among the brilliant as possible.

Far, I hope you enjoy them.

Off to lunch now. Juevos con chorizo!

Anonymous said...

Late to the party, after a long day with Sis. Loved the story, Rick - I need to buy the book, Nancy...I think...I can imagine it's full of more "stuff I really don't want to know."

Hi kb! My ex wouldn't allow me to bring regular deodorant into the house because of the aluminum...note I said "ex."

Amazing picture, andi - I'm floored by the detail and composition.

Screaming through Cybermancy, Kelly - really loving your books and this world! I think you have a convert to whatever genre this turns out to be. :-)

And far, hope your weekend goes better than your week did!

Off to bed myself. Have a great weekend, if I don't get the chance to stop in! Waving from NH.