I apologize that I am a little late in publishing this this morning. I am learning all of this as I go and today's lesson is not to go out to an immigrant food festival and down two bottles of wine on a Thursday night when you're expected to publish a story by 8AM the next morning. Anyway, enough of that.
Let me first announce the winners of last Friday's contest.
- First comment: Dorothee - look out for her story next week (4/22)
- Best comment: this was a tough one. There were quite a few gems there in last week's comments section but, all things considered, I'm going to have to go with Matt's comment:
This is the 2nd most turned on you've ever gotten me. Conscientious objection... such an aphrodisiac.
But a strong honorable mention goes to Spencer for putting the mental image in my head of someone reading All of the Boobies to their children as a bedtime story.
Matt's story should be published on the following Friday (4/29)
Anyway - I'll keep this short. This week's story is about batteries and it's really more of a vignette than a story. I'm actually quite fond of writing vignettes so this won't be the last one that you see. Also, I realize that last week's story was way too long. I promise never to do that again (this one is <1,500 words).
That's all. Enjoy!
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Electrons Drink for Free
‘Okay, so, um, so you can imagine that there are these two clubs; Club Anode and Club Cathode, right? So, these two clubs are separated by a parking lot. The parking lot is the electrolyte.’
Amanda pulled the pipe from her mouth and leaned her head back as she held the smoke in her lungs. There was a slender trail of smoke weaving up from the mouthpiece as she handed it over to me. ‘That might be beat,’ she said, as she continued to hold her breath.
I took the pipe from her and tapped the side of it with the bottom of the lighter to try to stir up some fresh green. I took a hit. It tasted ashy so I blew it out and knocked the pipe upside down on the mooring post to empty it.
Amanda exhaled up and to the left. ‘So Club Anode, Club Cathode, and the parking lot is the electrolyte.’
‘Right, so, you have these two clubs with a parking lot in between. So the electrons are like the ladies. They’re the hot chicks. So you can imagine that they’re getting harassed by guys all night. So the guys in this scenario, are the ions. The cations. The positively-charged ions. In lithium batteries, the guys would be the lithium ions, which have a charge of plus one.’ I held my palm up toward her, ‘the electrons, that is, the chicks, having a charge of minus one.’
‘Okay,’ Amanda held out her hand and counted off on her fingers, starting with her thumb. ‘You have Club Anode, Club Cathode, the, um, electrolyte parking lot, and you have the electrons, which are the chicks, and the one plus lithium ions, which are the dudes.’
‘Brilliant,’ I said, with the pipe still in my mouth. ‘You’re getting it. So, anyway, these clubs, both of these clubs, have one very strict rule.’ I took the pipe out of my mouth to emphasize the point. ‘The guy-to-girl ratio must always be one-to-one. Always. No matter what. So, as soon as one chick enters, another dude is right behind her. Okay, right? Got that? A one-to-one ratio at all times. That’s very important.’
‘Got it. No threesomes. No polygamy. Just one guy, one girl.’
‘That’s right. That’s another way of saying that there’s never a charge imbalance in the cell. That’s actually a subtle point about batteries that a lot of people take for granted. With the exception of negligibly small intervals of time, there should never be an imbalance of positive and negative charge within the cell.’
‘Right. Got it.’
‘Anyway, so, um, another unique feature of this, of these two clubs, is that they’re joined by an underground tunnel. But this is a tunnel that only the girls are allowed to pass through. If the guys want to go from one club to the other, they have to cross through the parking lot. The electrolyte parking lot.’
‘Okay. There’s a girls-only tunnel between Club Anode and Club Cathode.’
‘Correct. So, the cathode club, Club Cathode, opens later than Club Anode. So everyone starts out at Club Anode at the beginning of the night. Everyone’s hangin’ out. Good-timing it up. Electrons are dancing with lithium-ions.’ I put the pipe in my mouth and do a damped-down interpretation of the twist. ‘You know, they’re just lovin’ life.’
‘Right, so, all of the sudden, boom, the marquee across the way lights up, the record scratches, everyone stops and looks over at the club across the parking lot; and,’ I pause to put the pipe back in my mouth. ‘God help us all; Club Cathode is open for business!’
‘Ha! Nice! Ha, so people just start, like, rushin’ over there?’
‘Yeah,’ I took the pipe from my mouth. ‘Pretty much. And, so, one thing I didn’t mention earlier, remember when we were talking about, like, gravity, and talking about the of question of like why do, why does a ball fall to earth or, like, why do electrons want to go from the anode to the cathode?’
‘Yeah,’ Amanda nodded. ‘Uh-huh. You were saying that it was just a definition.’
‘Right. So, one thing I forgot to mention is, at this club, Club Cathode, they have this policy that ladies drink for free. So this is the driver. This electrons drink for free policy is the driver; the reason why the ladies-slash-electrons want to cross over to the cathode. This is the chemical potential. This is that definition in action.’
‘Ahhhh..’ Amanda points her finger up to her right eye and winks. ‘Alright.’
‘So, you can imagine the chaos that ensues at Club Anode; the ladies are bum-rushing the ladies-only tunnel to get over to Club Cathode. Meanwhile, the bouncers are frantically trying to maintain the one-to-one ratio and just throwing all of these dudes out of the front door, out into the parking lot at the same rate that the ladies are running out through the back door. And then, over at Club Cathode, there’s all these chicks stampeding in all at once. Just popping up through the tunnel in the back. Now those bouncers have the opposite problem as the ones at Clube Anode; they’re racing to get dudes in there from the parking lot to balance out their electron-heavy crowd. I mean,’ I raised my eyebrows and shook my head. ‘It’s not like these electrons are spending any money on drinks or anything.’
‘Ha! Right! So, they need these dudes to come in there and spend money before the club goes bust!’
‘Yep! That’s right.’
‘So, what; do the guys that just got thrown out of Club Anode run over real quick through the parking lot and meet up with the chicks at Club Cathode?’
‘Well, so, that’s where it get’s a little complicated. I mean, they certainly try to and, statistically, it’s quite possible that some of them do. But, for the most part, the dudes that are closest to the doors of Club Cathode are the ones that get pulled in to balance things out. In order for the dudes that got kicked out of Club Anode to get into Club Cathode they have to travel all the way across the electrolyte parking lot.
‘Right, got it.’
‘But, this parking lot, the electrolyte; this is a very strange place.’
‘It’s, I don’t know, it’s kind of like a middle-aged swinger sex party.’
‘Ha! Okay? So, it’s a parking lot where there is also this middle-aged swinger sex party going on.’
‘Okay. Carry on.’
‘So, it’s the electrolyte, so it’s this mixture of dissolved salts, and solvents, and additives. So there are all of these middle-aged people walking around in leather, with like whips and gimp masks and shit. You get the idea.’
‘Okay, right. So…’ she lifts her eyebrows, ‘I’m, like, really excited to see how this comes back around to batteries.’
‘Ha! Well, I’ll tell you. So, all through this sex-party parking lot, there are these single dudes, these positive ions, wandering around just looking for some action. So, you can imagine, this is the kind of place where, yeah, you could probably get laid if you wanted to, but, if you’re a single lithium-ion-slash-dude, you would really much rather pair up with an electron-slash-chick. If you’re one of these dudes wandering around this parking lot, you’re basically just biding your time until the doors to one of the clubs opens up.’
‘Likewise, you can also imagine, as a female, as an electron, there really is no incentive for you to travel through the parking lot to get to Club Cathode. Ten times out of ten, as soon as that Club Cathode opens up and that free drink special starts, every female in Clube Anode is going to bolt for the females-only tunnel.’ I put the pipe back in my mouth.
‘So, what ends up happening is that the dudes that are stuck in the parking lot closest to the entrance of Club Cathode; those are the ones that get pulled in to keep the one-to-one ratio in balance.’
‘Huh. So what else?’
‘What else?’ I stepped one leg up on the mooring pole and leaned on my knee with my elbow. I took out the pipe and held it out in front of my mouth. ‘That’s it. Ladies going back and forth between Club Cathode and Clube Anode through the electrons-only tunnel; dudes chasing them from one club to the other across the electrolyte parking lot. That’s how batteries work.’
‘Wow. It’s that simple, huh?’