A few little things

1) You know you were born to be a chemist if you look at a bowl of vegetables that leaves a deep red-violet residue, and immediately think… DAMN THAT’S A LOT OF CAROTENE. The conjugated systems of carotenoid and related compounds in [some] vegetables make them more colorful. From Wikipedia:

Conjugated systems of fewer than eight conjugated double bonds absorb only in the ultraviolet region and are colorless to the human eye. With every double bond added, the system absorbs photons of longer wavelength (and lower energy), and the compound ranges from yellow to red in color.

That’s always been pretty cool to me, and it’s kinda nice knowing how amazing chemistry can be.

2) I’ve always been *aware* of the Chinese Civil War, the rise of Mao, and all of what happened in Communist China afterwards, but up until senior year of HS, I never really *knew* the history behind it. I was well accustomed to hearing “Mao Zedong” in the forefront but this other figure Chiang Kai-Shek was mysterious, having never been uttered by my politically-passionate grandfather.

Well over the course of listening to a few conversations I finally recognized the name. They called him Jiang Jieshi (which only a few textbooks call him; most refer to him as Chiang). My first instinct: how the heck did Americans get Chiang Kai-Shek from Jiang Jieshi? This remained a mystery to me until I siphoned the all-knowing Wikipedia:

(Jieshi is the pinyin romanization of the name, based on Mandarin, but the common romanized rendering is Kai-shek which is in Cantonese romanization. As the republicans were based in Guangzhou (a Cantonese speaking area), Chiang became known by Westerners under the Cantonese romanization of his courtesy name, while the family name as known in English seems to be the Mandarin pronunciation of his Chinese family name, transliterated in Wade-Giles). In mainland China, Jiang Jieshi is the name under which he is commonly known today.

Aha! Problem solved.

So why did I make this post? I love epiphanies.

Next posts: Nietzsche, being a jack-of-all-trades


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