Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mercury and The Mad Hatter

So what's a mercury spill have to do with fabric.
Well, it's a stretch, but since I was a chemistry teacher in a former life, I feel for the poor guy, who managed to get his middle school closed for a week, and this the week before the scheduled spring break.
What happened was, that a bottle of the stuff fell from a shelf and broke, and then the kids tracked the small silvery droplets all over the school. Next EPA, worried parents, nightly news etc.
 So what's it to do with me? Well this week at the guild meeting we tried to encourage more people to take the challenge for June's meeting: 'Alice Through the Looking glass'.
Even if in that story Lewis Carroll only once introduces the Mad Hatter, he is such a familiar figure in connection with Alice from the previous  'Alice in Wonderland' that I always think of him when she is mentioned.
And I think of his predicament which has to do with mercury,
He spent all day making leather top hats which were in fashion then. The leather used for these hats had been treated with mercury, a tanning agent.
So there is your connection.

 And we don't want everybody out there going mad, do we? Even if we all loved it, when a thermometer broke and we could play with the quicksilver, mercury's common name.

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