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It's all spinning wheels and self-doubt until the first pot of coffee.

Things I learned from my High School science teacher

That’s not actually me in this picture: It’s something I found in an archive of a defunct GeoCities page, from who knows when. (Though, apparently, it was forged in the era of the Counting Crows.)

But, anyway, that’s Mr. Sabo there in the middle. He was my High School science teacher, and nearly every day I remember something that he taught me. Let’s see if I can come up with a few off the top of my head…

  • You aren’t in control of an automobile; physics is. You merely provide suggestions.
  • Yield signs are stop signs: Since others are not in control of their automobiles, either, you should be more careful.
  • Always rotate the sample container while tipping out a measure of material. Never reach in with a scoop and risk contamination or unintentional reactions.
  • If you’ve learned to print in all caps from your drafting class, make sure the real capital letters are twice the height of the lower-case letters. Otherwise, you’ll fail the class.
  • The scientific method is the best means available to human beings for discovering and describing the universe, while compensating for our individual flaws and biases.
  • The scientific method doesn’t care about politics, even if scientists do.
  • You don’t know much about anything. But, that’s okay, because we have tools that help quantify how little we know about a given something.
  • Not knowing much is great, because it means there’s so much left to find.
  • Lending a copy of Gödel, Escher, Bach to a young nerd will warp his or her brain, leaving it strange forever.
  • Dropping a soup-can sized chunk of pure sodium into a lake is awesome.

I don’t know what Mr. Sabo is up to, these days. I heard he retired—good for him, sad for students. If he or anyone he knows ever reads this, I just want to say this: Thank you so much for teaching me so much. My brief time in your class had an astounding affect on my life.

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