Mike’s Corner: Rain

By Mike Wagoner
Reader Contributor

I’ve always liked the rain, listening to it dance on a tin roof or watching the steam rise off that roof after it quits and the sun comes out. It’s interesting that it’s so pure and free of salt since rain basically comes from the ocean.

When the morning sun heats the surface of the various oceans, huge amounts of surface water evaporates. That is, it changes from its liquid form into a gas — water vapor. This allows the water to escape the bonds of all that salt and travel inland on the prevailing breezes. Somebody was thinking when they came up with this because too much salt kills plants. Then, when the moist air cools down for one reason or another, the gas turns back into liquid and falls to earth as rain or snow. Warm air can pick up and transport a lot of water this way, but cool air isn’t very good at it.

There’s a little experiment that can really help to understand why. Get a large bottle and put the mouth of a deflated balloon over the top of it. You’ve just trapped a little piece of the atmosphere. Now hold the bottle under running hot water for a minute. This creates more room between the gas molecules of that air so it can pick up and hold water, like a sponge. Now, turn on the cold water, the balloon deflates because – you guessed it – the air is squeezing together. Well, this is like ringing the sponge out. And this is why it rains.

Time for the “hippie prose.”

Today, I happened upon a spider, the likes of which one may never see in a lifetime. There it was, diligently weaving a masterpiece of silk in the afternoon sun. If someone held a gun to my head and said, “Make one just like that or else,” I’d say, “You might as well just shoot me now.”

With a brain about the size of the sharp end of a pin and no parent that ever hung around at all, how is it that this thing can do this? Genetically or chemically programmed? OK, who was first?

Some days I try to intellectualize myself out of the dark. And other days I just shrug and go, “Huh, that’s cool.”

Mike Wagoner has a dual personality. By day he is a science teacher and by night a singer-songwriter. He has recently moved to the area from Nashville, where he taught school and did studio work on the side.

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