Humanity's Dangerous Ability to Make Connections Between Things

A few months ago — Family Day, to be exact — I bought my kids a tornado maker. We were visiting the Ontario Science Centre and no visit to the Science Centre is complete without a trip to the gift shop.

The tornado maker is basically a $20 plastic blender, with a plastic paddle at the bottom in place of the normal rotating blades. You fill the reservoir with clear water, screw on the top, and turn the thing on. The paddle spins, producing a vortex that pulls down from the surface of the water, just like a tornado. Also included was a button to unleash real tornado sounds, and a DVD containing an episode of Storm Chasers. The kids had fun with it.

This past weekend, Erin and Vivian went to Home Outfitters and bought a carbonator. This handy little device takes a canister of carbon dioxide, and enables you to spew it into a bottle of water (or any liquid, for that matter). Add syrup to the newly carbonated liquid, and you have instant soda. It works quite well, and once we got the nuance of the thing, and cleaned up the sprays of carbonated water, we were in business.

It’s marketed as a device to save on recycled bottles, but it’s also a good way to give your children the soda pop experience without actually giving them soda pop. Any liquid can be carbonated — orange juice, apple juice, even mint tea. We haven’t tried coffee yet, but give us time.

Anyway, getting up this morning, and making breakfast after rushing to get Vivian to school, I happen to spy the tornado maker on the kitchen counter not too far from the carbonator. Grandma Rosemarie is here on a visit and the kids wanted to show her what the tornado maker can do. Seeing the two devices so close together put a thought into my head.

That thought went: I wonder what would happen if I put carbonated water in the tornado maker…


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