Go Ask Your Father: Heat Pumps, Fire Ants, Brains, and Bad Words

It’s been quite a while since I’ve answered some questions. I haven’t written many down either. I’m back on track now. Or at least it appears that way. I could be just running around in circles. It’s hard to tell.

How do heat pumps work?

DW asked this one and I can’t for the life of me remember why. I think she was talking to her brother and he was talking about the heat pump at their house needing replaced. Sounds right, anyway. Turns out it’s simple physics and science. When I say simple, I mean complicated. Imagine walking outside in winter naked as a newborn. It’s freezing outside and your body is warm (for a moment). Since heat flows from warm to cold, your body heat flows to the surrounding air and you cool off because you’re losing heat. This same process can happens in reverse in heat pumps to heat houses. Except to get heat out of cold air, you need to pass that cold air over something that’s even colder. In the case of heat pumps, it’s a refrigerant. Yep, exactly the one in your refrigerator. Another scientific part is that the “something colder” is a gas (CO2) filled coil. When gas expands it cools significantly. You probably felt this when spraying an aerosol can – a can of hair spray. So it passes through a compressor and allowed to expand again. Once it expands it gets cold. The heat from the air then flows into the cold CO2 warming it. The warm gas then flows by the fan that transfers the heat in the gas to the air and it’s blown into your house. See. Simple science.

Why do fire ants make our skin burn?

Because they’re little bastards that like to see humans terrified of such a small creature. I just read that most biting ants bite then spray the wound with an acid. Geez. I’ll pass, thanks. On the contrary, fire ants bite only for grip. Once gripped they sting from their abdomen. With the stinger they inject a toxic alkaloid (aka fancy pants chemical compound) venom called Solenopsin. For us human folk this fancy pants chemical compound gives a sensation of burning. To those sensitive to stings, this venom can be deadly.

What does your brain do?

Bang asked this one night at bedtime. For several nights he wanted to discuss brains. I tried to convince him to grow up to be a neurosurgeon. At first he said yeah, he would be one. The next night he had changed his mind because he doesn’t want to cut people’s heads off. Guess I didn’t explain it too good. Essentially, our brains are grey, wrinkly sponges that control our entire body. Everything from our senses to our organs to our movements to our thoughts and feelings and dreams. Though, in some people, we really do wonder what they’re using their brain for. Sometimes it does nothing more than keep our ears apart, right Ma?

Why do big kids say bad words?

Big kids say shit because it makes them feel like adults. It pisses me off when I hear “kids” saying bad words. These are adult words to be used during adult times. They are not to be just thrown out there like a common douche. Crash and Bang have been testing out the waters with a particular swear word. Arse. That would be the polite swear word for ass. One evening over their bowls of yogurt Crash tells us, “I farted in bed and it felt like my butt cheeks were flapping.” Bang responds without missing a single beat, “Flappy arse.” How could we not not laugh? Because we laughed, he continued. Now arse is nearly a household word. I’ve told them that’s an “at home” word and if I hear of them using elsewhere they’ll get their arses tanned.



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