A history of potential events as chronicled by Steven Coburn-Griffis

Chapter Two

Friday, March 16, 2018

“Yes indeed,” Bart Butterman said through his grin, “Plain old water. Two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen.”

As Bart Butterrnan talked, more and more of him came into view, including the patented Bart Butterrnan Smartt tie. It worked just like a Smartt screen, but it was a tie. Anybody watching that tie closely enough would see all manner of interesting things appear and then disappear again: mathematical equations, quotes from famous philosophers and even pictures of inventions, like Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine or some really strange Rube Goldberg devices.

Even while the kids were focused on Bart Butterrnan’s Smartt tie, they began to hear a new sound; a chuckling, happy, liquid sort of sound.

On the screen, Bart Butterrnan was pouring water from a clear glass pitcher into a crystal-clear glass. He took a sip, smacked his lips and then looked serious.

“But I misspoke; there’s nothing ‘plain’ about water,” he said. “Water has changed lives. Blind and deaf, Helen Keller’s first understanding of the world was through water. Many religions, including Christianity and Islam, draw a comparison between water and life. And then there is the simple truth that over half of the human body, what makes up the greater part of all of us, is water.

“Water has inspired poets and painters, artists like William Shakespeare and Carl Sandburg, Claude Monet and Winslow Homer. And water has held an important place in music, giving musicians something to write about, to sing about, whether it’s in opera, rock or rap. Call Beyonce and ask her. I’m pretty sure I’ve got her cell number here somewhere.”

With his one free hand, Bart Butterman patted at his jacket pockets, then shrugged and grinned his famous grin.

As the students in Ms. Raczkowski’s 7th Grade Earth Sciences class watched, the camera continued to pull back until it was clear that Bart Butterrnan was standing out in the open in front of a large, circular pool. Beside him was a small round table and as he set his glass down on its surface, a tremendous jet of water erupted from the center of the pool behind him. Bart Butterman jumped and pretended to look startled before grinning and talking some more.

“Water covers 71 percent, nearly three-quarters of the surface of planet Earth,” he said. “But most of that is salt water, water we can’t drink unless it has gone through a process to remove the salt, a process called desalinization. In fact, there is really very little fresh water on the planet at all; less than 4 percent. And some of that is underground or frozen in glaciers.”

Bart Butterrnan raised the glass to his lips to take a sip, but the glass was empty. He tapped the glass with his forefinger, turned it upside down and then rubbed his lips.

“So that raises the question, ‘Should we do more to keep our fresh water safe?’ And, possibly more importantly, what can we do? Is it already too late? I mean, like Benjamin Franklin said, ‘When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.’ Is that where we are now, why we’re even asking these questions?”

Chapter Two questions

I. Bart Butterman said that water is two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen. On the periodic table of elements, the chemical symbol for water is H20 . In chemistry, an element is a substance that cannot be separated into simpler substances by chemical means. Locate a copy of the the periodic table of elements online. Look at the list and see how many of them you recognize from foods or somewhere at home. For instance, what foods contain calcium?

2. Bart Butterman’s Smartt tie, a device that may be invented in the future, showed pictures of Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine. Da Vinci sketched his flying machine in the 15th century. It looked a lot like a modern-day helicopter, the first of which was built in the 1940s. Think of three devices that we use every day and research them. Did any of them originate with a very old idea?

3. How much of you is water? Why is getting enough water important to you? What can you do each day to keep our water safe?

Chapter Two vocabulary

hydrogen

oxygen

patented

equations

philosophers

Rube Goldberg

Carl Sandburg

Claude Monet

Winslow Homer

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