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Professor Calculus: Litmus/ Turnesol's colour?

#1 · Posted: 13 May 2005 14:25
Turnesol: a piece paper used generally by chemists for distinguising a substance is acid or base [and the original name for Professor Calculus - Mod.].
When you touch with turnesol paper to acidic material, turnesol turns red, if it is a basic material it turns blue. (For ex. when you touch it soap it turns blue, and if to vinegar it turns red.)
Assuming Hergé’s having this knowledge, could he have emphasized two sides of science?
In the good intentioned hands science brings one more step to upwards and freedom to mankind (blue). And in bad hands science turns weapon, disaster tears and blood (red).
Am I too deep?
#2 · Posted: 13 May 2005 15:11
Am I too deep?

I think so; after all, real scientists use what we in English call Litmus paper, and we don’t say that that is anything more than a procedural thing. It only reveals a very basic knowledge of chemistry, the sort that any school-boy would have (it’s thirty years since I had any chemistry classes, and I remember that).

Your assumption that blue/ alkali (I’m not sure what you imply by “basic material”) is good, and red/ acid is bad is purely subjective: in scientific terms, it is meaningless. Vinegar is an acid, but still very nice on chips, for example, and builders can get poisoned and badly burned by mortar, which is alkali.

Hergé was just indulging the same streak of literalism that had a sea-captain named after a fish, and another scientist named after a laboratory vessel (Alembic).

Good to know that there is a laboratory meaning for tournesol though: I always assumed that the name came from the French for sunflower.
#3 · Posted: 13 May 2005 21:46
Jock, we must then blame those who can not calculate volume of a pyramid, find the elapsed time for the first car meeting the second in the problem of two cars moving towards each other (with data enough), or to use formula of the Euclid theorem.

These are also very basic knowledge any school boy must learn almost at the same time litmus paper taught. It was to remind for who could have forgotton Litmus Paper as well as the solution of the problems above.

I'm not sure what you imply by "basic material"

I used the term basic for substances having alkali property (base), you had to guess I think, for to not use alkali.(Perhaps alkali is more understandable) You can be sure basic is that thing what you understand.

Your assumption that blue/ alkali (I'm not sure what you imply by "basic material") is good, and red/ acid is bad is purely subjective: in scientific terms, it is meaningless

Vinegar is really very nice on chips. But amazingly sometimes it can be one of the causes of ulcer. And more amazing than that, your understanding blue-red comparison, as acid good, alkali bad. Perhaps if you can read again the topic you will realize that is not a comparison of alkali and acid.
One year after from chemistry lessons including acids and alkali we took a meaningless, purely subjective lesson; Psychology. Not only an ordinary school boy, even some of students not related to lessons after decades could remember blue and red's meaning from those years. What to say, perhaps you also did not interest in lessons after taking the basic knowledge of them.
I will not repeat what I said in my topic, let us look what also meaningless website wikipedia.org says about blue-red.

Positives - Passion, strength, energy, fire, love, sex, excitement, speed, heat, leadership, masculinity, power
Negatives - Danger, fire, blood, war, anger, revolution, radicalism, aggression, stop

Positives - Seas, skies, stability, peace, unity, harmony, tranquility, calmness, coolness, confidence, water, ice, loyalty, conservatism, dependability, cleanliness, technology, winter
Negatives-Depression, coldness, obscenity, conservatism, technology, ice, winter

What wikipedia says about red negatively, let us repeat; blood, danger, war, aggression...
And what did I say in my topic; blood, as mentioned wikipedia, weapon instead war (sorry Jock, I may be caused you confuse with writing weapon instead of war), you can adapt the others...

Even its a less negativeness relatively, blue; I write again from wikipedia; peace, confidence, unit, tecnology (I think you can understand here tecnology. is used in good form, and sorry again if you could not understand the term tecnology from my expression in topic one more step to upwards and freedom when writing about blue.)

I had wrote about red and blue in topic from what I remind from 20 years ago. For more information in wikipedia.org website you can write colour to search section. You will see pages of documents. A little more easy way if needed;

I can write also some other sites if wikipedia is complicated.

If you surf a little on net before reply, we can discuss more effectively

In turnesol term I had to really appreciate you.
#4 · Posted: 13 May 2005 22:25 · Edited by: jock123
Sorry, I really don't understand what you are doing.

You have subjectively created two "sides" to science, extrapolated from a character's name, and then applied a lot of pseudo-science to them, taking the bits you want and just disregarding the things that don't fit - a process which if applied to anything can make it mean what one wants, regardless of the facts.

You also seem to forget that litmus paper indicates three states: acid, alkali and pH neutral, not two.

The point about acid being good on chips and causing ulcers is exactly the point I was attempting to make: acid and alkali both have positive and negative sides to them, hence your giving each a wholly "good" or wholly "bad" slant is not justified.

Colour interpretation is bound by so many sociological, environmental and cultural influences that it is pointless to specify precise values - black is the "colour" of death in Europe, but white holds those conotations in China (and I know that black and white aren't colours, but I am sure you will allow the colloquialism).
Even your own lists from Google show such a range of positive and negative interpretations on the colours that surely you can see that there is no absolutist value that holds in every case?

In fact, you treat the lists as if they are a psychological guide, and they aren't: they merely list uses of colour to indicate som other feature. For example, "blue" is associated with obscenity (a "blue joke", for example) not on any deep psychological basis, but because The Lord Chamberlain's Office, which used to be responsible for checking material to be performed on British stages for suitability, would mark material deemed offensive (sexually suggestive, scatalogical, blasphemous, etc.), and thus not licensed for performance, with a blue pencil; had they decided to use a green, yellow or purple pencil, then any of those colours could be listed as associated with obscenity. By extension, because the "blue joke" was a popular synonym for a dirty joke, and blue was the colour of the censor's pencil, you would also find people talking about a "blue" comedian, and a "blue" movie - using it entirely in the abstract because they needed a word, but I doubt that people make that association with the actual colour.

So, I don't buy your theory, and repeat that I believe the name to be nothing more than a pleasing name to give a cartoon scientist.

But please, believe what you want: as I said, it is wholly subjective.
#5 · Posted: 14 May 2005 05:04
You are looking far too deep in this. Just enjoy the Tintin comics for what they are and at the most research the events that shaped the books. Any deeper and its too deep.
#6 · Posted: 14 May 2005 06:39 · Edited by: harishankar
Your assumption that blue/ alkali (I’m not sure what you imply by “basic material”) is good, and red/ acid is bad is purely subjective: in scientific terms, it is meaningless. Vinegar is an acid, but still very nice on chips, for example, and builders can get poisoned and badly burned by mortar, which is alkali.

Technically "Acids" and "bases" are the names given to the two classes of compounds which when they react with one another produce a "chemical salt" and water. "Alkali" is a term specifically used to refer to a water soluble "base".

Hope that explains it correctly.
#7 · Posted: 14 May 2005 11:19
Tintin used to be so simple. I blame the internet!
#8 · Posted: 14 May 2005 12:44 · Edited by: jock123
Thanks, harishankar! I just hadn’t thought to relate “base” and “basic material”.

“Alkali” has several variations in sense (try Googling for a definition, and there’s quite a bit of discrepancy!): “not acid” is the one we were taught throughout school; your more specific definition above, and there are even those who would limit it strictly to the hydroxides of ammonium, lithium, potassium and sodium (although elsewhere I saw it rendered as, “principally of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium”), so as a layman, I think that it is okay to use it as a synonym for your “base”. Anyway, my mortar example falls into your definition, so I don’t feel I have erred greatly, but thank you for your helpful clarification.

Perhaps I should just have said “above pH7”… ;-)
#9 · Posted: 14 May 2005 15:30 · Edited by: harishankar
You're welcome jock123! Just helps me brush up a little on rusty knowledge learnt quite a while back! ;)

...even those who would limit it strictly to the hydroxides of ammonium, lithium, potassium and sodium...

Yes. That's right. That's because those are the water soluble bases. There aren't too many water-soluble bases, so I think that that would explain it also.

Coming to the original topic. No: I don't want to analyze that deep and for reasons already explained by the others...

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