You may glance at today’s title and think of a delicious sauce used in Mexican cuisine, but that is not what I had in mind. Maybe you thought about the skin blemish, that isn’t it. No, the small, burrowing creature isn’t it, either. If you remember your high school chemistry class, or are a chemist, you know what today’s holiday commemorates. Mole Day is to chemists that Pi Day is to mathematicians.
So, briefly, what is a mole? It’s the amount of a pure substance that contains the same number of chemical units as there are atoms in exactly 12 grams of carbon-12. It is written out as: 6.02 × 1023. Chemists commonly refer to the measurement of a mole to an amount of a substance containing Avogadro’s number (from Avogradro’s Law) of whatever units are being measured.
What is Avogadro’s Law? Without getting too technical, it was first stated in 1811 by the Italian chemist Amedeo Avogadro regarding the measurement of gases. He determined that “equal volumes of gases at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of molecules regardless of chemical nature and physical properties”. Avogadro’s number is one of the fundamental constants of chemistry. If you want a more technical description than I am able to provide, there are numerous chemistry sites on the Web to consult. Why not check into it as a project for today?
How did we come up with October 23rd as Mole Day in the United States? Well, take 10 to the 23rd power and you have the day. The time we celebrate it falls between 6:02AM and 6:02PM from the 6.02 portion of the Mole formula. There are two alternate Mole Days. People who use the MM-DD date format celebrate it on June 2nd (06/02); those who use the DD-MM format celebrate on the 6th of February. Both alternates are celebrated between 10:23AM and 10:23PM.
Wisconsin high school chemistry teacher Maurice Oehler started the commemoration to inspire his students to study chemistry. In addition to Mole Day, the American Chemical Society sponsors National Chemistry Week, this week. It is always celebrated during the week that Mole Day falls.
Now that we know today is Mole Day, how can we celebrate it? We might enjoy preparing an entree that contains Mole sauce. We could calculate the amount of ingredients needed to bake brownies or cupcakes. How about some Avogadro Dip for snack time?
Some people celebrate Mole Day by composing stories or songs. Punsters enjoy creating Mole Day jokes. How about sketching a cartoon about a mole. You could create a mole sock puppet and carry it with you as your special companion for today.
If you want to get more serious. You can find an educational article about the mole on the Web. You can calculate, in grams, a mole of everyday substances like water, metals, oxygen, etc. I plan on contemplating the Periodic Table of the Elements.
Make today enlightening by celebrating Mole Day in your own special way.