I caught a cold this week, and am quite disgusted about it. In addition to making me snotty, colds make me stupid. A case in point was this morning, when I forgot a basic principle of physics: the superior heat conducting properties of most metals.
I was making oatmeal for breakfast. The oats were already in the pan, and I was adding a cup of boiling water to them while simultaneously transferring the pan from the counter to the stove. It’s the kind of pan that does not have a long handle, just two small loops, so to hold it one-handed means having one’s thumb around a loop while the fingers rest against the pan’s body.
Turns out that yes indeed, stainless steel is very efficient at conducting heat! The metal that my fingertips were resting against hit 100º Celsius almost instantly, causing me to drop the pan as if it were on fire (which it felt like it was). Water and wet oats went everywhere: all over the counter, onto the floor, and dripping down the front of the drawers and cabinets, even managing to get inside most of them. The cleanup took longer than making a batch of oatmeal.
Of course, these things only happen when you’re already stumbling and hungry and wanting nothing more than to sit down and eat something hot. It’s like Murphy’s Law of the kitchen.
At any rate, I can now attest that personal experimentation is indeed a great way to commit physical laws to memory. Heat conduction, yep, got that one.