Pat Shingleton: "Laughing Gas and Stradavari..."
One of the Pink Panther movies finds Inspector Clouseau disguised as a local dentist who is summoned by an unsuspecting and villainous Chief Inspector Dreyfus to extract a bad tooth. An accidental release of laughing gas puts both characters into hysterics and could possibly be one of the best-humorous scenes in movie history. Nitrous oxide, often used as a dentist’s anesthetic, is now the largest ozone-depleting substance emitted from human activity. Laughing gas is produced by natural and human-related sources and is a by-product of agricultural fertilization and microbial action in wet tropical forests. Science magazine reported that a study by NOAA indicated that emissions of N2O have eroded the ozone layer and is expected to continue through the twenty-first century. Through the rest of March and into April and early May, we'll enjoy numerous cold fronts and wind-shift lines. Speaking of cold, the extremely cold early-March weather in Kentucky in '94 caused chilled air to infiltrate Mammoth Cave causing thermal contraction of the rocks and loosening a 100-ton limestone slab, causing it to crash into the Rotunda Area. The average last freeze temperature for our area is March 5. On June 1, '93, St. Cloud, Minnesota recorded its latest ever freezing temperature. In closing, Italian violin makers in the 17th and 18th centuries constructed instruments known for their superior quality. Those crafted by Antonio Stradivari may be the most sought after violins of all time. Stradivari lived In Cremona, Italy from 1644 to 1737, which was an era now designated as the Little Ice Age and is also known as Maunder Minimum due to reduced solar activity. Scientists surmise that a climate change affected tree growth, contributing to the improved acoustic quality of these violins. Researchers believe the slow, even-growth of wood patterns from this era increased the wood's density, making it stronger. Many believed Stradivari implemented techniques such as special ovens, wood seasoning or even varnish. Updated research credits climate as the key ingredient.
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