Hydrogen: bedtime story

5:46 minutes

—Chapter 4—

“The Hydrogen Chronicles”

In his tree house, Professor Jelly Belly scribbled furious. He wrote on the blackboard with white powdery chalk. He gave a little choking cough. The chalk cloud swirled around his rapid moving hand and pudgy thinking head.

“This is it. Eureka! I have invented Hydrogen,” shouted Professor Jelly Belly with glee. He threw the chalk in the air.

Of course, Jelly Belly didn’t realize inventing hydrogen is impossible. It’s one of the basic elements. But this mattered little to Jelly Belly. He was too far into his imaginary adventure to stop now.

“I always wanted to invent hydrogen. Now can fill my giant balloon and sail to Mars.” He was delirious with excitement.

Jelly Belly paced the wooden floor in a dirty white laboratory coat. His breast pocket full of sharpened pencils. He wore wire-rimmed reading glasses on his pug nose. It seemed the proper attire for a thinking man of science.

“All I need is separating a hydrogen atom from an oxygen atom and whoopee … hydrogen to fill my balloon. Now what material provides oxygen and hydrogen.”

Professor Jelly Belly went to his ancient science library. There on the very top shelf was a big fat chemistry book.

“Hmm, looks kind of heavy,” mumbled the most intelligent professor. “I better think about this for a minute.”

Professor Jelly Belly sat down in a rickety chair. He felt a bulge in his side pocket. It was the breakfast orange he had neglected to eat. He had been too wound up. He took out his pocket knife and sliced off a small top part. The orange immediately filled the air with a tangy fragrance.

“Wow, I forgot how hungry I am,” said the salivating Professor.

He carefully removed the peel in a long winding swirl.

Pleased with himself, Professor Jelly Belly put the swirl on the side table. He admired its structure and symmetry.

“Beautiful,” sighed the Professor. He pigged down the golden sections as juice slobbered down his chin into a puddle on the floor.

“Gack, choke, aaa … ” cried Jelly Belly wheezing on an orange seed clogging his windpipe. He tried to stand to get help. But slipping in the juice puddle, he staggered into the bookcase instead. The big chemistry book fell tumbling down. Bonk! It hit Professor Jelly Belly bouncing off the top of his round head. The little seed shot out of the Professor’s throat, landing splat on the open chemistry book. Professor Jelly Belly staggered a step and fell flat on his face. He slept in this uncomfortable position, dreaming, for some time.

“Goodness gracious, what happened?” said Professor Jelly Belly as he rubbed his lumpy head. “Holy Cow! Look! Just like in my dream.”

Professor Jelly Belly propped himself on one elbow. He stared. His pudgy finger pointing at the orange seed glued to the book’s section about water.

“Two hydrogens and an oxygen. Water is the perfect solution. This is incredible. Serendipitous.”