• TRINIDAD RICARDO-LUNA posted an update 8 months ago

    Potassium
    “One must distrust the almost-the-same, the practically identical, the approximate, the or-even, all the surrogates, and all patchwork. The differences can be small, but they can lead to radically different consequences” (60).
    This reflection of Levi’s made me think of how we are often tempted to substitute what is not available. In many cases, substituting is harmless, but others it is crucial to have exactly what “it is.” Levi said that potassium is “Sodium’s twin” (Levi, 58), but even between twins there are deep and strong differences, that is why the potassium caused an explosion while sodium wouldn’t have. Just as two people are two different human beings, two elements are two different elements, two languages are two different languages, otherwise they would be called only one word, not two different ways. There are many cases in which people want to think that a substitute will do the trick, but it doesn’t. Some women, for instance, fall in love with the same kind of man because they are obsessed with that first one that broke their heart. The way I see it, their heart will be broken again both if the man is similar or not. In chemistry as in life, it matters if things are 100% or not. If what’s involved is different, the outcome will be different. I have four brothers, all older than me. I can tell the same to all of them, nothing too serious, but two of them will overreact and be offended forever, one them will be angry while the other sad; the other two will forget what I said between the next 5 minutes and 24 hours. The words “almost,” “practically,” “approximate” indicate immediately that there are differences, that it is what it is, not something else.
    “I was so young as to think that it might be possible to change a superior’s ideas (Levi, 117).

    This quote was interesting to me because it seems to associate youth with change and innovation. At the same time, it could also be interpreted that old people or with a long time in a position are not interested in or encourage change. I think these two complementary interpretations are debatable.

    Burning questions
    • Did Levi’s opinion of women change over time? At first, he acknowledges how many things women could do with their hands, while men apparently didn’t know what to do with them. Later on, he talks about women as useful only to have children.
    • What are some of those minerals that have names whose roots mean “deception, fraud, bedazzlement” (Levi, 64), and why were they named like that?

    Works Cited
    Levi, Primo, and Raymond Rosenthal. The Periodic Table. Schocken Books, 1995.