Ask Anthony Piazza if he is familiar with the Avogadro constant, and he gets a little offended.
“Any science student should know about it,” says the second-year physics major. “Really, it’s something students should have learned in high school.”
Piazza was one of dozens of students celebrating Mole Day yesterday in honour of 19th century chemist Amedeo Avogadro, who deduced that an equal volume of gases contain equal numbers of molecules. From there, scientists fixed on the number of atomic mass units in a gram: 6.02 x 1023, and named this enormous number a “mole,” short for molecule.
Why October 23? It’s all about the exponent: 10.23 = October 23.
The Science Society has added Mole Day to its roster of annual celebrations, says social events officer Peter Rowsell, a third-year chemistry student who spent the day distributing corn chips and guacamole from its office in Essex Hall.
“It was a collective agreement by our council to add it right into our constitution,” he says, although he acknowledges the number has a special significance for chemistry. “We use it all the time.”
Over the course of the day, a team of volunteers from the student society handed out more than eight kilos of guacamole. Why guacamole? In addition to containing “mole” in the word, the dip is made of avogadros!