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<   No. 2466   2009-10-27   >

Comic #2466

1 Jamie: How come the younger you was blond, when what little hair you have left now is ginger?
2 Adam: That was when that cute chemistry student showed me data that looked like the Government was testing mind control chemicals on civilians.
3 Adam: We raided military bases for evidence. I wanted a disguise, so she treated my hair with peroxide. We found nothing; turned out she tricked me.
4 Jamie: So she blonded you with science?
4 Adam: It was a bleach of security.

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"Peroxide" is a term commonly used to refer to the specific compound hydrogen peroxide, which is the most familiar of several "peroxide" compounds. "Peroxide" itself refers to a chemical compound containing oxygen, but more oxygen than normally found in combination with the other components of the compound.

In the case of hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen normally combines with oxygen in the ratio 2:1, forming the familiar compound H2O, or water. Hydrogen peroxide is simply this compound with some extra oxygen attached. The formula for hydrogen peroxide is H2O2, indicating that hydrogen and oxygen are present in the ratio 2:2 in each molecule.

Water is obviously a very stable molecule, but if you add another oxygen atom, you create something not quite so stable, and which would really rather prefer to get rid of the extra oxygen atom and become simple water. So hydrogen peroxide tends to react strongly with other chemicals and release lots of oxygen. Free oxygen happens to be a very good bleaching agent, combining with coloured compounds and removing the colour.

So one of the common uses of hydrogen peroxide is to bleach things. And since it's fairly safe compared to a lot of other chemical bleaching agents, it's often the chemical of choice for bleaching hair.

I'll never forget one time I saw an attractive blonde woman in a red convertible sports car driving down the road, several years ago. Normally this would not, in fact, be such a memorable event that I could recall it clearly after so much time, but I spotted the car's custom licence plates, which read: H2O2. This woman (a) was a science nerd, and (b) had a cool sense of humour. Hubba hubba!!

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Last Modified: Tuesday, 27 October 2009; 03:11:02 PST.
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