Famous names in Science were invited to a gargantuan, 15-course banquet presided by Gargantua himself. Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Blaise Pascal, Leonardo Da Vinci, Louis Pasteur and many more accepted the invitation. On the menu of every course: adjectives. This story is about the first course on the menu - one cryptic word: RED.
The major-domo solemnly brought RED in a regular tureen that would feed a family of five, not an assembly of a thousand guests. Among the few people who grumbled, some had already taken their abacuses, calculators and smart phones to determine how much RED each would have based on the estimated volume of the tureen, size of soup spoon, and number of guests. At the sight of their puzzled face, Gargantua exploded in a gargantuan laugh. The laugh stopped abruptly as he snapped his fingers and a retinue of waiters appeared with a gargantuan cauldron of boiling water.
Each soup plate received one ladle of water, and each guest was asked how much RED they wanted from the tureen. Some, not knowing precisely how much they wanted, said I'd like some, please. Others, hoping RED was in powder form, said a heaped teaspoon. Einstein asked for a relative amount. Sir Isaac Newton took a prism out of his pocket and, after catching a ray of sun, directed the diffracted light to the white tablecloth. I want my soup to have this red color, he said, pointing at a precise hue in the rainbow. Using teaspoons to reach the right color proved impossible . The plate had already been emptied many times - the soup was redder than red. Pasteur, offered to help with one of his own inventions: the pipette. Reaching the right color drop by drop worked better, but was far too time-consuming for the usually radiant Marie Curie. She complained about Pasteur's "cold soup technology". Fortunately, Arnold Beckman had bought his spectrophotometer and in no time the renowned philanthropist had helped Sir Newton get his favorite 663 nanometer red, leaving Pasteur a little miffed.
Soren Sörenson insisted he’d be served enough RED so that his soup had a pH of exactly seven to 2 decimal points. To measure the pH, Sörenson had brought a thermometer and his own old-fashioned glass electrodes. The pH measurement could only start as water temperature reached 30 degrees, so three waiters had been summoned to blow on the soup plate to speed up cooling while more waiters were standing by to drop their grains of alkaline sea salt and drops of lightly acidic RED to reach the requested pH. Again, Arnold Beckman, the hero of the day, came to the rescue with his own creation, the pH meter. Although the instantaneous pH reading was a time-saver, the measure, not adjusted for the difference in temperature, was inaccurate.
This is when Steve Jobs, although not a scientist, who had been invited on account of his Apple Watch, demonstrated he could run an app on his watch to do just that. Thanks to him, the waiters soon resumed their procession to the relief of Benjamin Franklin, sitting 50 meters away, a hungry man with an empty plate. Had people been watching, they would have noticed that the pocket watch and chain in Franklin's dinner coat had been deftly transferred out of sight to a cavernous place in Franklin's breeches. Another Steve Jobs admirer.
The moral of this short story? Adjectives are subjective. Use them with moderation. What they mean to you may not necessarily be what they mean to others.
Now if you want to know what was the second course on the menu: it was LARGE.