As it is currently a randomly selected point in the latter half of 2016, I’m going to post my thoughts on the latest terrible thing Donald Trump has said. The good news is I don’t need to repeat his terrible verbal diarrhea. The bad news is, I’m me, so I’m going to use a metaphor that relates two things that bored you to death in the eighth grade: science and politics.

What Trump’s latest idiotic spewage has people saying is, “We can no longer support Donald Trump for president.” And that’s great. But over here in the Land of the Sane, it has people saying two other things:

  1. “THIS? This, after all this time, after all his horrible dangerous rhetoric that would make literal Nazis blush, is what gets you to drop that flaming turd?”
  2. “It doesn’t matter- you will never shake the voters’ confidence in him, because they are completely divorced from reality.”

And to an extent, that second one is true: some people will always vote for the candidate they see as “theirs” – no matter what. But here’s where I start thinking about something I saw in a documentary recently: how to make liquid helium.

Liquifying helium is not easy, even by material science standards. It’s the second-lightest element there is, so you’re not coming from the direction of having a solid and pumping energy into it until it melts. You have to cool the gaseous helium down until it starts sticking together enough to be an identifiable liquid. And it’s really difficult to keep a sample of helium that cold, and then make it even a tiny bit colder, without accidentally adding a little energy to it and losing your whole sample to the ceiling. But there are a few way to do it, and one is called “evaporative cooling”.

The basic idea is this: You hold the sample suspended in a strong magnetic field that acts as a kind of a cup. Sides, bottom, no cover on top. (If you used an actual cup, it would be too warm, and also you couldn’t do the next bit.) Then, you slowly shrink the sides, and the higher-energy atoms pop up and float away, carrying some energy with them. They’re gone, but the remaining sample is cooler and denser on average. If you started out cold enough, and you do it JUUUUST right, you can wind up with a small sample of helium that has clumped itself up into a liquid. Sure, there’s not as much helium as when you started, but the stuff you’ve got is what you can work with.

If you’re still not on board with the metaphor here, the helium atoms are voters, Trump’s campaign is the magnetic field, and Trump’s mouth is the button that shrinks it. Every time he talks, it carries away just a few more voters, who take some momentum with them. You’re never going to get rid of everybody that way, but it’s still helpful to have it happen over, and over, and over again.

And with any luck, the dense residue that remains will be kept separate from the rest of the world.