Using the City — Courses (here: learning about amber)

Those who want to learn will learn.

Looking at the events the city offers, I tried out a course about amber. I’ve walked along beaches a few times but never found any, and a course that shows amber, gives tips on how to find it, and how to sand/polish it, might be interesting.

And yeah, while short and rather made for children — the other participants were three families with small children — it was interesting.

Turns out amber is rather hard to distinguish from stones:

On the left is a stone, on the right is amber. Yeah, it does not look that clear and polished on the beach.

Amber also swims in salt water (depending on the salt concentration, it will sink in water from the Baltic sea):

It also burns (takes a while to catch fire, tough), if you rub it against clothes it charges electro-statically and attracts, e.g., paper, and it is very light and apparently lights up under UV lamps.

You can find amber for example after autumn storms on the beach (at least at the Baltic sea). However, at least near Lübeck there is a risk of confusing it with white phosphorous. That stuff was used in WWII bombs. It looks similar and it is also lightweight — but once it dries and gets in contact with the air, it burns at temperatures between 800 and 2500°C and is difficult to extinguish. Not what you want to have in your pocket.

As for polishing it, we did use different types of sandpaper (10 minutes each, going increasingly fine). Takes a while, but you get a very even side.

And hey, given that it’s amber, you might even have some insects in it.

Overall, probably the best face to face course I did recently. There are just things you cannot learn digitally. And yup, courses are usually hit-or-miss. I also did waste a few hours being part of a children’s tour in a Baltic sea aquarium. There were hardly any exhibits and only a few good ones. Shame that a lot of these events seem to address only children.

After all, it’s never to late to learn about things that interest you.