This blog is my attempt to reconnect with the world of chemistry. I have a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry and make a living doing research for a large company in Michigan. As times have changed, that company has changed its focus and I no longer have as much chance to do the basic, fundamental research which I most enjoy. Through this blog, I am hoping to recapture the magic which I felt during my graduate (and undergraduate) days in college. Expect topics on chemistry and alchemy along with some non-chemistry related items which I think might be interesting.

"The chymists are a strange class of mortals, impelled by an almost insane impulse to seek their pleasure among smoke and vapour, soot and flame, poisons and poverty; yet among all these evils I seem to live so sweetly that may I die if I would change places with the Persian King."

Johann Joachim Becher (phlogistonist)
Acta Laboratorii Chymica Monacensis, seu Physica Subterranea, (1669).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Okay, So It's Been a Week and a Half Since I Last Posted

Okay, okay.... So it's been a week and a half since I suggested that my frequency of posting was going to return to normal. I've been so busy at work trying to solve another problem (which recently came to our attention) that I haven't even been keeping up with other chemistry blogs, which are often my inspiration for posts. I'm still getting up at 5 in the morning in order to work in the garden (it's the only time my wife allows me to do whatever I want), so I don't feel like staying up very late writing these things. And the Pistons are still in the playoffs, although that could end at any moment. Since I don't have anything new to post today, I'll just try to amuse you with my best sodium explosion story from grad school.

It was an organic analysis lab class and we were heating some unknown organic material with sodium for some reason. Organikers may remember why. Perhaps we were trying to convert NO2 groups to NH2, I'm too tired to look it up. Well, somebody failed to decompose the leftover sodium pellet in their testtube with ethanol, and so when they threw the products into the sink, the sodium exploded after sitting a few seconds in the bottom of the drain pipe. No big deal, really. We'd all heard explosions before, but when the TA walked back into the lab (he had been gone during the explosion), he started sniffing the air and asked if anything was burning. We could all smell the sodium in the air. We dutifully denied any knowledge of this and he let the matter drop. What made the incident memorable to me was that the bunsen burners throughout the lab were all bright yellow, a clear sign of the sodium in the air. In fact, the relative brightness of each burner throughout the room clearly identified which sink had been the site of the explosion. The TA never noticed.

1 comment:

Ψ*Ψ said...

Great story! I guess I can forgive your absence. :)