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  • Do Not Try This At Home

    As a pseudo follow up to my thread on The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments, Wired has an insightful article on why at home chemistry experimentation is all but dead in America.

    Originally posted by Wired

    Suddenly police officers and men in camouflage swarmed up the path, hoisting a battering ram. “Come out with your hands up immediately, Miss White!” one of them yelled through a megaphone, while another handcuffed the physicist [her husband, outside] in his underwear. Recalling that June morning in 2003, Lazar says, “If they were expecting to find Osama bin Laden, they brought along enough guys.”
    The reason for this raid on the White's home wasn't because their mail-order home company sells uranium ore, extremely dangerous magnets, or geiger counters, but because they sell chemicals that could potentially be combined to make illegal fireworks.

    Originally posted by Wired

    In the past several years, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has gone after a variety of online vendors, demanding the companies require customers to prove they have a license to manufacture explosives before they can purchase any chemical associated with making them. Many of these compounds, however, are also highly useful for conducting science experiments. Sulfur, for example, is an ingredient in hydrogen sulfide, an important tool for chemical analysis. Potassium perchlorate and potassium nitrate are widely used in labs as oxidizers.
    Not to mention that any reasonably competent person can distill or refine these chemicals from products you can purchase at any store. It's just easier, safer, and cheaper to order whole-sale.

    Slashdot and Digg brought this article to my attention. It's true that it is harder than ever to find chemicals to carry out basic experiments, most of which you could pick up at your local chemist (pharmacist) 40 years ago. Should America really be so afraid of responsible at-home chemistry or be afraid of it disappearing? It is, after all, what lured many modern day top scientists into the profession.
    ~~ Veritas simplex oratio est ~~
    No matter how far a wizard goes, he will always come back for his hat. --T. Pratchett

    <---- You know you're getting old when you rely on your forum meta-data to remind you how old you are.


  • #2
    Re: Do Not Try This At Home

    My GF is a microbiologist, and she has complained on several occassions that the increased paranoia over chemicals and radioactive substances has made it very difficult to get even basic supplies necessary for research. The crackdown on "potential" threats threatens to undermine the critical work done by many different types of labs.
    In game handle: Steel Scion
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    • #3
      Re: Do Not Try This At Home

      I remember making a substance in high school chemistry that I thought was called "ammoniated iodine". When we made it it was fluid, but quickly became pasty. The drier it got, the more unstable and explosive it got. I, ummm, got my hands on some of that stuff after school that day and had some wonderful pranks with it (I'm really lucky nobody got hurt, really). I wish I could find a recipe for it now.
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      • #4
        Re: Do Not Try This At Home

        Originally posted by CingularDuality
        I wish I could find a recipe for it now.
        Your curiousity on the topic of explosives is an obvious sign that you're a terrorist. Learning? In America? Bah! Everything you need to know about life you can learn from Fox News and American Idol. Next you'll claim kids should be allowed to go to the Museum of Natural Science. Damn communis... I mean terrorist!

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        • #5
          Re: Do Not Try This At Home

          Museums should be turned into citizen reprogramming centres. Chemistry should be outlawed and scientists should be hunted like animals.

          ;)
          ~~ Veritas simplex oratio est ~~
          No matter how far a wizard goes, he will always come back for his hat. --T. Pratchett

          <---- You know you're getting old when you rely on your forum meta-data to remind you how old you are.

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          • #6
            Re: Do Not Try This At Home

            Originally posted by Rincewind
            Museums should be turned into citizen reprogramming centres. Chemistry should be outlawed and scientists should be hunted like animals.

            ;)
            Agreed.

            When I was in high school, we made napalm by dissolving shipping peanuts in gasoline. That was some fun stuff, but...not so easy to clean up.

            Nothing smells like Napalm in the morning.
            Beatnik

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            • #7
              Re: Do Not Try This At Home

              I don't have a problem with this. Chemistry and Biology are mere lesbian step-sisters to Physics and Mathematics. Not to mention the cripped midgets of the scientific community: "social" scientists.

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              • #8
                Re: Do Not Try This At Home

                Originally posted by leejo
                Chemistry and Biology are mere lesbian step-sisters to Physics and Mathematics.
                I'd like to see some hot chemistry-on-chemistry action.

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                Assume good faith - Be polite, please! - Work toward agreement. - Argue facts, not personalities. - Concede a point when you have no response to it, or admit when you disagree based on intuition or taste. - Be civil. - Be prepared to apologize. In animated discussions, we often say things we later wish we hadn't. Say so. - Forgive and forget. - Recognize your own biases and keep them in check. - Give praise when due.

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                • #9
                  Re: Do Not Try This At Home

                  Anybody ever read "How to steal this book" or "Steal this book"? I can't remember the title exactly, but it is supposed to tell you how to make all sorts of, umm, shiny flashes, along with other things.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Do Not Try This At Home

                    Originally posted by CingularDuality
                    I remember making a substance in high school chemistry that I thought was called "ammoniated iodine". When we made it it was fluid, but quickly became pasty. The drier it got, the more unstable and explosive it got. I, ummm, got my hands on some of that stuff after school that day and had some wonderful pranks with it (I'm really lucky nobody got hurt, really). I wish I could find a recipe for it now.
                    I think that it was called Ammonium Tri-Iodide.
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                    • #11
                      Re: Do Not Try This At Home

                      Way to put TG and all its members on The Watchlist. Remember this thread next time you are pulled into the back room of an airport.

                      There's nothing quite like the sound of snapping latex in the morning.
                      Peace through fear... since 1947!

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