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(Wired)   Vintage chemistry sets show that we used to be way more laid back about chemicals   (wired.com ) divider line
    More: Cool, chemicals, silent spring, biological engineering, chemistry  
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3737 clicks; posted to Geek » on 06 Jun 2014 at 10:09 PM (1 year ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-06-06 08:37:58 PM  
I actually made chlorine gas once out of bleach as a kid with my chemistry set back in the 60s.

/Good times.
 
2014-06-06 08:55:44 PM  
I had one, in the mid-70s.  Real chemicals and everything.  There were small warning labels on the dangerous things, but nothing really dire.  It had glass and a bunsen burner, and everything you would have needed to make a small bomb, I'm sure.  Jesus, it's a wonder I survived.
 
2014-06-06 09:06:01 PM  
I got one on March 20th 1969 when I was six.
It was a birthday present from my dad.

Two days later, we had a major house fire. When mom called him at work to tell him that the house was on fire, his only words were "Oh shiat.. not the chemistry set!" Fortunately for me, I was at school when it started, otherwise there's no farking way that anyone was going to believe it was anything else.

/It was the TV which was later recalled for electrical faults
//Everyone got out OK because Fluffy was a hero and barked which alerted my mom to the fire, who grabbed my 1 year old brother and ran out.
///CSB
 
2014-06-06 09:13:43 PM  
I loved my old chemistry set.  Half the shiat in there was toxic as hell.  I once tried to make glowworms using my mom's silverware.  I learned about oxidation reactions and then she taught me about Newton's Laws when she took a wooden spoon to my backside.

Another time, I did a science fair experiment where I tested the ability of different salts on the freezing point of ice.  My science teacher was impressed but made sure I knew that most of the chemicals were toxic.  Right, like I'm supposed to know that cyanide salts are toxic.
 
2014-06-06 09:23:51 PM  
Remember the article some time back about a 1950's era chemistry set that came with a bunch of radioactive samples so that your kid could be the next Edward Teller?
 
2014-06-06 09:36:25 PM  
Around 1974 a friend of mine who wasn't as scientifically-inclined as me asked to check out my chemistry set, so I brought it with me next time my folks visited his folks. He had a go randomly mixing some of the chemicals, then got bored and walked away and left a small dish of goopy blue stuff on the table. His idiot cat ate some. And urped it right back up, but it came back out more green than blue. Cat was none the worse for wear. \csb
 
2014-06-06 09:40:10 PM  
A few of my friends and I did some serious research into rocket fuel

/amazing what some of those chemicals would do when mixed at random
//ah... the good old days
 
2014-06-06 09:55:14 PM  
Lessee, I was in 8th or 9th grade when I got one of those.  Convinced my dad to buy me some 151 rum to use in the burner.
 
2014-06-06 10:12:35 PM  
This is better:

craphound.com

Radioactive elements are fun to play with!
 
2014-06-06 10:14:25 PM  
A particularly memorable science lesson recalled in New Scientist magazine (25 Mar 1995)

Teacher: Now boys we are about to demonstrate an exothermic reaction

(boys copy the word off the board)

Teacher: We take a piece of calcium hydroxide in a pair of tongs and hold it over a bunsen burner until it glows. We then leave it to cool.

(boys do as they are told)

Teacher: We now have calcium oxide. Put a largish piece in the palm of your hand and allow water to drip from the tap onto it

(boys do so)

Teacher: This is called ....

(boys: AAAARGH!)

Teacher: ...an exothermic reaction. If any of you had kept the piece of material in your hands you would have seen the reconstituted calcium hydroxide.

The resulting blister lasted several days, leaving the boys with an indelible memory of what an exothermic reaction was
 
2014-06-06 10:34:48 PM  
spent the day playing with activated charcoal, zeolite resin, naoh, hcl and naoCl. water filter excellence.

tight.

tight tight tight.
 
2014-06-06 10:45:25 PM  
 
2014-06-06 10:46:06 PM  

flaminio: This is better:

Radioactive elements are fun to play with!


They are. And some are only as dangerous as lead if handled correctly. Paranoia is an enemy of learning.
 
2014-06-06 10:48:50 PM  
Sweet! Today's "chemistry" sets are nothing but baking soda and vinegar.
 
2014-06-06 10:50:18 PM  
Late 80's here and I may have had one of the last *real* chemistry sets.  I can still remember the smell of burning sulfur.  Given the stuff that was in there, it's a wonder I'm still alive except perhaps that I was old enough to realize that if the little bottle said POISON on the lid that maybe I shouldn't try a taste test.
 
2014-06-06 10:56:19 PM  
I was kinda shocked at what is available now compared to what I had in the late 80s early 90s

It's like.... nothing fun today.

//But safer, that's for sure.
 
2014-06-06 10:59:25 PM  
First Chemistry set when I was 8, made my first gunpowder/rocket fuel when 9....

My parents has just divorced, so my Dad was buying me anything I wanted. First I got the big Gilbert Chemistry Set with the cool racks for storing the chemicals, scale, the alcohol burner, etc., and then  I'd go into the hobby shop and just pick chemicals ("Perfect Inc." chemicals in little glass jars) and glassware at random. Took them home and mixed them at random. Made lots of messes. Never could pronounce "Phenophalin" solution, but I recognized it when I saw it, and got lots of it, and so forth.

Then I got the Gilbert Geology Set, the Gilbert Microscope Kit, Astronomical telescope and so on...Had myself a cool little lab by 10 years old. Then left it all behind when I moved to the Philippines. Got more science stuff there. The tropics was loaded with cool stuff to stick under a microscope. Then I got into electricity....

I'm going to resume the madness when I get the retirement farm up and running. A tidy little lab and workshop for soil/rock testing, microscopy of the surrounding Flora/Fauna, building my gadgets,  a big ass Dobsonian Telescope with CCD and computer so I can do Asteroid Hunting.... Play, play play.

Sadly, I'll probably get raided by Homeland Security for having Suspicious Scientician Stuff...
 
2014-06-06 11:26:24 PM  
As a girl I didn't have a chemestry kit.  I got a makeup kit (my brother got the chem kit).  I remember making some kind of blush paste and smearing it on a small section of the wall.  No matter how many times we painted over it bled through.

Now THAT is chemestry.
 
2014-06-06 11:49:59 PM  
I had one of these.  :-)

i.imgur.com
 
2014-06-07 12:39:34 AM  
I remember Christmas in 1975 (I think it was then) when my brothers and I got a chemistry set for Christmas. I remember that we put a little of each chemical from the set in the test tube and then we heated the test tube with a propane torch.

There was this AWESOME bluish-purple flame that shot out of the test tube. It was about six inches to a foot long! That poor test tube was never the same after. We couldn't clean it at all.

Good times.
 
2014-06-07 12:39:45 AM  

flaminio: This is better:

[craphound.com image 584x768]

Radioactive elements are fun to play with!


Yup. Well, until your body parts start falling off.

Radium Girls

CSB

The place where this happened isn't too far away from where I live. It's still classified as a Superfund site. As in, the EPA still isn't sure how much radiation is left there. I was offered a job right across the farking street from that site. It was within spitting distance. During the interview I asked the people what they knew about the history of their next door neighbor. No one had a clue about what took place there. That combined with the site being a disorganized headache helped seal my decision to politely refuse the job offer.

/It was a new plant to use a new process of making titanium parts starting with powdered titanium, IIRC.
//Supposedly they had a contract with Boeing.
///Sounds interesting, but no thanks.
 
2014-06-07 12:48:49 AM  
 
2014-06-07 01:48:44 AM  
To all the people that say it is a "wonder" or "miracle" that they are still alive after having a chemistry set in the 60's, 70's, or 80's, remember all children are dumber now than you were then.  This is why we must protect the children.  They are slowly getting dumber, and we are not reproducing (as a species) enough to replace every child who has a chemistry set, as 100% will kill themselves (and probably the whole block).  If they don't do it accidentally then they will commit suicide, because knowledge of science depresses the human being and they will blow themselves up.

Things that didn't extictify our species 50 years ago will now, because we are less capable as a species.  Protect the species, make sure 100% of children eventually reproduce.  Learning is secondary to reproduction!  Helmets for all, protect your junk, men!  Anything less than 100% safe children is a failure of the species and we should make more laws.  Keep making laws until we all live past reproduction.  No natural selection.  Nature is wrong!  Only random selection!

Say no to all chemicals!  Say no to all chemicals in the universe!  Live a natural life instead! Live a life of energy!  And not dark energy, only light energy!
 
2014-06-07 03:44:02 AM  
My dad had a huge chemistry set down in the cellar in the 60's. My brother and I used to raid it and mess with stuff. I don't remember exactly what we did, but I remember melting metals over the kitchen stove. Sometimes I wonder how I'm still alive.
 
2014-06-07 04:44:22 AM  
"how to affect the air of an alchemist"

Fail.
 
2014-06-07 05:47:44 AM  
Got mine at age 15, 1967. Had lots of cool chlorates, azides,
 
2014-06-07 06:56:35 AM  
In 1960, on my tenth birthday, I was given a large, elaborate chemistry set. If I were to go out and purchase all the things that were in it today, I'm pretty sure I'd be arrested.
 
2014-06-07 07:49:06 AM  

Tony_Pepperoni: I had one of these.  :-)

[i.imgur.com image 850x584]


Holy shiat... that brings the memories back.  Unfortunately I was too stupid to understand how to properly use those little spring like connectors all over the board.  Instead of tilting them to the side a little and then inserting the bare end of the wire, I'd pull up on the connector instead, stretching it out and ruining it.
 
2014-06-07 08:07:09 AM  
Question for you chemistry types as this has bugged me for awhile...

In 1987, I was in a 7th grade chemistry class.  The teacher was discussing two elements that day and gave us demonstrations of each.  The first was magnesium which was bad ass to watch burn and the second was a strange item that exploded when it made contact with water.  I can't for the life of me remember what it was.  I want to say silicon, but I don't think that correct as when I tried looking that up, I read that it isn't reactive to water.

The teacher brought out this fist-sized lump of stuff.  It appeared to be reddish-orange and a very rough texture.  I remember the teacher could slice it with a knife.  The inside had a milky appearance, almost transparent and the reddish-orange skin was a crust that was about 1/4" thick or less.

The teacher opened this plexiglass hood over a tub of water, threw in a small chunk of this stuff and immediately shut the hood.  "Watch this!" he said as the chunck began to fizzle and then BAM! It exploded.

I wish I could've gotten my hands on some of that... but I was only able to secure a few pellets of magnesium he had dropped on the floor and didn't notice.  I went home that day to show my mother how awesome magnesium is when it burns a hole through a piece of your fancy holiday silverware.

Any idea at what that stuff was?
 
2014-06-07 08:48:30 AM  

Satanus Maximus: Question for you chemistry types as this has bugged me for awhile...

In 1987, I was in a 7th grade chemistry class.  The teacher was discussing two elements that day and gave us demonstrations of each.  The first was magnesium which was bad ass to watch burn and the second was a strange item that exploded when it made contact with water.  I can't for the life of me remember what it was.  I want to say silicon, but I don't think that correct as when I tried looking that up, I read that it isn't reactive to water.

The teacher brought out this fist-sized lump of stuff.  It appeared to be reddish-orange and a very rough texture.  I remember the teacher could slice it with a knife.  The inside had a milky appearance, almost transparent and the reddish-orange skin was a crust that was about 1/4" thick or less.

The teacher opened this plexiglass hood over a tub of water, threw in a small chunk of this stuff and immediately shut the hood.  "Watch this!" he said as the chunck began to fizzle and then BAM! It exploded.

I wish I could've gotten my hands on some of that... but I was only able to secure a few pellets of magnesium he had dropped on the floor and didn't notice.  I went home that day to show my mother how awesome magnesium is when it burns a hole through a piece of your fancy holiday silverware.

Any idea at what that stuff was?


Sounds like Sodum (Na)
 
2014-06-07 08:49:10 AM  

HighlanderRPI: Sounds like Sodum (Na)


Damnit, SODIUM

/Moar coffee
 
2014-06-07 08:59:09 AM  

HighlanderRPI: HighlanderRPI: Sounds like Sodum (Na)

Damnit, SODIUM

/Moar coffee


I'm sure you're correct, it was a "so-something".  But when I find pictures of sodium, it doesn't appear to look like what I saw.  I watched some videos of guys droppoing sodium in water and it definitely looks like the exact same effect.  Perhaps I'm recalling the appearance of the material incorrectly.

But oh how I'd love to throw tiny pieces into a crowded swimming pool and watch the water turn to shades of yellow and brown...
 
2014-06-07 09:57:55 AM  
Yep, sodium that wasn't stored properly. It oxidizes to sodium peroxide over time; that's the crust.

"Reddish-orange" sounds more like potassium to me, though -- potassium superoxide is yellow or orange, but sodium peroxide is usually just white or gray.
 
2014-06-07 10:16:59 AM  

AmbassadorBooze: To all the people that say it is a "wonder" or "miracle" that they are still alive after having a chemistry set in the 60's, 70's, or 80's, remember all children are dumber now than you were then.  This is why we must protect the children.  They are slowly getting dumber, and we are not reproducing (as a species) enough to replace every child who has a chemistry set, as 100% will kill themselves (and probably the whole block).  If they don't do it accidentally then they will commit suicide, because knowledge of science depresses the human being and they will blow themselves up.

Things that didn't extictify our species 50 years ago will now, because we are less capable as a species.  Protect the species, make sure 100% of children eventually reproduce.  Learning is secondary to reproduction!  Helmets for all, protect your junk, men!  Anything less than 100% safe children is a failure of the species and we should make more laws.  Keep making laws until we all live past reproduction.  No natural selection.  Nature is wrong!  Only random selection!

Say no to all chemicals!  Say no to all chemicals in the universe!  Live a natural life instead! Live a life of energy!  And not dark energy, only light energy!


In defense of modern parents, now that I have an actual chemistry degree, I realize all of the various ways I could have maimed, poisoned or killed myself with that kit.
 
2014-06-07 10:24:08 AM  
There is a whole column of elements in the periodic table that react the way you describe:  Lithium, Sodium, Potassium, Rubidium, Cesium, and Francium.  Sodium and Potassium are the favorites in that kind of demonstration.  It knocks the hydrogen off the oxygen atom and binds to the oxygen.  The resultant energy release is enough to cause the freed hydrogen to react to atmospheric oxygen.
 
2014-06-07 10:50:21 AM  

Tony_Pepperoni: I had one of these.  :-)


Hey! Me too! Used the Big Ear project to eavesdrop on what was going on upstairs while I was in the basement.
 
2014-06-07 10:57:49 AM  

Satanus Maximus: HighlanderRPI: HighlanderRPI: Sounds like Sodum (Na)

Damnit, SODIUM

/Moar coffee

I'm sure you're correct, it was a "so-something".  But when I find pictures of sodium, it doesn't appear to look like what I saw.  I watched some videos of guys droppoing sodium in water and it definitely looks like the exact same effect.  Perhaps I'm recalling the appearance of the material incorrectly.

But oh how I'd love to throw tiny pieces into a crowded swimming pool and watch the water turn to shades of yellow and brown...


The colour difference would be due to an oxidation crust. Sodium itself is a dull grey/white colour. If it were potassium, it would have exploded immediately, and lithium likely wouldn't explode, but just burn ferociously.
 
2014-06-07 11:50:59 AM  

Satanus Maximus: But oh how I'd love to throw tiny pieces into a crowded swimming pool and watch the water turn to shades of yellow and brown...


I have heard (and admittedly this might be an urban legend) that at one time people would go fishing by throwing a block of pure sodium in a pond, wait for an explosion, and then pick up all of the fish that got blasted out of the pond or that got stunned and floated to the surface.  Eventually the state of California had to outlaw the practice (I don't know if it's illegal elsewhere).

I just Googled it, and apparently the practice is called blast fishing, and is still practiced in some parts of the world, but it's not clear if sodium is used.
 
2014-06-07 03:36:53 PM  
You need to learn to experiment. Failure is rarely fatal (mostly).

True story - I built an 110 volt electrical circuit for demonstration project in high school early (1971's). I plugged it in, threw the switch and, voila, the light came on. The finale was to demonstrate a fuse by throwing a knife switch to caused a short circuit.

I threw the switch, walked down the hall, flipped the circuit breaker to turn on lights for that wing of the building, checked the fuse, and confirmed it had blown. My teacher responded by telling me something to the effect "that's was good; don't do it again."

A government school today would probably have Homeland Security arrest me under anti-terrorism laws.
 
2014-06-07 05:27:40 PM  
 
2014-06-07 06:02:47 PM  

CtrlAltDestroy: flaminio: This is better:

[craphound.com image 584x768]

Radioactive elements are fun to play with!

Yup. Well, until your body parts start falling off.

Radium Girls



Jesus Fark.

The U.S. Radium Corporation hired some 70 women to perform various tasks including the handling of radium, while the owners and the scientists familiar with the effects of radium carefully avoided any exposure to it themselves; chemists at the plant used lead screens, masks and tongs.

The brushes would lose shape after a few strokes, so the U.S. Radium supervisors encouraged their workers to point the brushes with their lips, or use their tongues to keep them sharp. For fun, the Radium Girls painted their nails, teeth and faces with the deadly paint produced at the factory.


Women were disposable.
 
2014-06-07 07:50:05 PM  
While I did get a chemistry set, I was more inclined to this;

2.bp.blogspot.com

among other things, you could make a beer powered radio
i.ebayimg.com

or a transistor radio designed apparently to be worn by menacing looking women on bicycles
tronixstuff.files.wordpress.com


/'STRAYA!
//You used to be cool, Dick
 
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