Kids today just don't get a proper education


#6

I suspect nitre - potassium nitrate, aka saltpetre - is a bit more difficult to buy than it used be. Back in the day you could buy packets at any chemist.

In fact, in those days you could restock - and enlarge - a chemistry set over the counter.


#7

Ah, the good old days when you could buy arsenic at the chemist’s. Many a murder mystery based on that one. In fact ‘Strong Poison’ has Harriet Vane testing out the theory for a mystery she is writing by going round buying arsenic from different places, which of course gets her arrested and tried for murder.

I probably won’t try to source the potassium nitrate, best not, really …


#8

So many obstacles in the way of enquiring minds and making things go Bang! We are sadly diminished


#9

Made for a good weedkiller, too.

You can still buy ammonium sulphamate as a compost accelerator and stump remover, but you should not use it as a weedkiller within the EU. That would be very naughty.


#10

perish the thort.


#11

You’ll just have to wait six weeks…


#12

Now I think about it, I haven’t seen a chemistry set in the shops for years, I suppose that’s the ‘elf & safety’ nazis for you, they don’t like kids to have fun these days… and have you seen the playgrounds ? bark under climbing frames and such for a soft landing…in my day, you only fell off once because we learnt quickly not to fall off twice !!!


#13

They’re still available, but I doubt the necessaries for experiments like the above would be included! As far as I can tell, even school demonstrations are more likely to be on video than done in the flesh. It’s cheaper, of course (probably a bigger concern than H&S) but there’s nothing quite like the excitement of seeing a lump of sodium being dropped into water, or making and tasting (I kid you not!) sulphurous acid (No, not sulphuric; that would be taking things a bit too far)


#14

I think I recall potassium and water being exciting too but it was a long time ago so I may be confusing it with sodium anyhow


#15

Either works–their both from the same group in the periodic table (alkali metals). Both produce the appropriate hydroxide and hydrogen. Actually, now I think of it, you’re right—potassium is the spectacular one; the reaction is exothermic to the extent that the hydrogen ignites.

If you want real fun, have a look at further down in that group: rubidium and caesium:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSZ-3wScePM


#16

Though francium is too big and unreactive to be much fun.


#17

And there’s only a few atoms of it in existence (naturally, that is) at any time, I believe.


#18

Well, my chemistry teacher was obviously no fun at all, she didn’t let us play with rubidium or caesium, I know I would have remembered those :grinning::grinning:


#19

I’ve just been informed that someone tried the caesium reaction in a toilet at York University a few years ago. The damage rendered most of the block unusable.


#20

Which block? Or wasn’t it named…


#21

Don’t look at me, nuffink ta do wiv me guv :innocent:


#22

I can ask - my source was doing her PhD there at the time*, so pretty much a first-hand report.




*Not, I hasten to add, in chemistry, nor in any subject that would allow her access to such material. (Unless it could be classed as “performance art”? Even then, I’d imagine the requisition would come under some considerable scrutiny)


#23

I made TNT with a couple of friends at school

We were careful and used the chemicals in the chemistry lab at school

Well mix bored A level chemistry students and a library with recipe books and a well stocked lab with little supervision and you will get enquiring minds doing their own research


#24

AIUI Today’s teachers aren’t even allowed to inflict capital punishment on the kids.

Issa disgrace. They’ve taken all the fun out of teaching.


#25

Just checked the exploding toilet story, and it turns out I was wrong. It was a fellow doctoral student who had related the tale and it had happened at one of her previous colleges—possibly Nottingham.

On which subject:
http://www.periodicvideos.com/index.htm