June 22, 2018

Solomon the Unwise

See, it's funny because when King Solomon is known for his decision when two women came to him both claiming to be the mother of the same baby. Solomon suggested that the baby be cut in half with each woman getting half the baby. One mother thought this a fair decision, and the other woman begged for the child not to be cut in half. She was willing to relinquish her claim rather than let the baby die. Solomon then announced that the woman relinquishing her claim must be the real mother because she cared more for the baby's life than for her claim.

In the case of the comic, the two women both claim that be the owners of the atom. King Solomon apparently proposed the splitting of the atom.

Nuclear fission - splitting the atom - releases a massive amount of energy, hence the mushroom cloud.

Source - C-section comics

And there's a bonus panel...

May 11, 2018

Morbid Monday: The Man Who Dissolved His Wife

Breaking Bad might've used hydrofluoric acid to dispose of a human body, but in reality, bases are much more effective.

Take, for example, the story of Adolph Luetgert, a Chicago sausage maker who grew tired of his wife and eventually 'dissolved' her in a vat of potash (a mixture of potassium hydroxide and potassium carbonate).
During a search of Luetgert’s factory on May 15th, a watchman suggested they look in a steam vat in the cellar that was used to dip sausages. The police looked inside, and found that the vat was filled halfway with a putrid-smelling, reddish-brown liquid. When the police pulled a plug near the bottom of the vat, on the outside, the slimy liquid and small pieces of bone fell out. Inside the cauldron, police found a gold ring with L.L. engraved on the inside. Near the vat, investigators discovered a strand of hair, pieces of clothing, and half of a false tooth.
Luetgert is one of many folks who have used acids and bases to dispose of human bodies. In fact, it seems that a process called alkaline hydrolysis is being used in some mortuaries in the US now.

May 5, 2018

How to Make Rainbow Fire

Do NOT use methanol for demonstrations involving fire.

Seriously, no debate, no maybe, no 'ifs'.

Just don't use methanol at all.

And Heet absolutely is methanol. Their SDS says so. (Interestingly, it actually says it's 100% methanol; between 0.0006-0.0012% some second, proprietary ingredient; and between 0.0001996-0.0003996% some third, also proprietary ingredient.)

Some safety notes from that SDS...

  • Highly flammable liquid and vapor - H225
  • Keep away from heat, sparks, open flames, and/or hot surfaces. - No smoking. P210
  • Ground and/or bond container and receiving equipment. - P240
  • Use explosion-proof electrical/ventilating/lighting/equipment. - P241
  • Use only non-sparking tools. - P242
  • Take precautionary measures against static discharge. - P243
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke when using this product. - P270
  • Use only outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. - P271
  • Container may explode when heated.
  • Vapor explosion hazard indoors, outdoors or in sewers.
  • HIGHLY FLAMMABLE: Will be easily ignited by heat, sparks or flames.
  • Most vapors are heavier than air. They will spread along ground and collect in confined areas (sewers, basements, tanks).
  • Vapors may form explosive mixtures with air.
  • Vapors may travel to source of ignition and flash back.
  • Structural firefighters' protective clothing will only provide limited protection.
  • Move containers from fire area if you can do it without risk.
  • LARGE FIRES: Cool containers with flooding quantities of water until well after fire is out.
Seriously, just last week I was at the National Science Teachers Association's national conference in Atlanta listening to a presentation about lab safety. One of the opening statements was that we all know not to do the rainbow demonstration but that there's more to lab safety.

It was just an assumed, opening bit of knowledge that we should've ever do the rainbow demonstration with methanol. There wasn't any explanation given because it should be that obvious. There wasn't even an explanation of what the rainbow demonstration was because it's apparently chemistry teacher res ipsa loquitur knowledge.

April 22, 2018

Periodic graphics: Water-repelling chemistry

I dig the work of Andy Brunning and am curious whether he's still a chemistry teacher of if he's moved fulltime into the chemistry infographic world.

April 6, 2018

A mole of moles

Only someone as twisted and intelligent and educated as Randal Munroe would be able to answer the question, "What would happen if you were to gather a mole (unit of measurement) of moles (the small furry critter) in one place?" and to then take the answer to a place where we get a sentence like this, "Plumes of hot meat and bubbles of trapped gases like methane—along with the air from the lungs of the deceased moles—periodically rise through the mole crust and erupt volcanically from the surface, a geyser of death blasting mole bodies free of the planet."

I love Randal Munroe.

March 29, 2018

Modified sponge mops up oil but not water

"Due to the nature of the industry, cost-effective high absorbents are needed...Any advancement to have high spill sorbent is of use." ~ Seshadri Ramkumar

See, what he's saying is that the oil industry (and the shipping industry and pretty much everybody else) spills oil in the ocean...and lakes...and rivers...and fields...so we need to be ready to soak up the oil.

The environmental impact and morals of our modern dependence on fossil fuels aside, the chemistry here is pretty cool.

Though the name of 'compound 1' seems a little odd to me because I can't imagine that the first compound they tried was their successful attempt. There's a reason why we have Formula 409.

Either way, 'compound 1' attracts to nonpolar solvents like oils but has little to no attraction to polar solvents (like water).