Tag Archives: chemistry

2218. The chemist

Have you heard of the communist tyrant responsible for millions of deaths?  He was a chemist and at some stage, after lurking anonymously in the background of power, was able to poison three quarters of the population. No one knew who he was but it was believed that the person was still alive and perhaps living in luxury.

Which brings me to a simpler scene: an ordinary chemistry class at school. Young Harry has asked his chemistry teacher a simple question. Ms Braxton was a tyrannical chemistry teacher. She was to be feared. Not one of her pupils learnt Chemistry out of love; they learnt it out of fear. Ms Braxton had been teaching Chemistry for so long that several generations had passed through the school despising Chemistry. Rumour had it that she knew who the tyrannical communist chemist was; perhaps even she had taught the murderous persecutor.

Young Harry’s question was simply this: Why does bread go brown when it is toasted? Ms Braxton had explained that the starch under heat reflected light to the right (“dextra” was the Latin word for “right” so the brown bit was called dextrin). That made the toast look brown. It’s why the crust on a loaf of bread is brown.

Ms Braxton certainly knew her stuff. She was very learned. She lived alone in a very big house and drove a very expensive car. The question young Harry (and most of the impressionable teenagers in the class) really wanted to ask was “How come you’re so rich?” In fact, he did ask her. She got very angry and told him to mind his own business. Her reaction was certainly proof of something don’t you think?

1397. Class preparation

Robert Maguire was a fairly new and enthusiast high school teacher of Chemistry. In fact, he was about to begin his second year of teaching. During the long summer break he went several times to the school’s chemistry laboratory to prepare his classes for the coming year.

The last time he went, the plumber turned up.

“I’m here to check for dripping faucets,” said the plumber. “Thank goodness you’re here. Mr Gaynor, the Head of the Chemistry Department, gave me a key to the classroom but I was worried how I would get my van through the locked school gate.”

Robert Maguire was about to leave so he asked the plumber to make sure he locked the chemistry laboratory when he left, and to also firmly lock the school’s front gate.

“There have been a lot of burglaries in the area over the summer,” said Robert Maguire.

1050. Natural stubbornality

That’s the trouble with Bertrand; he’s so pig-headed. He might be only eight years old, but he’s as stubborn as an ox. I am almost embarrassed to admit that I gave birth to such a creature. Sometimes I suspect he’s a little backward when it comes to the brains department. Here he comes now.

“Did you clean the stain off the laundry floor as I asked?”

“Yes, but it didn’t work very well. I used mainly water, with 5% tetrasodium ethylenediaminetetraacetate, 6% disodium oxosilanediolate, and 2% alkyl(C8-10) polyethoxypolypropoxybenzene ether. I thought that would work.”

“You naughty, naughty boy. I told you to use 5% boric acid, 5.3% nonylphenol polyethylene glycol ether, 14% dipropylene glycol monomethyl ether, and 1.6% tetrasodium ethylenediamine tetraacetate. No wonder the stain is still there. Go back and try again.”

See what I mean? Stubborn as an ox. He certainly doesn’t take after me, that’s for sure.

717. The back room

717backroom

Tania and Myles were seeing a fertility specialist. They had been together for over five years and hadn’t conceived a thing. They intensely desired a baby or two.

Myles was a secondary school teacher. He taught chemistry. Most of his teaching was done in the chemistry lab. At the end of the lab was a small back room. Myles used it as an office. He also stored most of the chemicals there. It was safer that way. It stopped naughty adolescent boys from trying to concoct Molotov cocktails and the like.

Tania worked as a hairdresser. She was one of a gang of six. Tania worked four days a week. It was on one of her days off that she went on her own to see the fertility specialist.
Her time was ripe. Exactly right. The egg should be fertilised now!

Myles was busy teaching the properties of Buckminsterfullerene (also known as buckyballs, which greatly amused a portion of the sixteen year olds in the class). He received a text message. Sample required NOW! He set the class work and went out to the back room “to make a phone call”.

A good try, but in the long run, he’d shot a blank.

Listen the story being read HERE!

417. No equal equation

417equation

In the old pre-computer days, Norris was late handing up his chemistry assignment. His professor at the university was rather short with him when he asked for an extension.

“I’m sorry, sir,” said Norris, “but I’ve been typing night after night, day after day and have barely finished page 1.”

“There’s no excuse for it,” said the professor. “Nola, the other one in the doctoral class, finished last week.”

“I know,” said Norris. “But her assignment was on Zinc oxide, whereas mine is on 2-Propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, 2-[[[[5-[[[2-[ethyl[(heptadecafluorooctyl)sulfonyl]amino]ethoxy]carbonyl]amino]-2-methylphenyl]amino]carbonyl]oxy]propyl ester, telomer with butyl 2-propenoate, 2-[[[[5-[[[2-[ethyl[(nonafluorobutyl)sulfonyl]amino]ethoxy]carbon.”

“Just use the formula,” said the professor. “No need to type everything out in full each time.”

“I have,” said Norris. “But C28H28F17N3O8S.C27H28F15N3O8S.C26H28F13N3O8S.C25H28F11N3O8S.C24 H28F9N3O8S.C14H10F17NO4S.C13H10F15NO4S.C12H10F13NO4S.C11H10F11NO4S.C10H10F9NO4S.C7H12O2)x.C8H18S occurs seventeen times on the first page.”