serious

Another strange work mail.

There was an incident in a lab yesterday where a bottle of media with a
rubber insert in the bottle top was microwaved. The rubber insert went on
fire producing a great deal of smoke.

Someone got off lightly. Usually when I hear of someone microwaving a stoppered vessel of water and agar powder the story ends with the bottle exploding and blowing the micrwave oven's door across the room.

I'm told more scientists die ever year in work incidents than firefighters. Part of that's that there are more scientists, but still.

"Evans boldly put 50 atm. of Ethylene in a cell with 25 atm. of oxygen.
The apparatus subsequently blew up, but luckily not before he obtained
the spectra showin in figure 8."
A.J. Merer and R.S. Mulliken Chem. Rev. 69, 645 (1969)
Is Evans not listed as an author because he was too junior, or because he was too deceased?
I'm sure you can still be an author posthumously so I am fond of imagining he was their RA.
And do you reckon that he was still their RA after pulling that stunt?

What would he have been trying to do with that mix, anyway? Make an epoxide? It's an odd ratio.
Chemistry is one of the areas of science where my ignorance is at the surface level so I don't actually know what ethylene really is in the first place, I just rather like the quote.
2 carbons with a double-bond between them, each with 2 hydrogens. C2H4.

Ethyl epoxide has the double bond replaced by a triangle between the two carbons and an oxygen - ie one half of the double-bond has been replaced by a bridging oxygen atom. Quite unstable - it has been used both as a fumigant and as a component of fuel-air explosive.
Hmm... sounds like the kind of thing I should on no account be allowed to have.
A fumigant and a fuel-air explosive -- makes me think of what would happen if Rammstein were the presenters of "How Clean is Your House?"
You sure the existing one couldn't be fixed with a suitable fumigant?
Is that the stuff the they pump out of those fancy fountains to make a flame as the gas escapes? I've always wanted some of that....
Once in a chemistry practical on distillation I nearly set alight to the lab ceiling caused by a Bunsen set too high (Oops), dodgy apparatus and a chemistry lecturer who liked us to experiment with really flammable things! He also allowed us to "play" with mercury, which kind of explains a few things :) Thankfully these days I just hide behind a computer and play with protein signatures.
Yes. At school for a project I got to play with an aerosol can of [quick search] ninhydrin. A few weeks later someone thought to tell me that it's quite toxic and make sure I was using a fume cupboard. Of course, as I hadn't been told . . .
I am almost ashamed to say that was my first thought too. I may have been spending too much time in labs with students.
a scientist recently quoted a piece of research on stress in different professions to me, and claims that research scientists come very near the top. i wonder if thats true..
It's the chemists that are the worst by far
Having been a lab technician in a sixth form college, I've caused myself all sorts of injuries including nearly gassing myself with chlorine and discovering the bits of solid potassium left in the bottom of the tubes by attempting to wash them up. To borrow what already looks like it's going to be a useful phrase, the remaining fragments were spotless.

Generally I have not caused nor suffered nearly as much damage as there would have been had I not censored over-enthusiastic chemistry teachers, though. Just how big a vessel can we use to collect the hydrogen and oxygen mixture from electrolysing water?
Re: It's the chemists that are the worst by far
The dramatic accidents were half the fun. Mostly people weren't hurt.

Discovering the presence of alkali metals the hard way seems to be a very common mistake, and one that's sometimes done on a positively industrial scale. Have a look at the fourth paragraph on this page - the one that starts "The 220 feet (75 meter) deep shaft".