Newscripts’ Favorite Chemistry Things

Like our compatriots over at The Haystack, we, too, are answering Chemjobber’s call for our favorite chemistry things:

1. Raindrops on roses, of course.
2. Wowing nonscientists with the Diet Coke/Mentos trick at parties.
3. @Azmanam, we never get tired of playing with liquid nitrogen either.
4. Getting a yield above 90%, repeatedly.
5. Pulling TLC spotters from pipettes.
6. The whoosh of the NMR tube cleaner.
7. Tiny volumetric flasks (1 mL)—they’re so adorable, like puppies.
8. Using downtime in the lab to ward off evil spirits (example: burning one’s Johnny Damon T-shirt in acid after the traitor joined the Yankees and broke our hearts).
9. The first fog of condensation on a rotavap’s coiled condenser.
10. The gazillion ways one can present the periodic table, from Theodore Gray’s mastery to video fun to baked goods deliciousness.

And a bonus, with video:

11. Popping different colored balloons with laser pointers (or lasers) of complementary colors.

Tag, you’re it!

Author: Rachel Pepling

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  1. “burning one’s Johnny Damon T-shirt in acid after the traitor joined the Yankees and broke our hearts”

    Excellent. Combining sports and chemistry is A++.

  2. …oooooh. Gotta say I think pulling TLC spotters is one of my least favorite tasks – right up there with cutting TLC plates. We got a shipment of uniform microcapillary tubes, and I guard those things with my life. If one of them breaks, I weep a bit inside.

    I posted this story in our comments, too, but I have an awesome liquid nitrogen story.

    We did a magic show for middle school kids a while back, and naturally we had the liquid nitrogen station. We’d freeze flowers and smash them. We’d freeze racquetballs and smash them (they’re really loud). We’d freeze balloons and watch them re-inflate.

    Then at the end, after showing them how cold it was, I’d ask them if they really thought it was very cold. Then I’d stick my finger in it (which of course gave them scared looks). But I’d say it wasn’t so bad, and I’d leave my finger in there a while. During which time, we recapped how we could freeze things then smash them. So I asked them if they thought my finger would freeze enough to be smashed… Then I took the hammer, pulled out my finger, and BEAT THE SNOT OUT OF MY FINGER WITH THE HAMMER!!1!eleven

    Then I would tell them that, it’s ok, I had a hot dog in the finger of my glove the whole time and that my finger was safe all along.

    The best part was, not everyone on the magic show team knew before hand, and their looks were more priceless than the kids’ looks 🙂

  3. @Chemjobber–Thanks for the A++! I’m a perfectionist, so I always strive for those high marks. And that’s a true story. My lab at Boston University overlooked Fenway. The first day of the new season, I walked down there, bought a new shirt, had a Fenway frank, and went back to lab to check on the degradation process. I made sure the word “Damon” was completely obliterated.

    @Azmanam–You actually just gave me a heart attack, too, before I read the bottom of your story. I can imagine your teammates’ reactions. Priceless.