Spring Break musings – chemistry in the old days

Hello all! Sorry for the sparse updates over the past week and half or so.  It's been spring break in college land, and for undergrads that means vacation.  I'm currently in the West Palm Beach airport in sunny FL, about to head back to the snow-and-windswept plains of the northeast (where I call my home).  While here, I had the pleasure of visiting with my girlfriend and grandparents and being treated to far too many gigantic meals.  Today at lunch I was eating with my grandmother and her friend, and learned that she was once a high-school chemistry teacher.  She told me all sorts of stories (including one of her in graduate school, when she mouth-pipetted snake venom!), and one of my favorites is below.  Feel free to share your favorites! Once upon a time, in Illinois, my friend was taking her class (from Minn.) to a science fair.  They were working on irradiated chickens, and kept them and the irradiated eggs in the trunk of the car.  Of course, in order to keep the specimens alive, they needed to open the trunk every once and a while to give the poor guys some air.  In a small town in Illinois, the chickens got loose and my poor friend had to chase these irradiated (maybe radioactive?) chickens through the streets. Why does this story speak to me?  Well, first, I find it absolutely hilarious - a scientist chasing her specimens through the streets of a small town just would not happen.  (Also, does anybody use chickens as a model system anymore)?  Second, we don't even have what were called "Becquerel Chemicals" in high schools anymore, much less do radiation experiments on chickens.  It's just a different day today.  Well anyway, in honor of Friday, spring break, and the good old times, feel free to share your favorite old time chemistry story in the space below - thanks! -Sidechain

Author: Sidechain Bob

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