arrow3 Comments
  1. Chemjobber
    Jun 02 - 6:50 pm

    First summer working in a real working lab. Having great fun playing with liquid nitrogen. Took some LN2 and froze some coffee with it. Licked the coffee.

    Postdoc who was observing this fun then noted that the LN2 and its container had been freezing biological samples all day/week/month/year and was probably contaminated with various virii and other creepy-crawlies.

    Spent the rest of the day and evening spitting as much as possible.

  2. Christine Herman
    Jun 03 - 9:21 pm

    lol @Chemjobber.

    I’ve made so many lab blunders, but I seem to block them out of my memory so it’s taking me some time to recall even one of them…

    Okay, here’s the worst one: As an undergrad, I was recrystallizing a diastereomer and was several steps in on a large-scale synthesis. I took several grams the dry crystals and placed them in a roundbottom, then placed the flask into a heating mantle. I cranked up the heat and turned around to grab the solvent to dissolve the crystals, but then I got distracted (as I often do) and started working on something else, like checking a TLC. A few minutes pass and I turn around and my gorgeous white crystals were smoking and looked like black tar! I was so humiliated, but my undergrad research adviser was so nice, he said, “Those heating mantles, they’re so bad they’ll do that.” It cost me about a week of work. Lesson learned: don’t turn on the heating mantle until you’ve got your solvent in!

    Thanks, Sidechain Bob, for reminding me of why I am no longer an organic chemist! (For the record, I’m a chemical biologist, the non-organic kind).

  3. Laura
    Jun 04 - 12:53 am

    Ha! And, Chemjobber, somehow even explanations of this can’t help me convince that borrowing a random LN2 ewer from various departments for a party in which things are frozen and consumed is a Bad Idea.

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