Friday, May 4, 2007

The Conclusion of the Fire Trilogy (For Now)

I'm going to talk about fire one more time.

In high school, I got to make fire as part of the curriculum. I loved high school. Especially science class. There was one time during the chemistry exam where I nearly killed everyone, but that's another story for another time. (Maybe tomorrow?)

In Grade 10 Advanced Science, we had the coolest lab assignment ever. We had to set up a working system for fractional distillation of crude oil. One of the steps we had to complete was to fraction crude oil into gasoline. By distilling it, with heat from a Bunsen burner flame.

Let's be clear: Crude oil in liquid and gas form, gasoline and open natural gas flame. Thank you Mr. Watson, the Best Science Teacher Ever (Tm).

Apparently thousands of students have done the same experiment without incident. It used a closed tube system so the flammable materials were never exposed to oxygen or open flame. It was perfectly safe until I came along.

Mr. Watson checked my apparatus very carefully. Then, knowing me as he did, he checked it again. Everything was set. We lit our Bunsen burners and the fun began. From each table came sounds of excitement as gasoline began appearing in the condenser tube. Mine was filling up quickly. Everything went smoothly.

Until the stopper in my collection tube cracked.

Had I been sane, I would have immediately turned off my burner and grabbed the fire extinguisher. Instead I stood, watching gleefully as the gasoline leaked onto the outside of the tube. Mr. Watson must have seen the beatific expression on my face as the beads of gasoline dripped towards the open flame, because he was already moving with the fire extinguisher.

The apparatus lit up like the Fourth of July. I was so enthralled, I barely noticed him screaming at me to turn off the gas. The flames got into the tube and through the crack in the stopper, which popped off like a champagne cork. Oxygen got in.

A pillar of fire ascended from my table towards the heavens, my arms open wide, face beaming with joy at the holy offering I had made. Then Mr. Watson hit the fire extinguisher, ending my religious experience. He was furious. The class was furious. I thought they were going to lynch me.

Next Story: They Don't Call it the Chemistry "Final" For Nothing

Previous Story: Nothing's Wrong, I'm Just Watering The Patio


Ruby said...

Alright everyone. Keep your matches/lighters in your pockets well hidden. Now smile fatuously and back slowly away from Orgull.

Don't upset him or make him nervous in any way - he might have a flamethrower in his pocket.

Anonymous said...

Um, may I suggest you refrain from going near anything flammable? I mean, that's not exactly the kind of stuff you mess around and have fun with. It's SERIOUS STUFF, dude!

Milhouse said...

May the 4th be with you!

ps - umm, letmypeoplego.