Saturday, May 5, 2007

They Don't Call it the Chemistry "Final" for Nothing

Before I move on from the subject of high school (see yesterday's story) I want to tell you about the time I almost killed my entire class during the chemistry final exam.

The chemistry final involved actual lab experiments, set up at stations around the exam room. We had to complete experiments and then go back to our desks and write them up. Nice and simple. I finished the exam twenty minutes early but no matter how much I begged, Ms. Festing would not let me leave. I'm pretty sure she regretted that decision later.

I went looking for something to do. I found an empty beaker. I felt compelled to fill it. Under the guise of 'double-checking' my exam results, I went from station to station, collecting some of each chemical used in the experiments. The beaker began to fill up. Various chemicals went into it, whatever appealed to me. Eventually I had a large beaker full of powders and crystals. Red, white, yellow, blue, green, you name it, it was in there.

I stirred it all up until the mixture was evenly distributed. I waited. Nothing happened. I thought about it for a while and realized a catalyst would be needed. Fire would have been my first choice, but there was no way I could have turned on a Bunsen burner without drawing the attention of Ms. Festing. I was forced to go with my second choice.

Good old dihydrogen monoxide, a.k.a "water".

I went to the sink, pretending to be cleaning up and set my big beaker of chemicals under the tap. I didn't know what it was going to do, but I was confident it would do something. I filled the rest of the beaker with water and stirred it with my pen. The chemicals mixed and the magic began. I kept stirring vigorously for a few seconds until I noticed my pen felt somewhat lighter. The part of my pen that had been immersed in the mixture was gone. It had either melted off or been dissolved away.

Cool! (I took a few steps back just in case though.) The mixture started to darken. It rapidly turned black and then started expanding. A black cloud rose from the beaker. It smelled terrible. Then things went from bad to worse. I think what drew Ms. Festing was the sound of the beaker cracking. She burst into action. Exhaust fans were turned on, students were told to evacuate the room, it was great.

Finally the reaction stopped, leaving a cracked beaker covered inside and out with blackened goop. Ms. Festing came at me and demanded a list of everything I'd put in the beaker. We went from station to station. I explained while she jotted down notes. About halfway around the room she looked at the list and her face turned green and red at the same time.

"You idiot!" she shouted, "You have no idea what you just made, do you?" I shook my head.

"Try nerve gas." she said. "Really?" I asked, smiling.

I shouldn't have smiled.
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1 comment:

The Nightbreeze said...

"We'll have to take a pass on the stage-crashing bit; the 'Human Brown-out' here is a walking calamity..." -- Jason Mewes, Mallrats Written, Produced, and Directed by Kevin Smith