Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The things I do for the kids.

This afternoon I did a demo for one of my classes which involved heating up solid sulphur over a Bunsen burner until it started to burn in air, then immersed it into a pure oxygen environment to generate sulphur dioxide. Then, when you add a little water, the sulphur dioxide reacts with it to form sulphurous acid; if you add a little bromthymol blue it turns yellow, to show it is, in fact, an acid:

1. S(s) ----> S(L)

2. S(L) + O2 (g) ----> SO2 (g)

3. SO2 (g) + H2O(L) ----> H2SO3 (aq)

Have you ever smelled sulphur dioxide? ("Rotten egg" gas is hydrogen sulphide, H2S(g), which is close, but no cigar.) Sulphur dioxide stings and burns, and smells really quite awful. It gets in your nose and throat, and even if you use the fume hood (which I did) to take away as much of it as you can, it seems to linger for a while.

Long story short, it's after 10 p.m. and I can still smell/taste SO2.

I love/hate my job.


sparks said...

oh thats just dirty. Earlier this year I accidentally got a drop of ethyl vinyl ketone on my glove, and OMG IT REAKED!!! I was officially the smelly kid until I managed to throw the glove off far into the fumehood.

S.M. said...

Ahhh... that might explain why the officials at YYZ confiscated all the toiletries in my luggage - they were trying to prevent me from making H2SO3 (can't format that!).

Anyhow, it's great that you go the extra mile for your kids. I hated my Chem teacher so much that I skipped all her classes and passed with a grade 1 that was broken down into A,A,A,F. Good thing Labs were only worth 5% or else I would have failed O' Level Chem and I would have potentially been able to create noxious fumes using my Spot Treatment and Bug Lotion!

JTL said...

sparks: That's why I wasn't a chemist... too many things which smelled awful.

s.m.: Subscripts are easy in HTML, but Blogger doesn't allow them in these blog post replies. On your blog, all you have to do is bookend <sub> and </sub> around the things you want to make subscripted (e.g. <sub>2</sub> makes a subscript 2). But yeah... if you don't put yourself in harm's way a few times for your kids, you're probably not doing your job right.

Dan said...

The only chemical reaction that's worth a damn is:

K + H2O = Light, noise, and plumes of poisonous white smoke(which can be used for your stealthy getaway.)

Anonymous said...

just remember not to blow up and of the kids until you've received your paycheck in june!