Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chemistry Gift List

I know that everyone wants to keep-up with their chemistry studies over the holidays, and just in time the Make Blog site has a list of chemistry supplies for your Christmas list. The have descriptions of chemistry sets, as well as other chemistry-related things.

They include several chemistry sets, books about home chemistry experiments and suppliers for glassware. I had a Skilcraft chemistry set as a kid, but I don't remember much about it except that if you mixed certain chemicals together they would change colors. It is said that chemistry kits used to be much more interesting before all of the dangerous chemicals were removed. For an idea of what a do-it-yourself chemist could do in the Old Days, read Uncle Tungsten by Oliver Sacks.  

I really got a kick out of seeing The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments, published in the 1960's. It's a collector's item now, but you can follow a link to download a pdf of the original book for free. Be aware, the file is 28 mb. There's a lot of good stuff there that would be familiar to any chemistry student. I'm not sure I would recommend making chlorine gas at home, but a lot of the experiments look like fun. You have to bear in mind how times have changed when reading this book - the list of where to buy supplies in the back of the book is pretty entertaining. I don't think I have ever seen carbon tetrachloride or manganese dioxide at a hardware store, or potassium permanganate at the drug store.

Also be sure to check out the youtube video of chemicals at a party, it's at the bottom of the page.

MAKE: Blog: The Chemistry gift guide - Celebrating chemistry and inspiring the next generation of chemists!


Belle said...

Is it the same kind of clorine gas used in the WW1 trenches? Cripes, isn't is amazing the weapons available online???

Steve W said...

Hey Belle,
Yes, it's the same chlorine gas. In fact the chapter on chlorine is titled "Chlorine-Friend or Foe" and mentions its use in WWI. Just don't mix bleach with other cleaning products - you may get a pungent surprise.

Of course, chlorine has beneficial uses too - most of the drinking water in the US is disinfected with chlorine bleach.