Author Topic: How times have changed...  (Read 4443 times)

Offline grahams

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2020, 03:42:40 pm »
In the old covered market in Bradford in the 60s you could buy 2 oz tubs of various nitrates including barium, strontium and potassium along with many other compounds. The stall had hundreds of these tubs which were appropriately colour coded with a bit of info about each compound.

Our local chemist used to sell nitric and sulphuric acids in 'bring your own' bottles and would reluctantly provide potassium nitrate 'safely' wrapped in a paper bag. When the supply of potassium nitrate ran out we discovered that reacting nitric acid with cream of tartar (potassium tartrate) would yield instant gunpowder when carefully dried. The pharmacist used to wonder why we were always buying iodine crystals and ammonia solution - obviously he hadn't read a Boys Own annual.

These days Amazon sells tree stump remover and flash cotton so all is not lost - if you're into that sort of thing.
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Offline blackshiver

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2020, 05:44:36 pm »
I was happily making rocket propellants in the shed back in the early 1970's and got to the point where I needed concentrated acids which (as a 14 year old) the local chemist would not sell to me.

I used to help the chemistry teacher at school set up experiments over lunchtime, so I asked if it would be possible to............

After school that day I was called to his office and thought "here we go" the heads going to be there and its going to be painful.

I can see it in my minds eye even now. Opened the door, walked up to his big oak desk, sir takes his reading glasses off pushes a box full of sawdust towards me and there they were. Half a pint each of conc Nitric, Hydrochloric, Sulphuric and conc Ammonia all nicely fuming through the (loose) glass stoppers.

I did say thanks! and then put the box on the handlebars of my bike and cycled home (one handed) to the Little Green Shed at the bottom of the garden.

How times have changed.

Postcript, about a year later "Sir" also took me to see "somebody" to explain what I was doing in The Shed. I didn't know at the time but this was the head of R+D for ICI who immediately offered me a  job working for him as soon as I left school (I was sixteen).

I have a lifetime of well paid and interesting chemistry to thank "Sir" for and met him in a cafe a couple of years back - he also said "how times have changed".
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Offline pwhole

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2020, 06:08:18 pm »
I once accidentally dropped a one-quart bottle of formaldehyde out of my cheap rucksack in the local hippy healthfood store. The floor was simple rustic wooden floorboards and the bottle landed on the corner of the base and bounced - whereupon I caught it, and swiftly put it back in my rucksack before leaving rather quickly. I didn't go back for years.

Offline nickwilliams

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2020, 06:17:55 pm »
My mate and I made nitrogen tri-iodide when we should have been doing something else in an O-level chemistry class one day. We managed to drop some on the floor and got a mighty bollocking from the chemistry master when he trod on it. The effect of the bollocking was somewhat diminished by the same teacher admitting to one of our parents in a parents evening a couple of weeks later that he was actually quite impressed since he'd never been able to get it to go off whenever he had tried to make it.
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Offline Graigwen

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2020, 10:28:30 am »
You would probably be locked up for what we used to make in the late sixties. I remember making picric acid and the satisfying bang it made when mixed with lead oxide and struck with a hammer. ...

Dave

Picric acid! I am impressed. We made what we called guncotton (nitrocellulose), but as we did not have access to concentrated nitric acid the process was only partial and the product was of more use as a fast fuse than an explosive.

.

Offline Graigwen

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #30 on: January 18, 2020, 10:40:44 am »
....

Got as far as a home made ammonium nitrate - nitro mix, but the home made dets from shotgun primers would not make it go off.



It is not long since commercial ammonium nitrate was freely and cheaply available. I suppose it would be easy to make ANFO by dissolving it in fuel oil to make a handy liquid explosive, widely used in the mining industry as a pattern of holes can be filled from a tanker. The problem controlling the availability of ammonium nitrate is that it is so useful as a fertiliser, with nitrogen available in two forms.

"Packed it in at that point and found a fresh interest. I had found a more exciting discovery, - girls."  Yes girls are an antidote to many interesting activities!

Offline cavemanmike

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #31 on: January 18, 2020, 06:46:30 pm »
Quote from: Graigwen link=topic

[/quote
Yes girls are an antidote to many interesting activities!

But just as explosive

Offline Robert Scott

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #32 on: January 18, 2020, 06:56:26 pm »
In the old covered market in Bradford in the 60s you could buy 2 oz tubs of various nitrates including barium, strontium and potassium along with many other compounds. The stall had hundreds of these tubs which were appropriately colour coded with a bit of info about each compound.

Our local chemist used to sell nitric and sulphuric acids in 'bring your own' bottles and would reluctantly provide potassium nitrate 'safely' wrapped in a paper bag. When the supply of potassium nitrate ran out we discovered that reacting nitric acid with cream of tartar (potassium tartrate) would yield instant gunpowder when carefully dried. The pharmacist used to wonder why we were always buying iodine crystals and ammonia solution - obviously he hadn't read a Boys Own annual.

These days Amazon sells tree stump remover and flash cotton so all is not lost - if you're into that sort of thing.
Obviously, the regulations in Bradford were somewhat lax in the ‘60s. I lived in Heaton then. One day Ashwell Road was swarming with police plus an army truck. We were told that a lad from school but a year or two above us, Stephen Mason, had made some TNT. Whatever it was, it was taken to the allotments behind his home to be detonated by the Bomb Disposal men.
A big bang was heard.
Not sure how the allotment people with greenhouses felt about that.

Offline Graigwen

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #33 on: January 18, 2020, 07:50:06 pm »
It is a surprise really that we have got so far into this thread without mentioning a certain well known author of books on Welsh metal mines (Roy knows who I mean) who blew up the  boys urinals at his school with carbide. When in 1969 he blew himself up at, I think, Hafan Mine, he was charged with some explosive offense. The great and good of the university town where he attended school came out in droves as defence witnesses. Academics, clergymen, senior council officers and others all attested to his spirit of scientific enquiry and good intentions. He escaped custody and in the light of his subsequent career their evidence was well justified.

Offline andybrooks

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #34 on: January 18, 2020, 10:37:53 pm »
In school, those with an interest in chemistry were encouraged to pursue projects.  While I chose fluorescein and rhodamine, someone I know very well decided to make TNT.  Some years later, his product was still in the lab, under lock and key.

Offline Scrufflepeck

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #35 on: January 19, 2020, 09:19:31 am »
Sodium chlorate and sugar. When a teenager I used it to make bombs with empty aerosols and blast lead balls deep into logs.

Offline Ian Ball

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #36 on: January 19, 2020, 10:52:24 am »
I was always a little wary of the radiation warning signs on the physics lab store room door.  Although there were many serious things in there, apparently a rock from a beach in Cornwall was the most radioactive.

Offline Roger W

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #37 on: January 19, 2020, 04:57:42 pm »
I was always a little wary of the radiation warning signs on the physics lab store room door.  Although there were many serious things in there, apparently a rock from a beach in Cornwall was the most radioactive.

Did you have a luminous dial on your  wristwatch?  My old Rotary was the most radioactive thing we could find in the lab when we were doing radioactivity experiments at uni.
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Offline Wren

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #38 on: January 19, 2020, 06:08:26 pm »
Too many years ago, my mate and I used to help out in the school labs.  As such, we were asked to provide a flash and bang for the school production of Hansel and Gretal.  This we duly did and everthing worked fine until the last night.  Having a considerable excess of flash powder we thought that a bit extra would provide a suitable finale. Too good! We set the stage curtains on fire!  A good time was had by all?

Offline kay

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #39 on: January 19, 2020, 09:30:21 pm »
My mind is boggling. I used my chemistry kit to explore all the lovely colour changes. I had no idea all the boys were using theirs as a jumping off point for making explosives, Am I odd or is this a differences between the sexes?

Offline Pegasus

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #40 on: January 19, 2020, 09:53:32 pm »
My mind is boggling. I used my chemistry kit to explore all the lovely colour changes. I had no idea all the boys were using theirs as a jumping off point for making explosives, Am I odd or is this a differences between the sexes?

I used mine to make invisible ink which I sold at school, never crossed my mind to make anything that might explode  :o

Offline JasonC

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #41 on: January 19, 2020, 11:12:56 pm »
My mind is boggling. I used my chemistry kit to explore all the lovely colour changes. I had no idea all the boys were using theirs as a jumping off point for making explosives, Am I odd or is this a differences between the sexes?

Kay, I think you've put your finger on key sexual differentiator that has so far eluded neuroscientists - modern notions of gender fluidity notwithstanding - boys want to make a noise, girls want to control the decor!   :lol:

Offline grahams

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #42 on: January 20, 2020, 08:55:34 am »
We weren't always blowing things up. We used to get on the train in Nelson for the 15 min ride to Skipton. Can't do that now as they stupidly chopped an 11 mile stretch out of one of the main rail routes across the Pennines. The big attraction was the diving boards in Skipton baths, now removed because somebody somewhere did a belly flop and got a sore chest. Then it was off to Waterfall's bookshop to spend half an hour reading the Craven Pothole Club's Records (the Bumper Annuals of New Cave Explorations). Waterfall's is now a cluttered and unpleasant WH Smiths. A cup of tea at the railway station and a read of their great selection of smutty pulp fiction rounded the day off nicely.
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Offline Mike Hopley

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #43 on: January 20, 2020, 10:34:41 am »
Kay, I think you've put your finger on key sexual differentiator that has so far eluded neuroscientists - modern notions of gender fluidity notwithstanding - boys want to make a noise, girls want to control the decor!

I feel excluded by your post. :chair:

I want to make an enormous bang, but I also want it to be pink and sparkly.

Offline grahams

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #44 on: January 20, 2020, 11:29:05 am »
Kay, I think you've put your finger on key sexual differentiator that has so far eluded neuroscientists - modern notions of gender fluidity notwithstanding - boys want to make a noise, girls want to control the decor!

I feel excluded by your post. :chair:

I want to make an enormous bang, but I also want it to be pink and sparkly.

Add some strontium nitrate and a bit of magnesium powder to the mix - should do the trick.
Sceptics wanted!

Offline tony from suffolk

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #45 on: January 20, 2020, 01:49:05 pm »
My mind is boggling. I used my chemistry kit to explore all the lovely colour changes. I had no idea all the boys were using theirs as a jumping off point for making explosives, Am I odd or is this a differences between the sexes?
A key difference - when a female says “Here, sniff this!” You know it's going to smell nice.
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Offline kay

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #46 on: January 20, 2020, 04:15:58 pm »

I want to make an enormous bang, but I also want it to be pink and sparkly.

Please don't get me started. It's bad enough when tool manufacturers think the way to expand into a female market is to paint the handles pink. No, we'd just like tools that balance well in the normally smaller female hand. We don't care what colour it is (unless it's for outdoor use in which case we'd like it to show up well against grass/dead leaves).

Quote
unless she's teaching you to recognise hedge woundwort ....

Offline aricooperdavis

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #47 on: January 20, 2020, 04:43:18 pm »
I never had a proper chemistry set, but I do remember electroplating a penny with zinc then putting it in a burner flame and turning it gold. I saw the same demonstration at a school open day recently and it's still a firm favourite - the transformation as the metal alloys to brass is like some alchemical magic, super satisfying, and you can take away the "gold" coin you've made  :thumbsup:

Offline royfellows

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #48 on: January 20, 2020, 04:52:28 pm »
You have just restored my faith in modern education!
 :lol:
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Offline Jenny P

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Re: How times have changed...
« Reply #49 on: January 20, 2020, 07:10:08 pm »

Please don't get me started. It's bad enough when tool manufacturers think the way to expand into a female market is to paint the handles pink. No, we'd just like tools that balance well in the normally smaller female hand. We don't care what colour it is (unless it's for outdoor use in which case we'd like it to show up well against grass/dead leaves).

YES !!!

 

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