Common Chemicals that Misbehave
by KEN MURRAY
FOLLOWING textbook instructions in performing chemical experiments at home may be conducive to safety, but the real thrills of research come from those experiments which you work out for yourself.
Certain chemicals just do not get along well together, and can misbehave in a manner which may cause acute embarrassmentâ€”and pain. To avoid accidents, keep the following list of chemical tricksters in mind whenever you venture into free-lance experimenting. IODINE mixed with ammonia water forms a brown sludge at the bottom of a test tube. This is nitrogen iodide; when a piece the size of a pin head is dried on paper, it will explode with a very loud bang at the slightest jar. Larger quantities explode of their own weight before becoming powerful enough to do damage. Never add volatile oils to crystals of iodineâ€”they will fulminate, and explode.
Mystery Ray Is Revealed By Photos
By WILLIAM D. HARKINS University of Chicago
RAYS of a new type, called zeta rays, were discovered recently by Dr. R. W. Ryan and the writer. These rays have attracted much attention, presumably because they were first found by photographing them, or, more strictly speaking, by photographing the tracks they produce when they shoot through air. They are not light rays, but are electrons, or charges of negative electricity, thrown out by an atom.
All owners of radio outfits are familiar with the use of electrons shot out from a hot wire, since it is the stream of these particles of matter which is made to do various “stunts” in the different types of vacuum tubes. Such a stream of electrons is also shot out from the hot wire in every electric lamp, and may be collected on a metal plate if it is inserted inside the bulb.
UPDATE: As reader carmarks points out in the comments below, these experiments can be extremely dangerous and you should not actually try to perform any of them. Hydrofluoric Acid can kill you so, be warned.
Thrilling Stunts with a Glass-Eating Chemical
Etching your laboratory glassware is only one of the many possibilities offered by compounds of the active element fluorine
By RAYMOND B. WAILES
NOT long ago, a noted chemist told of a solvent powerful enough to dissolve nearly every known material. If the water on the earth were replaced with a liquid called selenium oxychloride, he said, we should have to carry umbrellas made of glass, platinum, or tungsten whenever it rained, for those are about the only substances that the fluid does not attack. There is a more familiar chemical, however, so corrosive that it could even eat its way through a glass umbrella. Its name is hydrofluoric acid, and it is one of the interesting compounds of the highly active element fluorine with which you will enjoy experimenting in your home laboratory.
FIFTY YEARS OF Aluminum
The Strange Story OF THE Magic Metal
By Edwin Teale
JUST half a century ago, the commonest metal in the earth’s crust was as scarce as silver. Prof. Frank F. Jewett, of Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, was pointing out this curious paradox to his chemistry class in the spring of 1883.
“If any of you can extract aluminum in commercial quantities,” he concluded with a smile, “you are sure of a fortune.” A slender student in one of the front rows nudged his neighbor. “I’m going after that metal!” he whispered.
That was the beginning of one of the most dramatic achievements in chemical research. The student was Charles Martin Hall. Hardly three years later, in a wood-shed workshop, using makeshift apparatus and homemade batteries, he achieved the goal which the greatest scientists in the world had failed to attain. On February 23, 1886, Hall rushed into Jewett’s laboratory with a few small buttons of silvery metal in his hand.
Fun with Explosive Gases
Hydrocarbons Are a Subject for Many Spectacular Experiments in the Amateur’s Chemical Laboratory
By RAYMOND B. WAILES
WOULD you like to get gas from coal without heating the coal? To make an inflammable gas that will dissolve in certain liquids as easily as sugar does in coffee ? To produce a gas that burns with a flame you can hardly perceive? Or to create fiery bubbles of gas, jumping about like grasshoppers, from simple everyday chemicals? These are some of the curious and interesting experiments with hydrocarbon gases that any amateur chemist can easily perform.
Hydrocarbon gases are compounds of carbon and hydrogen. A large proportion of all natural gases, including methane, ethane, propane, and butane, belong to this group. Manufactured illuminating gasâ€”both coal gas and water gasâ€”contains hydrocarbon gases, together with non-hydrocarbons such as hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen.
More about the Bevatron.
Can Huge New Atom Guns Shoot Out Biggest Secrets?
Gigantic ring-shaped machines, with 10-billion-electron-volt wallop, may transform energy into matter.
By Alden P. Armagnac
Drawings by Ray Pioch
SUPPOSE that a bullet could be fired 150,-000 miles, six times the distance around the world. Suppose that it could be given a shove to speed it up every 150 yards. Suppose, too, that it could be so aimed and guided throughout this long, fast flight that it would hit a target no bigger than a mans hat. Now suppose, furthermore, that this bullet were something that no one had ever seen or ever could see.
The experimental physicists have quit supposing such things can be done. They know they can perform the very feat that you have just been asked to imagine. They are as sure of it as you are that two and two make four. They have the blueprints for guns that will impart such tremendous energy to such particlesâ€”and they expect to have at least one of the mammoth machines operating in about three years.
Surprising Tests WITH Household AMMONIA
Simple Experiments and Home-made Apparatus Extend Your Knowledge and Speed the Work You Can Accomplish in Your Own Laboratory
by Raymond B. Wailes
IT IS surprising what the amateur chemist can do with a fifteen-cent bottle of ordinary household ammonia.
Being a mixture of ammonia dissolved in water, this pungent-smelling liquid offers an ever-ready supply of ammonia gas for the home laboratory. Even at room temperature, the gas is released from the liquid. By heating it, the experimenter can obtain the gas in larger quantities.
Strictly speaking, household ammonia is not ammonia at all, but ammonia water or ammonium hydroxide. Although ammonia can be liquefied, it is a colorless gas at normal temperatures. The fact that it dissolves readily in water makes the manufacture of ammonia water possible.
Do you Weigh More in Denver or New York?
by JAY EARLE MILLER
Maybe you think you weigh the same in Denver as you do in New York, but that’s because you don’t know your Einstein or your relativity. You really weigh more in New York, Why? Read this article and find outâ€”we defy you to begin Mr. Miller’s story and lay it down without finishing it.
A FEW weeks ago a British Air Force cup racing plane, piloted by Lieut. G. H. Stainforth, took off from the waters of the Solent, that protected arm of the sea lying inside the Isle of Wight, and flashed eastward over a measured course at more than 415 miles an hourâ€”just under 7 miles a minute.
The trim little racer weighed something more than two tons just before the start. Roaring down the eastward course all out, she weighed something less than that. Coming back, westbound, she weighed a bit more than before she took off.
Home Tests show Strange Nature of Chlorine
How to Make Metals Flame and Why Red Flowers Turn White is Explained Here
By RAYMOND B. WAILES
UNTIL you experiment with chlorine, you have missed some of the biggest thrills your home laboratory can give you. Among other things, you can make metals burst mysteriously into flame, remove the color from dyed cloth, and turn a red flower or a scrap of red paper white.
Chlorine, a heavy greenish-yellow gas, is exceedingly active. Few substances can remain uncombined in its presence. Even silver and gold yield to its action under certain conditions. With many elements, it combines with such suddenness and violence that intense heat and a brilliant flash of light accompany the reaction.
Wanted: Science Talent
Scholarships await promising students who hurdle series of brain-busting tests.
By David O. Woodbury
MARINA PRAJMOVSKY came to this country from Finland when she was four. Her father was a Russian-born machinist, her mother a seamstress. While in high school at Farmingdale, N. Y., in 1942 she entered the first Science Talent Search, a competition held by the Science Clubs of America. Out of some 15,000 entrants Marina tied for first place.
The Search’s $2,400 scholarship got her started at Radcliffe. She graduated as the only sum ma cum laude in biology in the history of the college. In four years more she had a medical doctorate from Yale and now at 27 is doing research on eye diseases at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Along the way she did highly secret work for the Navy and carried out outstanding research on DDT.