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Author: Subject: A Sciencemadness retrospective
Polverone
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[*] posted on 28-3-2004 at 16:07
A Sciencemadness retrospective


I joined the Explosives and Weapons Forum in the fall of 2001. There, my attention was caught by "madscientist," a user who seemed to enjoy chemistry for its own sake, and who was bubbling with enthusiasm, but who was also too mouthy for his own good and who I could tell would soon be banned. Fortunately, I obtained his e-mail address before he was banned and started communicating with him.

As much as I enjoyed the E&W Forum, I wanted a place to discuss chemistry where the discussion didn't have to be so goal-oriented toward making explosives. The Hive was a great place to visit, but it too was goal-oriented, with different goals. I discussed this with madscientist and we came to an agreement: we would create the place that we wanted to visit. I did not major or even minor in chemistry as an undergraduate, so my enthusiasm for the topic is untainted by any less-than-stellar instructional experiences or later employment in the field. Of course this means that my knowledge is also untainted by breadth, depth, and rigor; this is where I need the members of this site to keep me honest, expose errors I make, and contribute all the chemical lore that I never learned. I am merely the Benevolent Dictator, not the Biggest Smartypants. The Biggest Smartypants is probably Philou Zrealone, who sadly hasn't visited us for months.

In May 2002, I acquired webspace and a domain name, and launched the message board. Madscientist is member #1 because he read the setup directions for the board software before I did and logged in first, afterward creating my account for me. At first it was very slow going. Madscientist and I were pretty much "talking out loud" to each other, while a handful of people we'd known from the E&W Forum sometimes visited or contributed. Our original color scheme was a depressing shades-of-blue affair. For almost a year, the "edit" button for posts didn't work (even for admins). Membership and activity grew very slowly. I remember being excited the first time we started seeing a new post on the board almost every day.

In October 2002, a Finnish chemistry student named Petri Gerdt killed himself and seven other people, wounding more than 70, in a shopping mall near Helsinki with a homemade explosive device. He had been a regular user of the E&W Forum under the name "RC," and had apparently visited Sciencemadness on a regular basis, though he wasn't a member. The media attention brought a large traffic spike to this site, especially from Finland, though it didn't bring many new members.

RC/Petri was interested in the fabled explosive <A HREF="http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=179&page=1">diphoronepentaperoxide</A>, which was unearthed by Hoffmann-LaRoche (aka BASF?) from a German patent in September 2002, and which we still haven't finished discussing today!

In February 2003, I upgraded the board software from version 1.6 to 1.8 and simultaneously made a number of other changes. That's when we acquired the board logo (banner?) and our current color scheme. A number of security holes were fixed in the software, the admins got some slightly better tools, and the "edit" button started working again; hooray!

Madscientist found himself with less time for the board, and I was also growing busy and inattentive with Real Life Concerns, so in June 2003 longtime member and solid contributor Vulture was promoted to moderator (later made administrator so he would have additional useful powers). Vulture has sometimes been accused of having a heart of stone and the mercy of a snake in his dealings with unruly members, but I assure you that is completely backwards.

Prompted by remarks from Theoretic, the board was <A HREF="http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=1110">rearranged</a> in January 2004, converting Electrochemistry to Technochemistry, making new sections for beginning and organic chemistry, transforming Bioactive Materials to Biochemistry, and rearranging a large number of posts to sit in their new proper forums. Since none of the existing administrators were biochemically-savvy, Chemoleo was promoted to section moderator for Biochemistry, where he has done an admirable job.

A few days ago BromicAcid suggested that there should be some sort of commemorative post about the history of Sciencemadness since we were nearing 1000 members. Today we appear to have our 1000th real member, so I took the time to write this up. We've actually had 1028 members register since the beginning, but a few were deleted for misbehavior and more were deleted because they were automated signups done by a script trying to get higher search engine rankings for porn and gambling sites.

Sciencemadness has changed considerably since the beginning. Energetic Materials is no longer the most active section -- much to my delight -- and we seem to be getting more educated regulars who contribute here on a regular basis. It could just be my wishful thinking, but it seems we also get fewer simplistic drug-making questions nowadays. The hosting company I'm using has grown considerably larger and less customer-service-oriented in the last couple of years, so I certainly hope that I will be able to successfully renew hosting and the domain name for another year. I'd like to know that there will be a 5 year anniversary for Sciencemadness in 2007.

Edit: thanks for the date correction, Fish.

[Edited on 3-29-2004 by Polverone]




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tom haggen
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[*] posted on 28-3-2004 at 16:43


Well it's nice to learn a little about the history of this website. I must say that i'm a fan of your guy's banner. I joined this forum sometime in Nov. 2003 and Coincidentally you had seen and increase in traffic because of the suicidal finnish chemistry student. I actually had never even herd of that story, but mabey thats why EW was starting to show up on google. Thats how I became turned on to these sites. I must say I like this site a lot, it is much more laid back than E&W. I've been planning on studying engineering for some time now and I almost have a degree in manufacturing. At first I was initially going to go on and study mechanical engineering, but i'm seriously reconsidering and thinking of studying chemical. Hopefully one day I will become a wealth of knowledge and will be able to share some excellent information to this site. More than likely I will be studying materials engineering because its somewhere between mechanical and chemical. congrats on the sucess of your site. I like how this site is home to a diverse crowd, and is home to many europeans, I like to think of myself as a european minded individual.





[Edited on 29-3-2004 by tom haggen]




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[*] posted on 28-3-2004 at 16:44
muted applause


() () () () () () () () () () () () () () () ().....
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[*] posted on 28-3-2004 at 19:23


i'm almost crying, this forum has brought me love for chemistry, which i had lost at the depen of informatic during my first teenager year, it also helped me to find what i really want to do in life. I think it's pretty sad that we've lost some great members like madscientis and Ph Z (some other that i can't think of right now but that you can find if you use the member list), but some good one got added, i'm thinking about Chemoleo, who literaly brought life to this forum, axehandle, Bromic Acid, Blaster....

I'm actually proud of being a members of this board, and to be here to celebrate this milestone.




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[*] posted on 28-3-2004 at 19:53
Huzzah!


I think the administration here deserves a huge round of applause. Polverone, Madscientist, Vulture, Chemoleo, you all deserve to take a bow, you've done a wonderful service with this forum!

Since I started here, posting seems to have almost doubled. The activity is intimidating to be honest, the subjects, people researching, developing, racing against one another with opposing ideas for a common goal, getting out and experimenting, then hypothesizing and revising, editing and fixing. This is as close to the pioneering days of chemistry as I could ever imagine coming. Chemistry is the true language here. This forum, our forum, everyone here keeps it together, it truly is a wondrous thing. "The art and science of amateur experimentalism" Those words are at the top of every page and regardless of our inattention to them they are still the bottom line here.

We rediscover the past, looking through methods of manufacture that are barely a footnote leading to a faded book on some far away library shelf that in all likely hood we have no acess too, but we make due. I mean, I'm building a Castner cell, people here have made nitric acid with the arc method, the contact process of H2SO4 manufacture is being worked out on a civilian scale and so many other experiments are being reborn, retrofitted from their deathbed fifty, or even a hundred and fifty years ago. I know I'm rambling but I'm just so proud to be a member of this forum.

Everyone, we are all as diverese in some way as the subjects we broch, continue that and this forum will continue to be a most miraculis thing on the world wide web, a uniqe and lasting experience that will better each and every one of us.

Oh, and what about member 153 with no name? Creepy....




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[*] posted on 28-3-2004 at 20:14
The forum helps us all


While I am still a newbie this forum has helped me learn about chemistry. My granddad is happy for me. He told me about making D salts in college, working as and EE in the navy and other things. Right now he is building potato cannons. I was just on the phone with him and he is delighted that I am using safety equipment and the level of responsibility he said I'm showing. However its not just me; the great people on this forum have shown the right, safe way to do things.

In a world quickly becoming mass produced, in a can and people becoming more like sheep; fearing the unknown or that burst of sunlight over the next hill this forum shines out as a radiant lamp of chemical knowledge. My granddad is a 'Modern Renisonce Man'. Thank god-or-whatever that there is a place on the web where chemistry and science in general is not shut up in the stuffy walls of college but available to anyone with a willing mind and a few household chemicals.

All it takes is a used textbook and a trip to the local drugstore to experience the fun of chemistry. While my granddad remembers the days when he could buy nitric acid at the local drugstore and mercury by the flask much has changed in the years after the 1920's. I can carry on my granddad's love of science(chemistry and electronics) into the next century.

Chemical knowledge has shaped nations, started or won wars and changed history all because of the position of one tiny little atom. We have come a long way from the days of the Greeks but there lies in the future many more discoveries to be made. It is wrong to keep chemistry locked away from the common man, to keep knowledge of the world around us from people. Sadly the government is doing just that, spurred on by the masses of sheep.

Take Blaster for example. He is one of the few people on the earth to make Ethyl Perchlorate outside of a real lab. His bravery and talent has helped the home chemists around the world by inspiration alone.

A forum about chemistry for the sake of chemistry is a thing of beauty in a word so concerned about instant gratification and profit. The hive concentrates on honey and E&W on explosives but SM stands out as one of the few places home chemists can gather and discuss their art.

Edit: It was Ethyl Perchlorate not Ethyle Peroxide but hey at least someone read my post!:D

[Edited on 29-3-2004 by Quantum]




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Blind Angel
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[*] posted on 28-3-2004 at 20:26


Ethyl Perchlorate i think ;)



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[*] posted on 28-3-2004 at 22:37


Well I guess I'm still a newbie here as well but to say the least its been inspiring here. Before I found this wonderfull place I was at totse for about a year but pure chem was not very popular there. The moment I found this place totse was basically dead to me. I am now addicted to this place, almost all free time I have I spend here(when I'm not in the lab:P). Thanks to this place I have done procedures I never would have thought of a year or two ago. Thanks all.
Now how about that round of applause Bromic acid sugested for the admin; Polverone, Madscientist, Vulture, Chemoleo. *clap* *clap* *clap*
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[*] posted on 29-3-2004 at 01:31


Quote:
Originally posted by Polverone

In October 2003, a Finnish chemistry student named Petri Gerdt killed himself and seven other people, wounding more than 70, in a shopping mall near Helsinki with a homemade explosive device.


It was October 2002, not 2003.




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[*] posted on 29-3-2004 at 01:38


This forum has been one of the best places on the net to socialize. I mean, it's diverse, friendly and full of smart people with interesting ideas. I've never seen such a large forum that was not filled with lamers or that didn't flame and scare away every newbie. The willingness of helping others here is really something worth commending.

Another thing that strikes me here is the ambition in the pursuit of knowledge and interests. With so many interesting ideas, suggestions and help floating around, this board has really helped me change my opinion on a subject I dreaded.

Most importantly, not only is this forum friendly, but I am amazed by how much people here truely care for others - amazed at how they always take safety into account first, warning about unforseen hazards. If not for them, Im sure some members may not be around anymore.


Thanks alot everyone :D

Edit: Ooooohhhh!!!! 250th post! :D

[Edited on 29-3-2004 by Saerynide]
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[*] posted on 29-3-2004 at 03:33


Thank you for this place.
You guys who put this place together have something to be proud of. Certainly has changed the life of many people.

I agree with saerenyde completely. We are lucky to have found a place where we can share our passion with people who think like us.
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[*] posted on 29-3-2004 at 04:09
Thank you guys


Well I have that I've found no other forum like this before. I've been with E&W forum and their interest in chem is totally different (if one can all that chemistry discussion). The way new guys like me are treated here is wonderful. I've come to love this place. Thanks a lot all of you guys. You should be proud of creating and managing such a forum. Keep it up.
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[*] posted on 29-3-2004 at 16:47


I would like to thank everyone responsible for creating and maintaining this board!

I was very interested in chemistry during my high school years, after finding and reading my father's chemistry books when I was in 8th grade. This was in the late 1970's. I remember the first thing I tried to do was blow up a balloon with hydrogen, made with hydrochloric acid and an aluminum can. I never had much luck because the solution would boil and fill the balloon with HCl instead. I made soap, which was successful, and even ended up making a tiny chunk of sodium by electrolysing NaOH. Inside the house, no less! I got special permission to take chemistry a year earlier than most people do in high school. My chemistry teacher was sympathetic of my desire to learn and was able to get me a few chemicals that the school was going to throw away. Later on in high school and college I did some pyrotechnic stuff. Pretty low-tech from a pyro standpoint (mostly stuff with black powder), but I liked to come up with weird ways of setting off the fireworks. I once put on a show at night that started automatically at a set time while I just sat and watched, and later allowed people in the audience to "ignite" various fireworks by simply shining a flashlight on a photocell from a distance.

After I graduated from college, I didn't think about chemistry too often. Until late in 1991, when I found rec.pyrotechnics on Usenet. I decided to order some chemicals to play around with. I was pretty naieve about ordering things. At the time there was no internet (for the masses anyway), so companies still put out paper catalogs. I made a list of the chemicals I wanted, and gave the company a call. After carefully taking my entire order and getting all my personal information, the clerk informed me that since I had ordered some chemicals that are considered dangerous, I would have to talk with their chemist to ensure that I knew how to handle them. I was greeted by a gruff man who said "So, I see you've ordered some dangerous chemicals here, is that right?" I agreed, but said I had experience with chemistry and could handle them safely. At that point he said something like "Well that's just fine then! In order for me to ship these chemicals to you, I need a letter signed by your local fire department saying they are aware that you have these chemicals, because they're the ones that will have to respond and deal with them the first time you have an accident." And that was about the end of my interest at that point. I went on to other things - radio, electronics, microcontrollers, etc.

It wasn't until late last year that I ran across the idea of "ordinary citizens" experimenting. I obtained a CD that had reprints of the all the Scientific American magazine's Amateur Scientist articles for the 20th century. I was looking for boards to discuss these articles on, and ran across both MadScience and E&W at about the same time. Meanwhile I found that I could buy various chemicals on E-Bay.

I also read E&W from time to time. I like energetic materials, but that's certainly not my only chemistry interest. At E&W, it seems that the main interest is (as the name would imply) explosives and weapons. Chemistry is secondary. I'm only interested in chemistry, and have little interest in explosives/weapons "for their own sake". Nothing wrong with that interest - its just not mine. So I am glad to have MadScience, where the focus stays on chemistry.
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[*] posted on 29-3-2004 at 19:23


About a year or two back, I had been in a crisis: I was doing pretty well in math and physics, but my chem scores were lagging behind. What I really needed was some motivation to study the subject, and out of the blue, I stumbled across two places which were brimming with ideas and the "fun" part of chemistry: The E&W Forum, and of course, this forum. Well, I was bitten by the chem bug, and since then, it's been occupying all my free time (and my finances!). Today, It's hard to believe that at some point of time, I actually detested chem!

I'd like to thank all those who have made this place what it is today.
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[*] posted on 29-3-2004 at 19:58
thank you!


I would like to thank the administrators and members who make this forum so successful. It has done a great deal to revive and sustain my natant interest in chemistry - plus it is just a lot of fun!

The internet provides an ideal mechanism for this I feel. We have formality in that contributors usually give some thought before posting - not like those live forums on TV where everyone is talking on top of each other. We have worldwide participation which I think greatly enriches the contributions.

We have an esoteric subject apparently as we really don't have that many members when you consider our potential audience - it must be in the millions. Why is it that chemistry - the central science - has so few dedicated amateurs?

I joined this forum a few months ago and already I can see how it has become more sophisticated. Yet it is still retains its welcoming and helpful attitude to newcomers.

Thanks especially to Polverone, Madscientist, and vulture who had the resolve to stick with this in the early years. Also much thanks for their considerable time and effort that is often transparent to the members. But mostly thanks for your vision of what this forum should be and is.
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[*] posted on 1-4-2004 at 18:12


Aww, now you've gone and made me get this warm fuzzy feeling inside. I love you gals and guys. [HUG] This place seems so fragile, I am surprised to see that it <i>hasn't</i> been overrun by kewls and lamers. I truly appreciate the excellent work the mods and admins have done, quite outstanding to say the least.

I realize that I haven't contributed nearly as much as I hoped to have, but perhaps a couple of my dumb posts will answer a few of the questions of new newcomers. Sadly I haven't been able to keep up with my chemistry self-education counterintuitively due to school. That place is my state's central sheep factory. I am determined to contribute <i>something</i> during the summer, no matter what. I couldn't have said it better than Magpie.




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[*] posted on 2-4-2004 at 23:21
Clap clap clap clap


Back in my BS days i came here just for an argument but then I looked around and the place really grw on me.

Talk about easy going,I have one of the highest postcounts and still contributed like next to nothing, yet I'm still here.

IMHo this will for some time keep it's homey feel, not many people even know about this board, thats prolly a good thing :)
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[*] posted on 3-4-2004 at 06:28


Vulture has sometimes been accused of having a heart of stone and the mercy of a snake in his dealings with unruly members, but I assure you that is completely backwards.

A stone? A snake? Don't you guys know vultures are birds? You know, those things that can fly without kerosene? :)

Anyways, I'm honoured to be able to moderate this board and I'd like to thank Polverone for his (financial) efforts to keep this place up and running.

I know I can be a real ass sometimes. Sometimes I judge people too fast, but I usually minimize my friendly fire ratio.




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[*] posted on 3-4-2004 at 11:40
I'll drink to that!!


Well done to the pioneers of this forum. My contributions here have been somewhat limited and I almost feel guilty. What I know came from here. I was in the shadows for part of the story you told us Polverone and feel proud I even played that little part. Thanks for that, and the normal people you all are. If any of you want to visit my weird country, please look me up, in return I'd be honoured to help out, besides playing with chems. :D

I pledge my allegence with this forum.




[Edited on 3-4-2004 by froot]




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[*] posted on 3-4-2004 at 16:16


I just like it.

As soon the local telecom (still monopol) is able to provide me with an (working) ADSL line - or another highspeed connection is available to me I will be able to help a little more. And I will be glad to do so. ;)

open minds & open hearts & teasing the vulture ;)
the journey has just begun.




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[*] posted on 4-4-2004 at 11:13
Cheers to Polverone


I think Polverone does indeed deserve a humble bow and words of immense gratitude for supplying us with the tools to engage in our interests...
Not only for the work/time he put in, but importantly also, for the continued financial effort that is required to keep this site going!
Thank you very much!

The same goes for Vulture, who can be a bit rough at times (dont we all know ;) ), but maybe that is what's just required - so thanks for putting the kEwls in their place, and keeping this place tidy, despite the antagonism you may at times receive.

Then of course, a forum would be nothing without its valuable members - so cheers for widening our chemical horizons!

You would not believe my delight once I stumbled across this forum! I started off experimenting many years ago, obtaining scraps of information here and there, not ever having anyone to discuss thoughts and ideas (well apart from a few less chemically inclined friends). The prime source was the library, which, by being in a smaller town, was somewhat limited. My foremost source of information was Roempp, plus a few other text books. Any more than superficial knowledge relating to energetic materials was unattainable. Chemicals were collected over many years from various OTC products, in fact I alwys took great pride in isolating certain compounds from certain household products.
Then the internet, and later the forum, came. Suddenly I had huge resources at my finger tips, collective ideas on amateur experimentalism, and link lists such as that from I_am_a_fish which finally enabled me to obtain various materials that I tediously had to make myself previously, or that I simply never thought I would lay my hands upon.
With the forum, I have to confess, my interest in amateur chem has fully reignited, after having had several years of less activity (partially I was too preoccupied with my studies). I check this site more than any other, more than the news, or my email.
I think that says it all :)




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[*] posted on 21-4-2004 at 05:45


Found this while wading through the stats:

Quote:

59.28% of all members have posted.


Looking at roguesci and my own dutch chemistry board, this is an unusually high ratio.

That also means the board still has a huge growth potential and that we can speak of a real community spirit.




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[*] posted on 21-4-2004 at 10:29


Quote:

That also means the board still has a huge growth potential and that we can speak of a real community spirit.


Vulture can you explain me the logic path which led you to these conclusions? I cannot follow....

Nevertheless - the ratio of active members to inactive ones shows that we are on the right way. The plain number of registered members isnt important at all IMHO.

btw. what does the next 5-years plan say vulture? I know world domonation is termed for 2020 but what is to do in the nearer future? And have we any internal regulation concerning jesuits?
:)




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[*] posted on 21-4-2004 at 10:36


Well, if you consider that the contributor/member ratio is usually 10%-20% that means we can expect alot of "lurker" registrations so to say.


Quote:

Nevertheless - the ratio of active members to inactive ones shows that we are on the right way. The plain number of registered members isnt important at all IMHO.


Exactly, 60% active membership is an astonishing number.

The 5 year plan for now is graduating in chemistry and making sure this forum stays as good as it is. Better would be nice, but I'm not a fan of utopia.




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[*] posted on 22-4-2004 at 05:28


vulture wrote:
Quote:

Better would be nice


Na....
.... I got used to you vulture and would miss you badly! Lets just hold the level and you stay - yes?

Yes!
Thats fine!
ORG ;)




Restrict alcohol and Tobacco.
Legalize everything else.
Mandatory LSD for politicians and Franklyn.
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