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Author: Subject: What is the point of amateur chemistry?
Texium (zts16)
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[*] posted on 23-2-2018 at 16:13


Quote: Originally posted by NEMO-Chemistry  
ZTS Texium or home lab guy (love that name!), is a good example. Slayed on reddit, a mod here and clearly a natural chemist. until recently he was unpaid for chemistry and therefore an amateur, again another example of why i dont mind being associated with Amateurs!

Think about it, ZTS is slagged on reddit by snobs with bigger mouths than iQ's, yet the guy knows more than most the muppet snowflakes who post there...So take your pick, aspire to be a reddit professional or a science madness amateur.....I know which title i would prefer ;)
Well thanks, though to be fair, I've never been slagged on Reddit as far as I know. I don't usually go on Reddit, so unless someone else posted something of mine on there, I haven't directly interacted with their people before.

Perhaps you are thinking of Zephyr/pinkhippo, who was indeed savagely torn up after posting pictures of his beautiful lab (which I have had the pleasure of visiting on a couple occasions). Not only did they accuse him of not being safe, in spite of having a working, professional fume hood, they had the nerve to accuse him of stealing the nice chemicals he had. They were completely ignorant to the fact that buying chemicals online is extremely easy, and often affordable.




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[*] posted on 23-2-2018 at 16:22


Quote: Originally posted by Texium (zts16)  
They were completely ignorant


Yes. Everything that they said against his beautiful lab, was a glimpse into how little practical chemical knowledge they had. That is definitely a lab deserving of praise, not criticism.
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[*] posted on 23-2-2018 at 22:49


Pursuit of knowledge... greatest virtue there is in this life.

Not for financial gain... not because my parents made me (lol)... not because I want to manufacture drugs... not because I want to blow things up 'for the cause'... not for any external motivator that sullies the whole shebang (that's what programming is for) but because I can or rather I can a little bit... I want to say I can when I really can...

I thought I could very well. This forum makes me realise that I know nothing... and it's fucking awesome as I'm only at the begining of a journey that I've always known was one that makes this odd exsistance worth living.

And I huff ether like, pretty much every 20 minutes... I use an old rag I found in a toilet ages ago... fuck yeah




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[*] posted on 24-2-2018 at 10:17


For me chemistry is a bit like woodworking or doing a crossword puzzle. It's an exercise that I find interesting and relaxing, whether it leads to anything new in the world or not. :-)

If nothing else, 'hobby' science can be a real service to the public's interest in science. Check out Cody's Lab on Youtube. His videos of aluminum oxide growing from a mercury amalgam are scientifically meaningless, but they're pure magic for the kids who might grow up to be our next generation of leading scientific and technical minds. Nothing he's doing matters (in the original research sense). But watch him refine platinum from the dust left on the side of the highway by slowly eroding catalytic converters and you can't help but be delighted. :-)

Having a hobby lab at home also lets you try things that you shouldn't be trying at work/school (since you aren't authorized to use your time and the company's resources that way.) You give up some resources at home, but you gain freedom to tinker and learn, to tinker with the basics without any pressure to 'be useful'.

A hobby lab is, for me, a form of play.
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[*] posted on 24-2-2018 at 14:15


Quote: Originally posted by Texium (zts16)  
What is the point of anything?


The edge




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[*] posted on 24-2-2018 at 16:15


Quote: Originally posted by Cou  
I notice that most experienced chemists, such as grad students and chem professors, strongly disapprove of home chemistry.

As everyone can agree, fun is a huge factor for being an amateur chemist. But if this reason is not enough, as Texium says, all kinds of chemists are fascinated, amazed, sometimes jealous of you and your chemical lab.
As you seem quite interested in the views of chemistry students and professors I will give you two ('quick' was going to be here but ahhh, detail my Achilles heel!) personal stories from my very limited interaction with them (only beginning uni this year).

I was talking to a fellow applicant at warwick uni on a coach on an applicant day and after telling her about experiments I do at home and how enthused I was with chemistry she said she hadn't been too sure on what to go further with but had decided she enjoyed chemistry and would go that route (I felt bad at this point!). In her eyes I was very intelligent and was very impressed.

Another chemistry applicant visit day I was invited to was at bath uni and I had an interview with a very friendly french academic. We got on very well from the start and brought up my chemistry blog which had been on my personal statement and how he had read a few posts and how blown away by it he was with all the experiments I did, obviously showing a fantastic love for chemistry. Now listen to this! He said very calmly that I was a brilliant student and he wanted to know what he/bath could do to make me choose bath as my firm choice. I told him the truth and said the uni is just too far away, unfortunately, from my partner's uni for my liking, for which he was respectful of, but I am almost certain if I asked for an unconditional offer he would have organised for me to receive one.

The point is, I want to stress that I am hardly intelligent, I am definitely in the bottom half of the applicants grade wise, and my blog shows my shit chemical knowledge compared to the amazing people on this forum. I can barely carry out a distillation! My name is 18thTimeLucky for a reason, hardly anything seems to work for me! But it is the love for the subject they are significantly interested in, and by god, if owning a chemistry lab at home isn't damn proof of your devotion to this field, then what is?

In short, grades are the short term indicator of a successful chemistry student, passion, shown by a home lab, is the long term indicator of a successful chemist.
Comparable to short term good looks and long term nice personalities in relationships. Muscles are flashy and all, but its not likely to work unless you are attracted to their personality.

(hopefully this didn't sound too much like a plug for my blog, especially with my signature that is always advertising it :o)




Yep, I have a chemistry blog!
18thtimelucky.wordpress.com

"Amateur chemistry does seem like being in a relationship with someone very beautiful and seductive but has expensive taste, farts a lot and doesn't clean up after themselves, but you love them anyway" - a dear friend
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[*] posted on 24-2-2018 at 19:25


I like tea and crumpets, but also latt├ęs and strumpets. :D

Get some lab time and you will start to understand chemistry.




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[*] posted on 24-2-2018 at 19:57


What is the point of "amateur" chemistry? First and foremost, it allows you to explore the world on your own terms. It can start out as just mixing things together to see what happens. It could start with a chemistry set and doing the experiments in the manual (well, perhaps not so much any more). It could start on a serious footing with an interest in why certain things happen or how things behave. Investigating the colors of flowers and vegetables and learning how these colors behave with simple chemical treatments is a common entry into "amateur" chemistry. It is amazing to me how many chemists that I have known started with the basement or garage lab set up. A good case in point is the very famous organic chemist R. B. Woodward. He started with a home laboratory and later went on to win a Nobel Prize. He was responsible for the synthesis of many natural products (who needs another milligram of chlorophyll or vitamin B12?) which in many cases relied on the Diels-Alder reaction, a reaction that fascinated him as an "amateur" chemist. The point being that his great enthusiasm for organic chemistry started as a boy chemist in his home laboratory. His story is not unique.

Those who diminish the experience gained in a home laboratory are not aware of the value of that experience. This is probably a case of envy among newly minted graduate students who somehow view themselves as "chemical experts." Granted, some home chemists are careless or living dangerously. However, from what I have seen on this forum, I have to believe that most everyone is careful and aware of the risks. I also see that there is a great deal of learning that goes on here, both from experimentation and from the passing on of information gained from experience.

The point of amateur chemistry? To learn and have fun exploring the world around us. We need to just keep on doing it.

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[*] posted on 24-2-2018 at 20:54


What is the point of liking electro breakbeat. What is the point of falling in love when you know it'll end in disaster. What is the point of playing rugby, chess, sudoku, the 'gas or gulag' street game one plays with passers by. What is the point in hedonism. What is the point in stoicism. What is the point of burning your own flesh with the heated metal of a bic lighter. What is the point in taking on 5 bullies at once to stick up for someone and getting bottles smashed over your head. What is the point in life....

The question should not be 'what is the point?' But 'why need a point' ...

Intrinsic good is the only true good in this realm. Don't question for an answer as the question is redundant. Question because it's inherent in your nature as it is the root of all virtue and the greatest of all goods...




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[*] posted on 26-2-2018 at 16:55


The point?

Well, to quote my mentor, The Brain: "World Domination!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGUqwaORfbU

[Edited on 27-2-2018 by zed]
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[*] posted on 26-2-2018 at 18:24


Actually there isnt a point the more I think of it, its just the love of doing something you enjoy. If it works or not you have learnt something. I really struggle to see what people learn from hitting the shit out of a little white ball, but they tend to spend more money on long walks in the rain hitting the little white ball, than we spend on our labs.

Stamp collecting can get really expensive, ok there is some history to learn and a few other things. But ultimately what has it taught you? What is to be gained by collecting small bits of printed paper, paper that in reality only has value because someone says it has. Its a form of currency to get other bits of paper from one place to another, these days much of this has been side stepped by email, maybe one day people will collect email headers.

Gardening is a hobby, in some ways it can be like stamp collecting or like chemistry. You get to choose with gardening, study it and begin to understand plants and you learn, you learn alot. just plonked colours you like in the ground year after year and you learn little, so gardening has potential depending on your attitude to it.

Chemistry like all science is a learning experience, its normally pursued by people who are curious, people who like to question things. The point of any hobby is to enjoy what you do, that is the entire point. If your goal is to discover something new or important then it isnt a hobby, it becomes a vocation unless your paid then it becomes a job.

I dont think anything has a point, absolutely nothing has a point until you have a reason to do it or you give it a point. In my case the point of chemistry as a hobby is to try and understand how something I want to do works. I have an end goal, several end goals. If i was able i would likely goto university, i dont go because i am worried it will kill off what drives me. I worry i wont keep up with a set schedule, i worry i will look stupid and not fit in.

So instead i learn the bits i think i need and the bits i like, so those are my points for doing my hobby my way. I doubt others have the same points, or reasons if we want to be more precise.

point is really another word for reason, what reason do we have for doing chemistry at home, there we have finally reached the real question. But then once you reach that you discover only you can answer your reason, its a personal question with no single answer.

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[*] posted on 26-2-2018 at 19:34


Quote: Originally posted by happyfooddance  

I am sure you can only learn it by doing it. So if you spend 16 hours a day at the lab, you will learn a lot. But if you spend 24, I can only imagine you'd learn more.
If you spend 24 hours a day in the lab, you will be too tired to focus and likely to severely hurt yourself. Always be well rested when performing dangerous procedures.



[Edited on 04-20-1969 by clearly_not_atara]
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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 02:17


May I suggest this thread seems to be a good sticky for Beginnings, anybody who is considering home chemistry can see the opinions of many others on why such a hobby is so wonderful (and useful), hopefully convincing them of this fact or giving them some perspective. Also there is only 2 sticky posts in Beginnings so this would add to the small pile. Just a thought.

(Also just noticed NEMO that you have reached the same number of post as zed even though he was registered 8 years before you! :P )




Yep, I have a chemistry blog!
18thtimelucky.wordpress.com

"Amateur chemistry does seem like being in a relationship with someone very beautiful and seductive but has expensive taste, farts a lot and doesn't clean up after themselves, but you love them anyway" - a dear friend
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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 05:20


it's in my nature to make stuff, i like woodworking, i like gardening, i like drawing, i like making electronic circuits, i like biology, i like raising animals, i like fixing objects, i like building stuff, i really love just turning something into something else. chemistry for me is the best, i can transform things at the atomic level, something that amazes me, starting from something and getting at the end something compleatly different, i feel powerful doing it.
my father doesn't like my hobbies, my apartment is really small (47m^2) and i occupy all the avaliable space with my stuff, and everytime i make something he asks me quite annoyed "what's its purpose now?" well i need it for something else, then he would ask the same question about this new thing, and so on. the purpose of a home lab is in my interest. if you like chemistry, having a home lab is like having a home, you feel yourself in your lab. doing new (or old) experiments occupies my time in a way i find interesting and useful (even if it's not useful for the planets, even if it's just for me).





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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 08:27


Quote: Originally posted by clearly_not_atara  
Quote: Originally posted by happyfooddance  

I am sure you can only learn it by doing it. So if you spend 16 hours a day at the lab, you will learn a lot. But if you spend 24, I can only imagine you'd learn more.
If you spend 24 hours a day in the lab, you will be too tired to focus and likely to severely hurt yourself. Always be well rested when performing dangerous procedures.


The point isn't working 24 hours in the lab, it's the fact that if you live in your lab (home lab), the chemistry never leaves you.

Sometimes I'll have a fractional distillation or something refluxing overnight, I might wake up to use the restroom, and I'll go check on it... It is a nice feeling. I think if the lab was across town I would get worried about my projects.
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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 09:14



Quote:

and everytime i make something he asks me quite annoyed "what's its purpose now?" well i need it for something else, then he would ask the same question about this new thing, and so on



Just tell him that it's finally for meth, it's what he's probably looking to hear. :D
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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 12:09


For me, home chemistry is part of a broader endeavor, I would like to call amateur science (or home science). Doing home science at a reasonable level is something I enjoy very much. I always am eager to understand how things work, especially natural processes, but also man-made things. I also like to know about the more extreme things of what nature is capable of. What is extreme? To my opinion it is that which is far away from the common, from the things we take for granted every day. Understanding these extreme things makes me understand the world better. When a certain understanding works for common things and then the same also works for much more borderline or even extreme things, then that is great.

Home chemistry is one of the sciences which is most accessible at the amateur level, even with little resources. Despite all regulations of the last few decades, still a lot of funny and interesting things can be done in home chemistry. Biology and physics also are very interesting, but actually experimenting in these fields of science is more difficult, either due to safety concerns (e.g. working with life things, which could reproduce and spread without control) or due to high cost. Another rewarding subject of home science is mathematics, allowing experiments to be performed by means of computers.

All of this I do without getting money for it. I have a job in ICT (mainly consultancy, but also some software engineering). My science things I do at home. I have complete freedom in what I want to investigate, no need to worry about business cases, profitability, deadlines and that kind of things. There are only two real limits: safety and cost.

As I said, I like to find the borders of understanding. Hence my great interest in obscure chemistry, not usually published in standard text books. I really can be amazed by the wonderful compounds, which can be made from upper right elements in the periodic table (such as SO2Cl2, NOClO4, ONBr, ONCl). The same is true for all those colorful and fascinating transition metal complexes. This kind of chemistry is what I like most, because the specific colors or high reactivities make observations possible without the need of (expensive) equipment.




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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 12:17


Simply said, the purpose of amateur chemistry is freedom which you lack in professional chemistry.
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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 12:52


Quote: Originally posted by 18thTimeLucky?  
May I suggest this thread seems to be a good sticky for Beginnings, anybody who is considering home chemistry can see the opinions of many others on why such a hobby is so wonderful (and useful), hopefully convincing them of this fact or giving them some perspective. Also there is only 2 sticky posts in Beginnings so this would add to the small pile. Just a thought.

(Also just noticed NEMO that you have reached the same number of post as zed even though he was registered 8 years before you! :P )

Its official i am a post whore! lol
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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 13:57


My current personal view of home chemistry is that, for me, it is a more challenging and advanced practice of the general science of chemistry!

The rationale is based on limitations (and increasingly so) on access to reagents and available equipment for the home chemists in various jurisdictions (or access without being placed on some list). To overcome, this can require more ingenuity and an expanded knowledge base. The latter could involve also experience in such diverse areas, as for example, the chemistry of radicals (including fenton and fenton-like reactions), electrochemical reactions, surface chemistry, photolysis, application of microwaves, sonolysis, physical chemistry, ....

Now, some may feel fine with following recipes with good access to reagents, but I feel it is more rewarding to do the same or more, with less!

This may also be financially rewarding for some as patents can involve simply doing something already done, but in a more timely (or even possibly slower) way at a much lower cost! One way I suspect this can be accomplished is by reading old texts (many available online) which detail a particular preparation and, based on more modern knowledge (like there is an electrochemical aspect to the reaction) improve the process (say by adding a good electrolyte).

One can even ignore the cost considerations if one can, for example, disinfect a large body of water to produce safe drinking water employing available items, when the normal supply chain of reagents, for whatever reason, has been disrupted.
---------------------------------------------------------------

Interestingly, per my comments above, it might be inferred that I am not actually recommending practicing home chemistry for those without a good background in the science. Perhaps, it is like someone who cannot swim going to the beach. It is best not to get into deep water before you can really swim!

[Edited on 27-2-2018 by AJKOER]
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[*] posted on 27-2-2018 at 16:21


"Interestingly, per my comments above, it might be inferred that I am not actually recommending practicing home chemistry for those without a good background in the science. Perhaps, it is like someone who cannot swim going to the beach. It is best not to get into deep water before you can really swim!"

probably some the best words posted on the forum.

There is a big difference between ambition and ability, confusing the two can kill.
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[*] posted on 2-3-2018 at 12:37


https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/a_journey_of_a_thousand_miles...

That being said, discretion is the better part of valor. Walk, don't run.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIuIIqbyEIU

[Edited on 2-3-2018 by zed]
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[*] posted on 12-6-2018 at 11:48


I was thinking about this thread recently.

Everything your mind encounters causes it to adapt in some way. It's like training a muscle. You don't just spot train one area though. If you take care to train properly, then you become an overall strong person. Practicing amateur chemistry is just one more thing that adds to a well-trained mind, especially if your interests fall within the sciences. While you're at it pick up a musical instrument, program some stuff, study some electronics, etc.

It may not seem apparent when you're younger, but a lifetime habit of self-motivation and learning new things can bring you to a point in your 30's or 40's where every new thing you encounter is somewhat related to something you already know. Your mind is used to being curious and is trained to learn, you pick up new concepts rapidly, and can speak intelligently with a variety of people across multiple, but related disciplines.

Spending time at home with a chemistry set is never a waste of time, so long as your mind is engaged. The experience will help train your mind to think a certain way, and will follow you into other areas later in life.

Quote: Originally posted by Reboot  
Having a hobby lab at home also lets you try things that you shouldn't be trying at work/school (since you aren't authorized to use your time and the company's resources that way.)


It's not a black-and-white issue sometimes. If you work in a research facility, they may encourage you to come in after hours to play in the lab. They consider this time spent in the lab to be an investment in both yours and the business' future capabilities. Sometimes they may let you purchase small amounts of chemicals or lab supplies on the company nickel.

[Edited on 6-12-2018 by WGTR]




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[*] posted on 13-6-2018 at 06:12


Quote: Originally posted by Texium (zts16)  
I think it's a very broad generalization to say that "the experts" disapprove of us.


Of course it is - that just comes across like the guy has a huge chip on his shoulder as usual.

Why would an expert resent an amateur finding something out? It is ridiculous to suggest and I don't believe it's true at all - a MASSIVE generalisation and distortion of reality as zts16 has already said.




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[*] posted on 13-6-2018 at 07:34


1: It keeps you busy when you're not at the waffle house.
2: It covers up body odors with more exotic scents like isoamylacetate
3: It can expose you to so much pthalate that you won't even need to make your own estrogen to release the woman trapped inside you.
4: It's more interesting and entertaining than asking, "What's the point?" type questions.


Fun Fact: Did you know former Senator Robert J Dole would sometimes call them," Pancakes houses"?
Holy Peter Storemare!


[Edited on 13-6-2018 by SWIM]




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