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Author: Subject: Amateur chemistry from both sides of the table
chemist1243
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[*] posted on 21-10-2020 at 14:12
Amateur chemistry from both sides of the table


In this form, I’d say 99.98% of us do chemistry at home. This is because a large amount of people are interested in science but (surprise!) dont have access to a lab equipped with loads expensive equipment, staff, training, etc.

In most cases, we are safe and responsible chemists who dispose of chemicals properly, communicate academically with other chemists, use proper safety equipment, catalog experiments and chemicals, and abide by all the rules necessary to maintain a safe and working lab environment. Some people are the opposite; irresponsible and a danger to the safety of others, weather they know it or not.

We are true scientists who invest vast amounts of time and money in the pursuit of knowledge, yet our reputation is tainted by meth labs, uncontrolled explosions and fires, and generally dangerous and ignorant behavior.

I often am frustrated at the consequences of this stigma. You get strange looks, people trust you a tiny bit less - maybe they fear what you might be doing - and this fear often causes more destruction than the activities which actually go on, with various members reporting prosecution, police being called, and other actions being taken based on fear of what you COULD be doing - not what you are.

It’s easy to be angry, but i have to remind myself what the person on the other side is thinking. All they see is a someone mixing chemicals together in a make-shift lab and using wacky glasswear. Most of These people dont remember even half of highschool chemistry, let alone why it would be important for you to make nitroaniline or dioxane in your lab. They just dont know enough about it.

Ignorance is no excuse to disrupt and tarnish an innocent hobby that some one enjoys, but i dont think they really see it that way.

What do you think? It’s no good to not explore the reasoning of a viewpoint you may not agree with, but then again its so easy to think a certain way and shoot down everything else.

I’m gonna assume most people here are on the same side of the table, but its still really important to discuss other viewpoints anyway. The stigma of our hobby is one of the main societal issues we face, so why not talk about the people who make that stigma exist in a way that lets us understand them? Without making the effort to understand what someone else thinks, we cannot expect anyone else to do the same to us.

Remember to be polite and not get political. I understand that politics is a very large driving force of restrictions that effect home chemistry, however its very important that we dont get bogged down in a blame war. This is about trying to explore opposing views, not destructively criticize them.
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Antigua
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[*] posted on 21-10-2020 at 14:29


I feel like it all comes down to personal attitude.
One can either TRY to understand what a chemist does and possibly get interested in their motives in a friendly and open way, but one can also be suspicious and derogatory in approaching another. If someone's a jerk, no matter how little methlabs there existed or how noble some hobby is, they're going to make fun of it or mock it. That's just the way it is. I sincerely hope all of ScienceMadness's close ones and friends belong to the first group, not being judgemental based on one peek.

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[*] posted on 21-10-2020 at 15:16


Another reason to do chemistry at home is that you can't just do anything you want in a professor's university lab. They only spend their grant money on stuff that can be published, whereas we can buy any chemicals we want.

If there's something novel I want to research, I would do it at university. but I also like making random molecules and doing lab experiments from a lab guide like Vogel's Practical Organic Chemistry. One of my biggest interests is making random esters to discover what they smell like, for myself.

At home we have the freedom to dick around with chemicals however we want. A professor wouldn't want me using their lab for frivolous reasons.

[Edited on 10-21-2020 by Cou]




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[*] posted on 21-10-2020 at 17:26
Responsibilty


As chemists we have to be respectful of the
people around us.

My particular hobby is energetics with an
emphasis on pyrotechnics and ballistics.
That in itself can present a negative view
to those not so inclined. My family and
friends understand me and are generally
supportive of what I do even with some
sense of nervousness. That's understood.
As long as I'm careful about it they're
not too concerned. Safety is the 1st rule
as always and they appreciate this.





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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 03:17


World is ran by ignorance. I can't just not think it that majority of people want to live an ordinary, boring life and just get the minimum done to stay well. They have normal, boring dreams and goals and generally use most of their time as spending by watching tv or doing something non-creative.

What separates for example me from basically everyone I know is that when they watch tv, play games, go drinking or just hang out doing random things, I spend quite a lot of my time in creative hobbies and researching. I don't feel myself any bit better than anyone else, I do what I like, but I don't like the ignorance. It's not a single time that I've heard jokes about meth cooking or bomb making, neither which I'm not into, even if I know the basic chemistry behind them, and so does every other chemist too.

I like to know. Everything. That's all I have to say.
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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 08:30


It is true the chemistry has its dangers, especially experimental chemistry. Most people fear chemistry because they are sure it deals only with dangerous stuff, the scary "chemicals", but i've had bad looks also from chemistry professors that thought you couldn't do any kind of chemistry if not in a certified laboratory.
Chemistry in general i think has bad stigma, and that puts on us an even worst image as we are doing all that "dangerous" stuff in our homes.

Fear comes from ignorance, chemistry is already pretty unknown to the common guy, and that makes us to his eyes the unpredictable beast that likes to play with dangerous stuff and make stuff outside of his imagination.

If you have bungee jumping as a hobby, people will think you are dangerous to yourself, but if you say that you have as a hobby shooting guns (this example would apply only to europe i think xD) people are going to fear you for what you could do to them.

In general people should be less ignorant about chemistry to not fear us, and we should show them that we are not a threat to anybody





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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 09:03


Quote: Originally posted by chemist1243  

Remember to be polite and not get political.


But there is no point to discuss this point without touching politics.

There are people who dislike spiders. But spiders are not banned. Even the most dangerous species are preserved as a part of natural environment.

Home chemists are a part of natural environment :)

There are poor regions in some countries where state of everything has strong correlation with alcohol consumption. But alcohol is not banned there.

So, if somebody dislike something and it leads society to provide some kind of actions against those who is disliked that is only politics.



[Edited on 22-10-2020 by teodor]
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Ubya
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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 09:07


Quote: Originally posted by teodor  
Quote: Originally posted by chemist1243  

Remember to be polite and not get political.


But there is no point to discuss this point without touching politics.

There are people who dislike spiders. But spiders are not banned. Even the most dangerous species are preserved as a part of natural environment.

Home chemists are a part of natural environment :)

There are poor regions in some countries where state of everything has strong correlation with alcohol consumption. But alcohol is not banned there.

So, if somebody dislike something and it leads society to provide some kind of actions against those who is disliked that is only politics.



[Edited on 22-10-2020 by teodor]


i think chemist1243 was asking a discussion more about what common people think, and less about the restrictions that govs put on us even tho most of the time indirectly





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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 09:19


Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  

i think chemist1243 was asking a discussion more about what common people think, and less about the restrictions that govs put on us even tho most of the time indirectly


Yes, I understand, but I think that the opinion of "common people" is one of part of this game. There are different opinions about everything but some opinions are supported. If I will try to interest children with chemistry I will not be able to recommend any shop where they will be able to buy chemicals for most basic experiments. So, if I will really try to do it in public, like chemistry show, I will get the reputation of half-criminal, kind of "grey person" because what I propose to do could be considered illegal.
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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 10:04


Not a chemist myself. But as a glass blower, I can very much relate to these dilemmas.




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Fyndium
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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 10:27


Drunk and drugged people have loathed my ambitions and consider them uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. I have always remarked that drugs have huge harm potential compared to anything I do.

Other fact is that (drug labs) that are found, 1/8 are discovered when they blow up or start a fire.

General assumption from officials, professors and other common people is that amateurs tend to skip safety and cause danger. For that extent, I can agree that many amateurs seen around everywhere, like Tube, have environments that are a disaster on their own, and a single spill and ignition of a solvent will cause huge issues. Unless one has dedicated, separate spaces for chemistry processes, some reactions should not be performed in living quarters.
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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 11:05


Quote: Originally posted by Fyndium  
General assumption from officials, professors and other common people is that amateurs tend to skip safety and cause danger.


Cars cause danger. But I know how to get a B-license to drive a car being not a professional driver. Is there any way, at least in EU/USA to get a B-license to drive an amateur laboratory? Let's say I am willing to pay some insurance covering possible incidents and generally be responsible, the same way as a car driver. Possible having limit in storage of hazardous substances depending on insurance/ the license type
(L/ml/g). So, from the point of view of society I will be just a usual driver of a laboratory.

And yes, we will get the problem we can discuss WITHOUT politics. It is the opinion of professional chemists about amateur ones.



[Edited on 22-10-2020 by teodor]
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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 12:34



Quote:

Possible having limit in storage of hazardous substances depending on insurance/ the license type (L/ml/g). So, from the point of view of society I will be just a usual driver of a laboratory.


If you need to have an insurance, certifications, pay taxes on your expenses, that is not a hobby anymore.
if you want to do that it's already possible, you need to register a laboratory, have the right inspections, get the right certificates, pay all the insurances and get surprise check every now and then to see that everything is in order. But i don't want to do all of this just to distill some good smelling esters or to make some cool colored compounds





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[*] posted on 22-10-2020 at 12:40


Quote: Originally posted by Ubya  

Quote:

Possible having limit in storage of hazardous substances depending on insurance/ the license type (L/ml/g). So, from the point of view of society I will be just a usual driver of a laboratory.


If you need to have an insurance, certifications, pay taxes on your expenses, that is not a hobby anymore.
if you want to do that it's already possible, you need to register a laboratory, have the right inspections, get the right certificates, pay all the insurances and get surprise check every now and then to see that everything is in order. But i don't want to do all of this just to distill some good smelling esters or to make some cool colored compounds


The point is that it should be difference in running professional and amateur laboratory in both expenses and responsibility. Believe me, I am fine without that. But if people are curious "why some other people consider us as an unpredictable and ill-defined group" the answer is that.

Edit: they were not we, amateurs, who started to make troubles. I also ordered several new alcohols yesterday to make esters, but ordering conc. H2SO4 today I was forced to do it as a company. Damn.

Also, I am a bit sceptical, nor I am 100% sceptical to believe that if country/society doesn't support amateurs it will get good professionals. Destroying possibility to study things when people want to study them society destroys the roots, the future of professional science.

[Edited on 22-10-2020 by teodor]

[Edited on 22-10-2020 by teodor]
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[*] posted on 23-10-2020 at 00:53


On the other hand, when I have said people that I have startup research company, which I technically have, they immediately think that I'm a professional. It's funny how signing a single paper turns everything around. I suppose I should next file for development funding.
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[*] posted on 23-10-2020 at 02:32


Quote: Originally posted by Fyndium  
On the other hand, when I have said people that I have startup research company, which I technically have, they immediately think that I'm a professional. It's funny how signing a single paper turns everything around. I suppose I should next file for development funding.


So, you are like me. I have the ability to buy things as a startup company. But I unable to share my chemical experience with individuals. That barrier (in popularisation of chemistry) is what I am talking about.
The hobby chemistry is based on hobbyist suppliers, shops selling funny things which can support you several years growing in a hobby until it becomes science. Doesn't matter, are you buying your first things with help of parents or somebody else, you and people around you will have the impression you are doing some social, legal things.

On the other hand having reliable suppliers of substances you need will eliminate the need to stockpile some hazardous substance in big quantities in your house/garage.

[Edited on 23-10-2020 by teodor]
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[*] posted on 23-10-2020 at 06:09


Probably the worst thing is that the fear of chemistry and anyone doing it means that you can't do chemistry in some sort of appropriate community/amateur space -- you can build a lab in your backyard, which pisses off the neighbors, but if you wanted to, say, put a lab on a small lot outside of town, you'll have regulators up your ass faster than you can take the packaging off of your Quonset hut kit. This actually makes noncommercial chemistry more dangerous, since it is moved from "the field" into residences and neighborhoods which, in general, are not a very good place to be producing anything, be it chemical, mechanical or otherwise.

These regulations on chemistry exist because in the early days of chemistry people would do stupid polluting things with soluble metal salts and chlorinated organics that persist in the environment forever and create huge dead zones. So for example you can't dissolve cellulose in DBN-AcOH because a hundred years ago some assholes did it in Cu(NH3)4(OH)2 and annihilated a bunch of fish, so now making rayon is "toxic" even if you do it in the harmless way.

And we end up with meaningless categories like "hazardous". Is glacial acetic acid hazardous? It'll burn your eyes, but you could pour a few gallons out in the middle of a pristine forest and sure the plants nearby would die at first but by next year nobody could tell the difference. Copper sulfate on the other hand, you can even touch it safely, but a few crystals will sterilize a lake. Today some people work with copper sulfate because they can't buy sulfuric acid -- which creates more environmental hazard rather than less.

It would be nice, of course, to come up with a set of reasonable standards that could be expected to prevent small labs from creating unnatural disasters. (Suggestion: let people buy whatever organic reagents they want and regulate the metals. I know, I know, nobody cares.)

The vast majority of experiments we consider and perform have practically no chance of destroying any natural environment. But instead we have conservatives who see drugs around every corner and liberals who believe every squirrel is sacred so good luck getting any rules at all relaxed ever. :P




[Edited on 04-20-1969 by clearly_not_atara]
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[*] posted on 23-10-2020 at 08:16


I was once purchasing some bromide salts and other chemicals from a pool supply store, and the clerk asked me why I needed such an unusual collection of chemicals. I was interested at the time in synthesizing liquid hydrocarbons from basic building blocks, so I said that I was performing "green energy" research to make motor fuels on a small scale. Gas was very expensive at the time. He thought this was pretty cool and wanted to hear about it. If you can somehow relate the hobby to something that ordinary people can understand or appreciate then that can give people a positive perception of your interests. Synthesizing various fatty acid esters can be presented as "researching new fragrances and perfumes" for example. People are often afraid of what they don't understand.





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