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Author: Subject: The Royal Society’s Wholehearted Endorsement of Hobby Chemistry
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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 06:52
The Royal Society’s Wholehearted Endorsement of Hobby Chemistry


I don’t know if anybody has seen this or not but I came across it the other day and was incredibly pleasantly surprised. It blew my mind that someone as big and well respected as the Royal Chemistry Society would publish such an incredibly positive and realistic article, not only defending home chemistry, but even going so far as to cast things like amateur at-home pyrotechnic and energetic chemistry in a totally positive light!

I’m sharing it as widely as I can, especially to people who don’t understand chemistry or people who aren’t in the community and I think everybody else should as well. In my opinion the single most destructive obstacle facing the independent chemistry community all around the world is overcoming the negative stigmas that have somehow become associated with amateur chemistry to begin with. Part of our mission atLabDIRECT LLC is trying to undo that stigma and I think this article does atheism best job I’ve seen dismantling and exposing those stereotypes as wrongheaded.

Anyway, check it out: Royal Chemistry Society | Hobby Chemistry

And definitely share and post what you think!

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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 08:47


Thats cool.
If they would only endorse organic home chemistry just as much, drug discovery at home is a thing and we need support too.
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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 09:57


Yeah, that article has been around the block here a few times since 2016. A few members here were interviewed for it, namely BromicAcid, blogfast, and PHILOU. It is a nice warm-and-fuzzy read, but unfortunately it doesn’t make up for the bad press that hobby chemistry gets from other news articles and places like r/chemistry. Look no further than blogfast (Gert Meyers). When this article was written he was selling chemicals to hobbyists. A year later, he was imprisoned because some of his pyrotechnic materials ended up in the hands of a terrorist and his home lab was found to violate multiple safety codes. He had been previously warned about that and had ample time to clean up his lab, so I wouldn’t say he was totally innocent, though the severity of his sentencing and the way he was absolutely crucified by the media and public was definitely unwarranted. You can see the whole sordid drama unfold in threads on here, just search for “blogfast” in the subject line.

[Edited on 5-26-2021 by Texium]




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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 11:42


Quote: Originally posted by Texium  
the bad press that hobby chemistry gets from ... places like r/chemistry

r/chemistry? *angry growl* :D

How dare they call themselves chemists!
I know at least a dozen of very valuable drug "cooks" who deserve that label far more than like, five dozen of "chemists" I have worked with...
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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 11:57


Quote: Originally posted by Texium  
Yeah, that article has been around the block here a few times since 2016. A few members here were interviewed for it, namely BromicAcid, blogfast, and PHILOU. It is a nice warm-and-fuzzy read, but unfortunately it doesn’t make up for the bad press that hobby chemistry gets from other news articles and places like r/chemistry. Look no further than blogfast (Gert Meyers). When this article was written he was selling chemicals to hobbyists. A year later, he was imprisoned because some of his pyrotechnic materials ended up in the hands of a terrorist and his home lab was found to violate multiple safety codes. He had been previously warned about that and had ample time to clean up his lab, so I wouldn’t say he was totally innocent, though the severity of his sentencing and the way he was absolutely crucified by the media and public was definitely unwarranted. You can see the whole sordid drama unfold in threads on here, just search for “blogfast” in the subject line.

[Edited on 5-26-2021 by Texium]


Wow, quite the saga. I had no idea - thanks for filling me in. That article made me start digging around a bit more and it really seems since COVID, support for home/amateur chemistry has been growing within the educational and professional communities. The number of articles in support since 2019 has jumped significantly. Take a look at these two other spectacular journal articles on the subject for instance:

Nature | Home Chemistry

Nature | Practical Science at Home...

Hopefully some headway is actually being made.
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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 12:22


All professional chemists I know (the couple of them) float full-time about their high-tech, ultra-high-standard labs and practices, but when I discussed them about actual organic synthesis, they overlooked it by considering it an amateurish bullshit that has nothing to do with actual professional labs. "We only get analysis grade certified reagents, we don't make anything ourselves, like, they did it in the 1800's but nowadays analytical devices and computers do all the modelling and other things".

Like, eh, that's not chemistry. That's having a profession of using highly sophisticated analytical machinery. You don't have to know anything about actual chemical reactions, you just analyze samples against standards.

I fully respect each field, but the overlooking that seems to be following very many professions disgusts me. And the sheer hatred they show upon you if you happen to know their secret-society-kind of sciences and secrets, sometimes even better than themselves. The attitude is that "it is just impossible that someone without masters degree in X could know anything about the subject". I had once-in-a-lifetime chance to beat a professional in their own profession, and I only said that I'm shocked how people with such limited knowledge can pass a degree, and these are the people who are responsible on many critical infrastructural functions.
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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 13:43


Sounds like you know the wrong ones, Fyndium. I wouldn't shit on all professional chemists. Some physical and computational chemists to be sure might struggle with things that synthetic chemists take for granted (true story: my p. chem professor who was fresh out of a post-doc at Berkeley after getting his PhD at MIT seriously couldn't remember how to draw the structure of acetic acid!) but really that's because they're physicists/computer scientists masquerading as chemists. As long as they don't falsely claim to be authorities on experimental chemistry (most who I have met, thankfully, do not) I have no beef with them, as their work is important and often leads to the development of useful things, even though I have no direct interest in it.

There are still plenty of synthetic organic synthetic chemists out there. The lab that I work in is all organic synthesis. There are three other labs that are dedicated to organic synthesis at my university, and now that they finished renovating all the labs on our floor, all four labs will be on the same floor, each occupying a corner, so that it's an entire floor of synthetic chemistry labs. It's really pretty amazing to see so many rooms lined with fume hoods, shelves with thousands of chemicals, and all the glassware you can dream of.




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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 13:56


Quote: Originally posted by Texium  
It's really pretty amazing to see so many rooms lined with fume hoods, shelves with thousands of chemicals, and all the glassware you can dream of.

What are the chances of a video tour?
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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 14:21


It may be possible. I will have to get permission from my PI, but if he doesn't mind, I'd certainly be happy to go in on the weekend when the lab isn't busy and record a short tour to upload to my YouTube channel.



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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 16:01


You really should make a video tour. I for one need to see that.



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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 19:52


yeah ^^ let's see where the (not that long ago) teenaged kid from ScienceMadness is now.

I have no illusions about my synthetic chemistry ever being directly world-changing, but is possible that I might have a grandkid or other young persons interest in science sparked, and that's good enough for me.




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[*] posted on 26-5-2021 at 19:59


Fyndium,
Everyone with a chemistry degree has demonstrated that the knowledge required too obtain that degrees has been,on the whole, understood.
Is a person with a chemistry degree a chemist? CAn a person without a chemistry degree be a chemist?


[Edited on 27-5-2021 by Panache]
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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 03:38


Quote: Originally posted by Panache  
Fyndium,
Everyone with a chemistry degree has demonstrated that the knowledge required too obtain that degrees has been,on the whole, understood.
Is a person with a chemistry degree a chemist? CAn a person without a chemistry degree be a chemist?


[Edited on 27-5-2021 by Panache]


I disagree. Degree doesn't mean that someone have knowledge about chemistry. It's just piece of paper, nothing more. I had colleague with degree in job and she didn't know nothing about chemistry. I don't say that everyone with degree is stupid, just that it doesn't prove anything. Lots of people just obtain degree and forger everything.

Is a person with a chemistry degree a chemist? If he have knowledge, yes.

Can a person without a chemistry degree be a chemist? Of course he can. He just need the will to learn something.




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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 05:22


Quote: Originally posted by Texium  
true story: my p. chem professor who was fresh out of a post-doc at Berkeley after getting his PhD at MIT seriously couldn't remember how to draw the structure of acetic acid!)


A degree only means you sat in a chair in a lecture hall for a few years :P




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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 10:23


I really wish that my country expressed this sort of enthusiasm. Unfortunately, with things like Breaking Bad, the opioid- and meth crisis, our overzealous law enforcement agencies basically equate all hobby chemistry with narcotics production. It is very important to keep detailed logs of your experiments in these guys ever show up at your door and demand to see what you are working on.

@TriflicAcid That reminds me of the story of the number theorist working through whether or not a given two digit number was prime and how laughable it seemed that a titan of the field could be initially stumped by a problem a 5 year old could solve. It seems you don't use too many numbers in number theory :D
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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 10:27


I think if these guys show up at your door, its way too late to show you what you're working on... and saying they "demand to see it" is also not wisely worded.
Because it has nothing to do with you agreeing to it or anything, they will just take it from you and make up some story based on this.
You have nothing to win or benefit from if you talk with those guys either.

If you are at this point, you already missed the very narrow and very slight chance to get off well by showing them in peace what you're doing.
If they are at your door, its already way too late for this.
You can't talk yourself out of it at this point anymore.
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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 10:29


Quote: Originally posted by karlos³  
I think if these guys show up at your door, its way too late to show you what you're working on... and saying they "demand to see it" is also not wisely worded.
Because it has nothing to do with you agreeing to it or anything, they will just take it from you and make up some story based on this.
You have nothing to win or benefit from if you talk with those guys either.

If you are at this point, you already missed the very narrow and very slight chance to get off well by showing them in peace what you're doing.
If they are at your door, its already way too late for this.
You can't talk yourself out of it at this point anymore.
Sure, just go ahead and repeat that myth again in spite of countless examples that contradict it.



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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 11:06


Is that a myth, really?
Please show me countless examples that contradict it!
I would be happy to change my thoughts and opinions about it.

"Knocking on your door" equals to me, as an european, cops with a search warrant(sometimes without it, just trying).
Because nobody else comes knocking at your door here when you're running a lab at home.
Only the cops.

E: please take in mind that my friends and me are making drugs as a hobby.
At this point, we think different to people who just do harmless nonsuspicious chemistry for fun.
Because we have something to hide.
For us, at that point, not even a well written lab notebook would help in most cases... the opposite even, as it would be counted as proof, despite it being mostly harmless experiments.
Us drug chemists are, mostly, fucked at that point.
The only scenario to get out would be a stupid detective and a mouthwork thats running as fast and fluent like a river in the mountains.
If you are lucky.
I would think its the same for energetic home chemistry.

If it is different in the states, wow, ok, I'll accept that but I am really perplexed that more than as much people as I got fingers on one hand got out of such a situation.
I thought it would be just a few cases.
But countries and how they handle such things are very different, here, in europe, my country, nobody will come to ask first about your hobby, even if you're nonsuspicious, they will kick your door in and steal everything, and if you offer them your lab notebook hoping it will drive them away and leave your stuff at your place, then you're wrong.
Nobody comes here first, its the cops, or nobody.
Plenty of examples for exactly the opposite of what you describe.

So I wouldn't call it a myth, more like "typical local folklore" maybe? :P
If you have an example of an european who got away by showing his notebook, with the intent that the cops drop their job and just apologize and leave...
Please, I really want to see it.
Because I have dozens of examples of the opposite, german chemistry boards are full of that.
And not a single example of it being simply ditched by presenting a record of your experiments.

So if its a myth, please recognise that our members here don't all live in the states, and that laws and thus the cops can interpret the laws completely different depending on the location.

[Edited on 27-5-2021 by karlos³]
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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 11:59


I agree with karlos. In my European country the typical way how cops will do it will be kicking the doors out at 6.00 AM. There will be at least one chemist with them as they know that there is a lab and something may explode (or the people inside will try to do something with any evidence of drug manufacturing). They will take whatever they want, they will take the samples from literally everything and take you with them. Then if story will not satisfy them you will get some holidays paid by government. If the analysis finds any traces of illegal substances or precursors you have a problem. If not they will (or they should) return all things to you. If you don't do anything illegal you may have problem with someone "ambitious" who already took a care of their success and dropped some white crystalline powder on the floor.

On the other hand I've read that one home lab was raided and they didn't take anything. They had Raman spectroscope and checked on-site every bottle, flask and test tube. Haven't found anything they said "goodbye" and gone.
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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 12:06


My lawyer said back then, I should ditch all of my possessions to make a good impression... another friend of mine, same country(Olaf Lichtenberger, he's dead now, so I can name him) fought with his lawyer to get his possessions back... which took several years, but they handed him everything back.

I think most lawyers tell their clients to hand their stuff over, to make a remorseful impression and thus affect their final outcome positively.

Hey, any europeans remember that german based shop who sold, besides lots of other stuff, also GBL?
They kicked the doors in of EVERYBODY who ever bought anything of that shop, partly even only teenagers in their rooms at their parents home, and of all the several hundred(or even thousands) of home searches, they could make a handful of cases... because some were actually making drugs or explosives.
I forgot the name of that shop, but anyone affected will definitely remember, even twenty years later.
On versuchschemie.de, it felt like every second member was affected by this.
Later they searches were deemed illegal, but hell, at this point everything has already happened, what should they do, apologize or what?
As if they ever apologize for any unlawful action... wherever that might be.


Quote:

On the other hand I've read that one home lab was raided and they didn't take anything. They had Raman spectroscope and checked on-site every bottle, flask and test tube. Haven't found anything they said "goodbye" and gone.

Thats cool, but honestly, barely believable from my own experiences :o
Do you know the country?
I wish they would do it like this everywhere.

*holding raman into the air in the lab* *ping* "oh its amphetamine! Bill, go get the handcuffs!" :D

[Edited on 27-5-2021 by karlos³]
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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 12:35


All right, so my brother in law is a police officer and here's what he has to say:

No lawyer on the planet would advise you to let the police into your home, especially into lab where they probably don't know what they're looking at. Police by default work on behalf of the prosecution and are there to look for evidence of a crime. You are in no way helping yourself by showing them a bunch of stuff you legally didn't have to.

Your best interest is to ALWAYS refuse a search. Be polite, but absolutely make them get a warrant or ensure probable cause is on record. Don't get in their way or be combative, let them do their thing. If the grounds upon which the cause/warrant were issued are bunk, the whole case gets thrown out. If you willingly let them in and they decide they don't like what they see, this defense is lost.

Anything you say will be used against you in court. NEVER talk to the police without a lawyer present if you are in any way involved. This includes things unrelated to the case. The prosecution can attempt a character assassination if you say anything on record that even remotely contradicts itself, primarily to cast doubt on exculpatory testimony you may have provided. Any statements you give should be submitted in writing by your lawyer.

The 5th amendment is your friend. The judge/prosecution CANNOT learn that you refused a search or refused to give information or there will be a mistrial. You cannot be punished for refusing a search.
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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 12:37


To be clear, I don't know whether Newton 2.0 is in Europe or somewhere else, and I was mainly annoyed that you would add that comment without knowing where he is, because it is very different outside of Europe. In the US and Australia, for instance, if you have your notebook in order, your lab doesn't look like a total deathtrap, and you aren't making drugs, then you really have nothing to worry about. See arkoma, Tdep, and j_sum1 for examples, though I know that there were others with similar experiences who aren't coming to mind for me right now.

I'll concede that things are probably worse in Europe. I have heard mixed accounts from the UK. For example, blogfast got multiple warnings that he was in violation of laws before he was arrested. It wasn't kick the door down, no questions asked. On the other hand, I know another member in the UK who was arrested (though fortunately not charged with anything) over simply ordering some oxidizers on eBay. But to be honest, if you're making controlled substances, it's on you to accept the risk of legal consequences, wherever you live. I'm not saying that the drug laws are morally right and you're wrong, but if you're knowingly violating the law, you don't really have a leg to stand on if it comes back to bite you. It's a different matter entirely from people who just want to make dyes, fragrances, or random compounds with interesting structures, assuming that home chemistry is not outright banned where they live.

Mainly I just don't like when people assume that their local experience must be applicable globally, and through that, propagate misinformation that could potentially scare newcomers away from home chemistry who live in an area where it is actually safe to practice it.




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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 13:05


The local sheriff has come to my (wide open) front door asking about something down the street. My organic lab is maybe 15 feet from the door in plain sight...............

I answered the deputies question, we bid each other good day, and he left.

Now mind you, I live in small, small, small town USA, and this is probably very much the exception. I AM careful about things that are on F-ing the tattle-tale list to LEO, as I do enjoy "dancing around the edge"; I've not, and plan not, gone further than certain nitro**yrenes, but don't need a visit to see if my end uses are copacetic.

BUT, I still keep my log, and samples of my (usually crappy) synthetic efforts. Interesting chemistry is not a crime!




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[*] posted on 27-5-2021 at 15:00


Thank you for clarifying, and yeah, I should have putten that into consideration :)
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[*] posted on 30-5-2021 at 13:47


Well, EMT/Fire (I live in the US) came to my house and saw my garage and said that the hobby looked pretty cool! I guess it wasn't too alarming.

I try to make sure it looks neat and orderly, that everything is labeled and organized in the safest manner I can think of/afford, and I keep all scheduled narcotics safely in my body where they belong.
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