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Author: Subject: Bristol University students evacuated from chemistry school after 'unstable substance' made
mayko
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 09:36
Bristol University students evacuated from chemistry school after 'unstable substance' made


Bristol University students evacuated from chemistry school after 'unstable substance' made

Quote:

Police have also put up a cordon around the road and it is set to affect the adjacent Woodland Road.

A spokesman from the university said: "Our chemistry building has been evacuated as a precaution due to an unstable substance being manufactured.

"The substance is being disposed of safely and we are working with the fire brigade to ensure the building is safe."

Ambulance have also been called to the scene.


http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/bristol-university-students-and...

I wonder what it was? :o





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Amos
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 09:55


A newer article on the incident: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bristol-university-chem...

someone on social media claims it was TATP.... and 90 grams of it???
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plante1999
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 10:16


"accidentally".. 90g..

I find that very doubtful. Making 90g of anything accidentally in a laboratory is dubious. Even making an accidental 90g of sodium chloride is beyond believable. If you have any idea of what you are doing, it should be obvious what the side products will be, and the quantity.




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Amos
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 10:26


Quote: Originally posted by plante1999  
"accidentally".. 90g..

I find that very doubtful. Making 90g of anything accidentally in a laboratory is dubious. Even making an accidental 90g of sodium chloride is beyond believable. If you have any idea of what you are doing, it should be obvious what the side products will be, and the quantity.


I was preparing a much more stable organic hydroperoxide at work and my supervisor suggested I might want to add acetone to the mixture, which contained mostly 35% hydrogen peroxide, to help my nonpolar substrate dissolve. He wasn't joking. So I could follow how one might unknowingly introduce some acetone to such a reaction.
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Praxichys
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 10:55


Wow, incredible. Seems someone let hydrogen peroxide and acetone cross paths in a large way. I wonder what they were doing?

EDIT: I wonder if maybe someone dumped acetone into the piranha solution waste bin or something dumb...

[Edited on 3-2-2017 by Praxichys]




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plante1999
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 11:06


In any way, there is strong lack of competency. At some point I had to talk with a Dr. in organic chemistry (Ph.D) that didn't even know the haloform reaction at all. I had to show the mechanism.. I'm not saying people should know everything, but shouldn't people that work in laboratories at least know basic chemistry and/or safety procedures? Oxidizer kept separate, acids, solvents, etc..

I sometime honestly wonder what they teach in higher studies.




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Praxichys
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 11:17


This happens all the time where I work. Our system of education hones people to become test-takers. You cram the knowledge in, puke it back up onto a test, earn the credentials, and forget it after the final exam.

I had to explain KE=.5mv^2 to a degreed mechanical engineer where I work so she could determine the kinetic energy of a projectile, and she was only 5 years out of college. I really don't think a bachelor's degree these days means what it used to 15 years ago. I only wish that companies could recognize this. I'm sure many of us would have better jobs.

[Edited on 3-2-2017 by Praxichys]




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aga
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 14:22


Education is very valuable.

Practice and Experience with that education makes an Expert, in whatever field.

A degree, PhD etc just prove the information was once touched on.

Give me an enthusiastic self-educating amateur over a bored/boring graduate any day.

[Edited on 3-2-2017 by aga]




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WGTR
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 14:25


A college degree tells a prospective employer that the graduate can successfully apply him/herself towards a particular goal for however many years down the road, and accomplish it. Also, that the individual is capable of learning, being trained, writing papers, and is familiar with a subject. The real learning happens in the workforce, after graduation.

Whenever we hire electrical engineers out of college, they basically do technician work for a year or so, and that's for the ones that we trust with a soldering iron. Some of them would undoubtedly poke their eye out if you trusted them a hot, sharp, pointed object. They don't remain at that level of incompetence, however; they learn pretty quickly, at least the ones that last.

There are people who enjoy their field as a hobby, and those who enjoy it because it makes them a ton of money. I think the latter group probably isn't as motivated to learn more than what success in their field requires.

The higher one goes in college, the more focused the schooling becomes. I've also talked with Ph.D. types who really didn't know the basics, because it's just not related to what they worked on. If they needed to learn these things for work, they are smart enough to pick them up.

One thing about organic chemistry, is that it's likely to hurt you if you smart mixing random stuff together. It takes a certain amount of humility for a "well-educated" person to recognize that they don't have training in a particular area, and ask for help (especially from a much "lesser educated" person).

edit: Umm...yeah..what aga said...


[Edited on 2-3-2017 by WGTR]




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DraconicAcid
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[*] posted on 3-2-2017 at 15:32


I've known supposedly well-trained grad students and post-docs to be absolute disasters in the lab. One guy (known only as "Rick the Dick") tried doing a condensation reaction with acetylene and some other organic stuff, and go a black tarry mess. Undaunted, he extracted it with ether, and wound up using thirty litres of ether, which he then left sitting on the bench in large flasks for the next week while he pondered what to do about it. He eventually claimed the reaction was a success.

Later in his career, he did have an explosion in the lab- they show the remains of his lab jack to incoming grad students, as a warning.




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[*] posted on 8-2-2017 at 23:50


Humph....yesterday our student got a staining protocol and asked me to help him. One step is antigen retrieval with a solution of methanol and hydrogen peroxide (30%). He asked me what to do with the solution? My standard phrase was to put it in the non-halogenated solvent waste...err not so a good idea, because there can be acetone in it and perhaps acid, too.

Shit happens faster then you can think.....and then you have problems...

Luckily its only a volume of less then 200 ml....so it can go in the sewer with plenty of water....other solution would be, putting it slowly to a diluted solution of potassium permanganate to destroy the hydrogen peroxide.

Bj68
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anewsoul
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[*] posted on 15-2-2017 at 12:58


Here's a recent article about how the student accidentally made TATP:

http://cenblog.org/the-safety-zone/2017/02/how-a-student-uni...

The student was following a procedure that required adding hydrogen peroxide to remove a yellow color from an acetone solution. He apparently was concentrating too much on removing the color and added way more peroxide than was supposedly needed but then realized his mistake when a lot of precipitate formed. He reported it immediately instead of trying to cover it up so that was a good thing on his part.
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