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Author: Subject: The moment (or moments) that made you realize you had a passion for chemistry

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[*] posted on 9-3-2018 at 20:26
The moment (or moments) that made you realize you had a passion for chemistry

Hey everyone :)

I have read threads about what jobs people have on this forum but I wanted to start one that was solely about the passion for chemistry or science in general. What is it that got to your soul that made it light a fire for you to pursue chemistry either as a hobby and/or a job?

I feel like it is also a way of life.

And what is it that keeps you interested?

What do you wish would change in the field?
Or in the general view people as a whole have on it? (Besides breaking bad and the mainstream media outlets talking about terrorist attacks or meth lab raids I don't think chemistry is brought to people's attention that often. )
It has somewhat gained a notoriety as we all know as almost something forbidden to actually learn just for the sake of learning itself.

I want to hear any and all things that relate chemistry and your passion with it.

I love hearing people talk about what THEY love.

What is your story?

~Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven conscious of his fleeting time here~

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[*] posted on 9-3-2018 at 21:03

There are many credits to my love of chemistry. A "Perfect storm" of sorts.
I first ventured into real home chemistry in grade 8. I did a science fair project on how lithium reacts with different liquids. (Vinegar, salt water of various concentrations, hydrogen peroxide, hot water, ice water, etc.) I did the reaction in a fume hood at school, but extracted the lithium from the batteries following Nurdrage. I don't know how I got this idea, but I did...

I didn't do anything on chemistry for the next year and a bit, my passion became metalwork. However, my metalwork, (and specifically metal casting) on youtube gave me the recommended video, one of cody'slab's "Precious metal refining".I watched a lot of his videos, but didn't really focus too much on the chemistry part. I was more interested in the metalwork aspect.

However, a job that I was working on with my dad was the third catalyst. I found, (in a crawlspace) and was given, a giant box of silver spoons in early grade ten. After viewing cody's videos, I got the brilliant idea to refine the silver out of them. (Obviously, since they weren't even close to pure silver, it wouldn't have worked worth a damn but what did I care?) I started watching videos on silver refining, and a lot on making nitric acid. I bought a simple distillation apparatus from amazon, found some graduated cylinders and beakers in thrift stores, and tried to gather as much as I could. All the while, I was watching (Through the youtube recommended tabs) NileRed, Nurdrage, Doug'sLab, Chemplayer, etc. I never actually tried to refine the materials out of them... The spoons are still sitting in a box in my bedroom.

That same year, I made quite good friends with the chemistry teacher at my school, who let me stay in his lab while I waited for the bus. He taught me lab techniques, and even left reactions out for me to do after school 1 on 1. He was probably the fourth main reason.

Soon, I kicked my mother out of her small stained-glass shed and turned it into my lab, (She was happy to be moved inside to the heated ex-dining room for her glass.) and i've been doing chemistry, (focusing on organics) there ever since. I'm actually not entirely sure how it happened, writing it all out like this it seems so unlikely that any of this would amount to anything... but it did!

I'm very interested to hear other people's stories, if they have them!

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[*] posted on 10-3-2018 at 02:06

In all honesty? I read The Anarchist's Cookbook circa 1998, and concluded that understanding chemistry could allow one to wield enormous power. Around that time, various apocalyptic scenarios were commonly discussed, and being able to fashion weapons out of society's refuse seemed to be at the top of the list of useful skills. Oh, and I also quite enjoyed McGyver.

I also filled a balloon with hydrogen, attached a slow-burning fuse to it, and let it go at night. A nice little flash could be seen. The next one had some oxygen added from my dad's torch, and that one was more impressive. :D

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[*] posted on 10-3-2018 at 02:26

My 'story to chemical passion' was definitely more gradual than that Melgar!

Funnily enough it all started out with Lego for me. My sister had suggested I make a YouTube account and make videos on my lego, being a 10 year old at this time. One of the channels I then consequently watched for lego videos made a video on a video game, Minecraft, and I found this game super fascinating. The ores and metals and wiring in the game, as I watched videos without even getting the game for a year, really hooked me. (I know I am a huge nerd, but are we not all?)

Along with science at school (I did not really have a favourite science at this time) this got me after a few years interested in all sorts of YouTube science channels. I began watching physics channels such as minutephysics, chemistry videos such as crazyrussianhacker (way before he turned into a item review channel), biology, and general science and maths channels such as Vsauce.

Biology at GCSE (when I was 15-16) became my favourite science, but I was always better at chemistry. I had began to watch more and more chemistry videos without even realising, and even when I did signifcantly better in my chemistry exams in GCSE than biology.

When A-Level turned (16-17), in which I started and still am studying biology, chemistry and mathematics, I found myself enjoying chemistry more and more. After watching a bunch of videos on different channels takes on the simple alkali metals in water again, such as Periodic Videos, I thought I must get hold of some sodium. I bought just a small container of 1g of sodium, but I thought the sodium was so cool and it blew my mind to see a metal fizzing and shooting around, reacting with water!

From here it was a chemistry set for christmas (when I knew a decent amount of chemistry so I just manipulated all of the chemicals and equipment for my needs), where it had a small container of copper(II) sulfate(VI). I had seen many channels growing these crystals, such as Thoisoi2, and decided to upgrade from the measly 4g the set had and bought 250g of the georgeous blue crystals.

From here it is history, I suppose the saying goes. I think growing copper(II) sulfate(VI) crystals was my turning point, and since then (a little over a year) I have gotten a place to study chemistry at uni and have been expanding my home lab bigger and bigger, and watching more and more YouTube channels (such as NileRed, Nurdrage, Doug'sLab, Chemplayer, etc as mentioned by Vosoryx above).

It makes me sad to think that YouTube seems to be getting into a worse and worse state, as the inspiration I think for many of us chemistry wise has been kindled by many brillant science YouTube channels. Especially as chemistry seems to be looked down on more and more negatively, especially with terrorist attacks, drugs, etc. (because of that I hate Breaking Bad, the amount of people who first refer to my lab as a meth lab as a joke infuriates me).

I am very interested to read anybody elses stories as well. (even if for times sake we have to cut and shorten our stories dramatically such as I did here, not even mentioning my partner's massive influence on my chemistry with how acceptive she was of it, being a history of art student who originally hated, but now loves, chemistry)

Yep, I have a chemistry blog!

"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 10-3-2018 at 14:21

For me, it all started with a neighbor.

He told me about a game called Minecraft. I installed it and made a house in creative mode. Not long after I stumbled upon "Galacticraft", a minecraft mod. It was all about making rockets and travelling though the cosmos. I then discovered that Youtube has many minecraft channels which showcase mods.

After a bit of experimenting with different "scientific" mods for minecraft, I got to 6th grade. Thus I began studying physics. I really enjoyed it so I started watching scientific youtube videos (from Vsauce and many others).

When I got to 7th grade, I started studying chemistry. I didn't like it as my teacher wasn't very good. I even got a bad grade for saying that nitric acid is HNO4 (ouch...). During this year, physics was still my main passion.

However, at the start of 8th grade things changed. Somehow, NileRed's video on the iodine clock rxn popped up in my recommended on youtube. After seeing this video, I started watching a lot more chemistry videos from Nilered. Eventually, youtube funneled me to NurdRage, ChemPlayer, Doug'sLab etc. . Seeing all these wonderful reactions, I learned a lot more about chemistry. For some reason, I have never done any lab session in my chemisty class. All was just theory.

In any case, wanting to do these reactions myself, I convinced my mom to buy a few beakers, erlenmeyers, pippettes, graduated cylinders and a scale from an online chemistry lab supplier. After they arrived, I dragged my mom though different stores to find the required tincture of iodine, distilled water, starch and hydrogen peroxide. Following that, I did the iodine clock reaction. I also tried boiling down the black solution that remained afterwards and was amazed at the wonderful purple smoke that came out of the beaker. I put a watchglass on the beaker on which there was a block of ice so that a few tiny, smelly crystals of iodine formed.

After this unforgettable evening, my passion for chemistry became unstoppable. I quickly learned a lot about both organic and inorganic chemistry. I also started accumulating glassware and chemicals form allover. I started doing some personal research on making ferrates and permanganates as well, whose results have been promising. I introduced my chemistry teacher to all of this by doing the iodine clock in front of her eyes. It went very well. She started to let me use the school's lab and dug up some old chemicals from the communist era just for me (mercury II chloride, cadmium acetate, nickel sulfate, tin II chloride just to name a few). She also let me use silver nitrate as a catalyst for a persulfate oxidation (taken from woelen's blog).

In conclusion, my passion to chemistry is attributed to a neighbor, galacticraft's creator, NileRed and youtube in general. Just as 18thTimeLucky? , seeing chemistry youtubers being prosecuted by youtube saddens me greatly. A great help was my country's relaxed attitude towards chemistry. Only a few useful chemicals are hard to find: KMnO4, acetic anhydride, red P, hydrochloric acid and all chemicals obtained from pottery stores (CoO, MnO2, NiCO3).

[Edited on 10-3-2018 by CobaltChloride]
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[*] posted on 11-3-2018 at 13:51

That moment for me was when I was about ten years old
and had made my very first primary cell. The recipe for it
is in the old book "The Boy Electrician" written by Alfred P. Morgan.

The book details many various types of cells.

The easiest for me to construct and test as my first one
was the LeClanche cell. That one uses a solution of
Ammonium Chloride dissoved in water as the electrolyte.

The positive electrode is carbon, the negative electrode is

The first time I mixed up one of those, then put the leads
from my dad's vacuum-tube voltmeter across the terminals
and watched the needle go right up to 1.4 something volts,
that was the moment.

"Opportunity is missed by most people
because it is dressed in overalls and it
looks like work" T.A. Edison
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[*] posted on 11-3-2018 at 14:06

My curiosity about things mechanical and electrical started just before my dad died when I was about 4. We had a small box of pipe fittings laying around. I spent a lot of time Screwing/unscrewing them. We also had about a 3 foot long electrical pigtail, a plug with 3 wires. I really wanted to plug this into a wall socket but my mother told me not to. I did it anyway causing an electric arc and a loud crack.

[Edited on 11-3-2018 by Magpie]

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[*] posted on 11-3-2018 at 15:08

I suppose my passion was born out of doing (at the time) cool stuff with household ingredients and bits that I found in the garage when I lived in Australia. Since I didn’t know much chemistry at the time, my first ventures were actually somewhat dangerous because these were obviously thrilling to do. Making hydrochloric acid from table salt and sulphuric acid extracted from an old car battery, constructing ‘sparkler bombs’ that I set off with a mate, trying to extract compounds from plants using petrol, and after discovering a propane torch with two full tanks in a cupboard, melting stuff like lead sinkers and NaCl. After I moved house and discovered that shops sell some neat reagents, that’s when my chemistry interest really took off, most notably the synthesis of chloroform using calcium hypochlorite, methylated spirits, and lye, although I had to put the practical side on hold for a while when I had an unfortunate accident, where my mother knocked over a cup containing the crude solution and suffered slight burns to her leg from the NaOH, but it wasn’t anything serious. From there it just continued really, having now moved to the UK and with a bank account, I was ordering reagents and glassware left right and centre to continue exploring syntheses, and here we are today, with school chemistry qualifications under my belt and a newfound knowledge set.

In chemistry, sometimes the solution is the problem.

I am now training to manufacture contact lenses for a living. Time to join the lab community!
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[*] posted on 11-3-2018 at 16:41

my passion for chemistry started so long ago that i can't even remember the exact moment, it has been always a part of me. my parents told me that when i was really young (1-3 years) i annoyed them with questions about everything, how does that thing work, why does this do that etc. when i was 4 i got diagnosed with bradycardia so i needed a pacemaker. my parents never hid from me what i had (the doctors thought it was better if i knew nothing) so my curiosity for what i had grew. i started to draw human skeletons and anatomical representations of the human body (organs, muscles, etc), and in general i started to think of how things work, how to manipulate them, how to turn something in something else. i remember young me building or modifying toys to make them do other stuff. i don't know exactly when but maybe between 6 and 8 i started loving chemistry,the power of building molecules, turning a compound into another and the magic of colored solutions, crystals, explosives (yes kid me liked to make bombs hahahaha). when my parents bought me a child chemistry kit i got super excited (i was 8 but the kit was for 12 years old), it had copper sulphate and cobalt chloride (cobalt!?!?! yes now i know hahahaha), in just a few days i completed all the experiences written in the manual, so i started to experiment by myself with stuff from around the house, vinegar, my mom pills, hydrogen peroxide etc. i did a mess hahahaha
and from then i experimented with everything, thinking how i could use normal products, reading the ingredients for every cleaning product or solvent, i started to think like a chemist,
when my mom buys bleach i see sodium hypochlorite, drain cleaner? =hydrochloric acid, and so on for every product

feel free to correct my grammar, or any mistakes i make
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[*] posted on 12-3-2018 at 17:35

You guys and girls thank you for the replies these are awesome!

I always wanted to learn chemistry I even remember tinkering with the colored liquid soap dropping in water and seeing it fall and make a colored shape that looked like an atomic bomb mushroom cloud. I guess now realizing I was playing with liquids of different densities or at least what looked like it. This was when I was at least 4 when my parents would give me a bath.

I love hearing about people talking about what they love and why. I love that MacGyver style inspired mindset. And I wish the part about Breaking Bad that had that feeling of solving problems with chemistry were in more films and shows, even it wasn't all stuff that was realistic it was closer than most if any modern shows.

I too really hate it when I have a friend over and they see my lab for the first time and all the reagents and immediately connect it with breaking bad and the illicit production of drugs. I won't get into politics as this forum is not about it but I think it's an inadvertent consequence on "the war on drugs" which has backfired to hard it's ridiculous.

I always try when I can to make chemistry appear the a good light when a conversation pops up about something that can be related to chemistry.

But please I don't want to turn this thread into something else I want to focus on what you love and why.

It is so wonderful to hear your stories and I am excited to hear more.

And yeah it is funny every time I see a parent or friend get some household product, all I see is what compounds are in it. Bar Keepers Friend = Oxalic Acid, Drain Cleaner= NaOH, or aqueous KOH depending on the brand , and H2SO4 if it is an acid based cleaner. I love just walking around hardware stores and looking at the the ingredients on the container and just love seeing unexpected compounds listed.

I remember after first learning about ionic compounds and cations/anions and looking at all the products in medicine sections in places like CVS seeing all the forms of Magnesium like it's Citrate, Hydroxide, etc

I had the biggest rush from now knowing what the ingredients meant I must of looked crazy to someone else in the isle with me lol.

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[*] posted on 12-3-2018 at 17:39

I too also partially got interested from Cody from Cody's Lab videos of refining precious metals. I love the explanation he used for the process of inquarting gold with silver to bring the percentage down before treating it with Nitric Acid to convert the Silver to AgNO3 while leaving the Gold behind by using a video he made with MineCraft

I thought that was genius and funny at the same time!

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[*] posted on 12-3-2018 at 18:24

My dad was head of a laboratory that was doing stem cell research in the 70's and 80's. He sometimes went to work in the weekends, and I got to join him whenever I could and I found the lab an incredibly interesting environment. There were lasers, computers (remember these were the 70's/80's. Access to computers was rare), vats of algae bubbling away, radioactive materials, and electron microscopes and lots of stuff I could not understand as a 10-year old but that I found endlessly fascinating.
I also tremendously enjoyed talking with him on the way there in the car. I vividly remember how he explained Darwins theory of evolution. I intuitively felt that it was 'right' immediately, but I struggled to accept the timescale at which evolution happens. In hindsight, I can see how he must have enjoyed my being interested.
Without any doubt, he noted and stimulated my interest in the natural sciences. Today, I enjoy reading and being able to understand his papers in scientific journals from those days when I was little (and before), understanding now what questions were on his scientific mind at that time.

[Edited on 13-3-2018 by phlogiston]

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[*] posted on 13-3-2018 at 16:21

Glow sticks. I was about fourteen and got ahold of what was then a hot new consumer item; the neon green glow stick. It was pure magic. After a bit of waving it about I cut it open and sprinkled the glowing liquid all over the back yard.

Eventually it became a more intellectual exercise, but my heart has never forgotten the joy of dancing in the moonlight with the old pagan gods. :-)

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[*] posted on 26-3-2018 at 02:15

We were originally inspired by watching videos too!

Watch some vintage ChemPlayer:
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[*] posted on 26-3-2018 at 11:23

I stopped drinking for a week. It was an eye-opener !

Engineering, Chemistry and Medicine all suddenly became really attractive subjects to study.

Luckily the first website i came across that sold chemicals (and sounded good) was run by blogfast25.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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