Skip to comments.Felony Science - Making stuff explode is a seductive way to become a scientist.
Posted on 05/04/2013 4:32:31 PM PDT by neverdem
Sixteen-year-old Kiera Wilmots curiosity was apparently piqued when a friend told her that if you mixed hydrochloric acid and aluminum, an exciting reaction happened. So she did what countless amateur chemists before her have done: She went ahead and tried it. She mixed toilet bowl cleaneressentially colored hydrochloric acidand balls of aluminum foil in a small water bottle. The top of the bottle blew off with a satisfying bang, and there was even a puff of smoke. Unfortunately, Kiera got more excitement than she bargained for. When a teenage Oliver Sacks experimented with explosive reactions of aluminum in his basement 60 odd years ago, he got a life-long love of science and a best-selling book, Uncle Tungsten, out of it. Kiera Wilmot? She was expelled from school and now faces felony charges.
One key difference between Kiera Wilmot and Oliver Sacks lies in Wilmots choice of location and timing for her chemical investigations. She didnt try this in a London basement safely tucked away in a previous century, but on her high school campus a week after another teenager set off an explosion in Boston with catastrophic results. We may worry whether she was really driven by scientific curiosity, or whether this was an attempt to wreak havocor worseat her high school. Is Wilmot a nascent Oliver Sacks or another Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
I dont pretend to have any insight into Wilmots motivations in this particular instance, but having once been a 16-year-old girl passionate about science, I can tell you that doing chemistry that pushes beyond the boundaries of the classroom can be the catalyst that turns a science student into a scientist. Its much like the difference between playing at a recital and getting a chance to perform your latest composition in a local jazz club, an experience that...
(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...
Zero tolerance is for dummies. They want to try her for two felonies as an adult!
Good Grief, I would have been under the jail somewhere. I reached far beyond the limits of my Gilbert Chemistry set.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they banned chemistry completely. After all, everyone knows that the only thing today’s kids need to be educated in is diversity tolerance and how to make people’s genitals feel tingly.
We also lit the hydrogen released to make it "bark". (Not to be confused with a camping trip and methane).
I learned how to make nitrogen triiodide in the basement, experimenting with my chemistry set. When the stuff dries out, it is extremely sensitive. Just touch it and it bursts into flame or explodes if anything is compressing it.
I scattered little particles of it on the high school stairwell, with its metal treads. When it dried out, it made very satisfying bangs and pops when the students came bursting down the stairwell to their next classes. Great excitement was had by all!
I won’t explain how to make it, but it’s pretty simple to do.
But, that was then, and this is now.
Hm, I think some sort of vibrating, fast repeating low-level electrical shock device would do that...
The 50’s and 60’s were a period of near total kid freedom to experiment with Darwinian Selection.....
So we do not need future Scientists for knowledge in explosives. We do not need enchanted minds to further the explosive field and we know all there is to know about explosives. I doubt that! This Girl was just using her mind and knowledge to find more knowledge and was punished for it!
Liberals are quick to say expand the mind of youth but very fast to quash that same mind when it does not fit their PC world.
The Government, and by that I mean States attorneys and even the United States Attorney General love to make an example of people who screw up.
They believe it scares others into line.
It’s a damned shame she got caught in some States Attorneys headlights.
This is the Zimmerman trial in miniature. make an example even if it’s wrong. Poor kid is being Nifonged. One day this Lawyer will be running for public office.
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I guess I should turn myself in... Wow! What we did as kids.
Thank God for the statute of limitations.
No, Zero Tolerance isn't for dummies. It is a POWERFUL weapon being deployed by very smart Marxist educational leaders and aimed at students ( future voters) by armies of Useful Idiots ( misnamed “teachers”).
The carefully crafted goal?
Answer: To create a nation of **DEMORALIZED** citizens who are too befuddled to think rationally enough to defend themselves from the communism that is sure to come. Yuri Bezmenov warned us. We will see this this soon in 5, 10 or 12 years as these students reach voting age.
When will conservatives WAKE UP. Government schooling is a threat to our nation and our freedom. It is EVIL.
Yes, I am shouting, jumping up and down, and having a fit! Why don't others see the danger and feel the urgency to act?
I doubt it. I haven’t seen to much of them lately since their cannonball escapade remodeled a few homes and rebuilt a minivan. I figure the lawyers are trying to work out a settlement with the affected parties.
FWIW a few years ago I had a interaction with one of the principles. I believe it was Jamie the one with the beret and bushy mustache. It was sort of benign but basically I was driving to fencing class down in the Mission district during the early evening. I approached a intersection with no stop sign and I glanced to my left and saw group of people on the sidewalk approaching the intersection from my left.
As I approached they were all talking and laughing together and apparently not paying real close attention to the traffic. They then without hesitation stepped off the curb into the crosswalk right into my path. I hit my brakes and they all glanced toward me for a second, sort of surprised that a car had stopped abruptly. Jamie was at the tail end of the group. I just watched as they crossed my front and shook my head. Technically they had the right of way when they entered the crosswalk but that would have been small consolation if I had plowed into them and hurt or killed one of them.
They were just tempting fate as a lot of pedestrians do in San Francisco and I would have been labeled the bad guy who messed up one of the Mythbusters. Thank God for small miracles I guess.
“But, that was then, and this is now.”
There is no statute of limitations for terrorism.
I bought the instructions from the back pages of Popular Science. The stuff is so sensitive that it went off with a loud bang on the back porch when the front door blew shut! That was very cool stuff.
Also liked the exothermic reaction of glycerine and potassium permanganate. At first I thought it failed, so I tossed it in the HS lab trash. Big mistake! In a few minutes, the entire wastebasket was flaming. Great excitement, indeed.
Charged capacitors can be loads of fun! I’ve pulled off many great pranks with them.
Ah...memories of my 10th grade 'Technical Electronics' class.
"Listen, we clearly admonish viewers to 'not try this at home.'"
Exactly my thought but my best experiments where in the realm of stinky stuff.
Is the TV show “Sons of Guns” on their attack list?
I myself, and just about every other chemist or chemical engineering that I know, would have been barred from the profession by a criminal record if this stupidity had been the law when we were kids.
And the stupid government wonders why there aren’t enough STEM majors....
When I was ten years old my 14-year-old brother made a bomb out of match heads, paper masking tape and an empty soda can. It was the Fourth of July, and he was mad because our dad wouldn’t buy us the “good” fireworks. Bottle rockets, cherry bombs, and things that flew up in the air and went boom. So he put together this bomb with instructions out of a book from Loompanics. It blew out the side of dad’s tool shed and set a tree on fire. Needless to say, daddy gave him a serious whoopin’ for it. Took the belt to him big time.
And she’s BLACK. The dimwit leftists bitch and moan about the “shortage” of black and female scientists.... yet this budding black female scientist is under arrest for doing the SAME THING that just about every white male scientist I know, including myself, did as a child.
Haven’t these loons watched October Sky? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0132477/
Is that the same as the exploding mouse trap?
The Mythbusters always say: “Please, don’t try this at home. We are trained professionals.”
But they always leave out the important part: “However, we will give you step-by-step instructions on how to do it. So if you blow yourself up, your relatives can’t sue us. Because we already gave you the disclaimer, fool!”
Thanks for the link!
I don't care what she looks like, this girl is NOT GUILTY.
As would I have - messing with polybutadiene and ammonium perchlorate. However, where I went to high school was not far from Thiokol Reaction Motors (a.k.a. Morton Thiokol). Add to that my father’s business trips to White Sands.
You said it exactly right!
The prohibition on passing ex post facto laws is still part of the Constitution. Those of us who did that when we were in high school are not subject to recently passed laws that label ordinary high school chemistry as "terrorism" or "a felony".
There were all manner of reagents on the shelf that could have been "abused" when I was in my college chemistry, physics and biochemistry labs. Most of us decided earning the degree outweighed potentially lethal frivolity. The pathogens in the microbiology labs were likewise easy to abuse, but we didn't.
Even with all the care we did exercise, I witnessed a terrible accident in my o-chem lab. One experiment called for the use of chlorosulphonic acid. We needed an acid chloride for the reaction. We were warned to dry the glassware thoroughly as the heat of hydration was significant. Most of use dried out glassware, then heated it over a bunsen burner to drive off any remaining moisture. One young lady decided that level of care wasn't necessary. Bad move. As she decanted the reagent into her glassware, the acid hydrated and sprayed all over her arm. We had bicarbonate of soda to neutralize it, but she panicked and ran for the faucet. The burns on her arms were horrible. She never returned to class.
I certainly did not encounter any exceptions among my fellow chemistry students in college. The list of available noisy and fiery experiments I know have been conducted illicitly by chem students is too long to list -- [and I ain't gonna admit to having conducted any of them... '-) ]
And my interest in such experiments didn't begin in college -- or, even, high school, for that matter...
But, I do hear tell that, when I was in junior high school, a kid could walk into his local drugstore and buy bottles of "Flowers of Sulfur" and "Saltpeter / Potassium Nitrate" -- right off the shelf. And I recall reading in a book fromt our Jr. High library that, many centuries ago, the Chinese figured out the ratio of those two substances and charcoal to make the contents of their fireworks...
Pyrotechnic interest is the "seed" that creates many chemists -- just as "arrowhead hunting" produces most professional prehistoric archaeologists (if they will only own up to it)! '-)
IMHO, criminalizing such curiosity is likely to turn the gifted to criminal acts, whereas guiding and enlightenng that drive can lead to outstanding scientific careers.
IMHO, only lazy, incompetent and fearful dumb@$$3$ espouse "zero tolerance" academic policies.
No telling how many creative geniuses that "PC" idiocy has cost mankind!
The last step in that experiment was to "wash" the Silver Acetylide precipitate with Nitric Acid -- which, of course, destroyed the material.
The brightest students recognized that, if you didn't perform that last step, you had a silvery powder suspended in water that was perfectly safe and quiet -- as long as it stayed wet... '-)
My chemistry set, which I got for Christmas as a child, along with a work bench to set it on, included sulfur, potassium nitrate, and carbon black among the bottled chemicals.
So, I was soon making old-fashioned black powder, before one of my science-interested friends told me about nitrogen tri-iodide. In fact, one of my earliest explosive devices was a doorknob bomb. Easier to put together than a pipe bomb.
I believe there was also a bottle of magnesium powder in my chemistry set, which could be made to do interesting things.