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Thursday, April 5, 2018

I was not going to write a post today, but then…



On the way to Laura’s gig, assisting Mrs. P with an art class of active youngsters:

“We had a lab in chemistry today. We put a penny in nitric acid. The reaction releases a toxic gas, so we stoppered the flask, and put in a glass tube to another stoppered flask filled with water.”

“What noxious gas was released?”

“Sulfur.”

“I just read an article this morning, some university study says there can be no alien life to be found due to the lack of sulfur in the atmosphere! Perhaps you should have released it outdoors.”

“Oh, wait, it’s nitrogen dioxide that’s released. You know, NO2.”

“And I’m wrong, too; it’s phosphorus that’s lacking. You know, P.”

“Then we did homework until the reaction completed.”

“What did you have then?”

“We weighed the penny again. It lost 1.3 grams of mass. Half its mass.”

“No longer legal tender, then?”

“Oh, no. But it looked the same and was very shiny.”



29 comments:

  1. This rather reinforces why I was an English major.

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  2. I think I learned a few things here.

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  3. I suspect that the very shiny penny would pass for legal tender. And I am sure there is an analogy there.

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  4. At least she tells you about what she does at school. She sounds like such a neat kid!! Like a bright, shiny penny herself. -Jenn

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  5. Kids keep us on our toes... whether their our own or not. That's one of the reasons I don't think elderly housing works that well. I think ages need to mixed to enjoy each other.

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  6. Hari OM
    Hehehe... I can hear it all being thought aloud between you... YAM xx

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  7. They give the kids access to nitric acid? Nitric acid is the base for almost all of the modern explosives and propellants. Add glycerine to it and it becomes nitro-glycerine. I wish I had gone to a school like that.

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    Replies
    1. 'Smokeless' gunpowder is nitric acid and cellulose.

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  8. I’m surprised about the kids using nitric acid. More than my chemistry could do at that age! Kids these days and their chemistry experiments!

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  9. Years ago we put a penny in Coca Cola and they came up shiny it doesn't work any more, our pennies are now cents and I formula for coke has most likely changed.
    Merle...............

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  10. "....and the struggle for the legal tender.." Jackson Browne...I spent a night in the same cell with him in or around 82 thereabouts, after a demonstration at Lawrence Livermoore lab east of Oakland....nothing to do with your post, sorry.

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    Replies
    1. I neglected to add, most every Saturday includes a stop at the bank to deposit her paychecks.

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  11. All sorts of wrong procedures existed in this experiment. My chemist/physics husband. The inner flask could possibly burst with the pressure. Then the second flask would also have the pressure and burst as well. Water acts as a coolant but could combine with the agents released.

    More than you wanted to know.

    I think the penny destruction will be overlooked by the Treasury.

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    1. Fortunately someone else was in charge.

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  12. that had to be one dirty penny to lose that much mass!

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  13. Almosrt 60 years later, I still have nightmares about Chenistry class. I knew about as much when the course was over as I did when it began. The only thing that got me through was my good memory.

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  14. Laura knows and you remember far more chemistry than I ever learned. It was my favourite subject but we only got one term of it and didn't learn much.

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  15. I sincerely hope sulphur isn't toxic, as I'm consuming it all the time. It's used in a whole range of foods as a preservative.

    I guess the penny would still be legal tender if you handed it to a cashier, but it would probably be rejected as the wrong weight if you tried it in a vending machine.

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  16. Coke is still acid enough to clean pennies..phosphoric acid? I used to buy "Jenolite" to clean off rusty metal before re-painting...same stuff.
    Good conversations

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  17. I went to a convent school where the nuns thought chemistry and physics weren't suitable for girls, so we didn't do interesting things like this. I do know how to darn socks, though.

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  18. I had to take chemistry to fulfil my science requirements in high school. don't remember taking chem lab, just the classroom part which was all math and no calculators, just a slide rule. I only passed because my teacher took pity on me and gave me a D on my final exam. I was the last one still in the room determined to take every minute allowed me to work out those formulas. she was ready to leave, asked me if I would settle for a D (yes!). she didn't even grade my exam. just marked it with a D right then.

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  19. I signed up for chemistry as a senior in high school. Did not need the credits. I went to one class. Looked at the textbook. Saw all that math! I signed up to work in the library during that period. As often happens, that turned out for the best. I worked in the library for a year. Have used that experience, familiarity with the library setup, my entire life. Also, the school librarian was very instrumental in getting me a scholarship, without which I would never have been able to attend college to become a teacher. We never know.......

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  20. Interesting experiment.

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