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"The best years of our lives," somebody lied. Tell us the funniest thing that ever happened at school.

(, Thu 29 Jan 2009, 12:19)
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Chemistry lesson
When I was but a young and impressionable Snabblim, our Chemistry teacher was a maniac Yorkshireman, who rejoiced in the moniker of Jack Tat.

On entering the lab one day, we saw a large sheet of perspex erected as a shield across the front of the teachers bench. Behind this was a bunsen burner tripod, and on this was a large tin can with a long piece of magnesium ribbon coming out of it. The whole was stood in a metal tray with about half an inch of sand in the bottom.

After the usual boring preamble, the class gathered that we were about to be shown a demonstration of the thermit reaction (google it for details). This was a VERY DANGEROUS procedure and under no circumstances should be attemped by other than skilled teachers etc etc.

A class of thirty or so boggle eyed 13 year olds watched as Jack applied a match to the magnesium ribbon to set the whole thing off. Except that it didn't. The magnesium wouldn't light. Jack scratched his head for a moment, then lighting a bunsen burner, he used it to heat the ribbon. Success!! It flared with a brilliant white flame and Jack put the bunsen burner down then came round to the 'safe' side of the screen,flipped down his own safety visor and told us to watch. The magnesium ribbon burned down into the tin and then-it spluttered-and went out.

Jack had put some time and effort into setting up his demonstration, and wasn't going to see it wasted. Very gingerly, he re-lit the bunsen burner, and crouching in front of the screen, held the burner round the side of it and directly heated the reaction mixture in the tin. After a few more minutes still nothing had happened. Muttering under his breath he put the bunsen down again. Inspiration struck. He fetched a second bunsen from out of the cupboard. Lighting this one as well, he attempted to reach round each side of the safety screen with them, but not having the armspan of a gibbon,he couldn't. Discarding his safety visor, he leaned over the TOP of the safety screen whilst heating the reaction mixture with the two bunsens.

Fucking Hell!!!! With a blinding flash of light the whole thing erupted in a cloud of smoke and flame. Right into Jacks' face. 'Arrgh my eyes' he yelled, or words to that effect,and stumbled backwards, dropping the bunsen burners in the process. Within a second or two there appeared be some sort of small thermonuclear reaction going on in the classroom (no fume cupboards in those days boys and girls) as the smoke, flame, and sparks increased in intensity. We were all transfixed. Chemistry was FUN!. The volcanic reaction reached a crescendo. Molten iron started to run out of the bottom of the tin can, through which it had melted its way-at some 2500 degrees centigrade. Sadly the sand tray was also totally inadequate to entirely contain the molten metal which, like the fabled China Syndrome, continued to sear its way into the thick wooden top of the bench. After a few minutes, which seemed like hours, the reaction exhausted it's fury, leaving only clouds of smoke and glowing globules of iron, cooling from white through to red and then black.

I don't remember much more about the lesson to be honest, though amazingly apart from a light singeing Jack appeared to be unscathed. He did later admit to increasing the amounts of reagents to about three times that recommended to make sure he got a good display. I don't think this demonstration was ever -erm-demonstrated again. The black, scorched, craters on the bench were still there when I left in 1975, and are no doubt still there to this day.
(, Tue 3 Feb 2009, 9:37, closed)
My eyes are bleeding!

Paragraphs please!
(, Tue 3 Feb 2009, 10:00, closed)
I was gonna read this,
But I'll wait 'til you've made it into paragraphs.
(, Tue 3 Feb 2009, 10:02, closed)
What
^he said.

That's unreadable.

Cheers
(, Tue 3 Feb 2009, 10:06, closed)
I tried...
...and failed. Please see paragraph-related comments for reference.

I was enjoying the story and would like to know how it ends. Also, I like your username.
(, Tue 3 Feb 2009, 10:12, closed)
Danger-mong at work.....
Edited for paragraphage-or lack thereof.....
I did study English as well as Chemistry-honestly!!!!
(, Tue 3 Feb 2009, 11:07, closed)
This was the first reaction we ever saw
1st year chemistry, first ever lesson, we all filed in and sat down. The teacher was standing at the front next to a quartz crucible. No safety screens. We all sat down and waited. When we were all sat down, without a word, he lit the magnesium ribbon.

Wow.

After the reaction had died down, he simply gestured at it with his hand and said: "And that's Chemistry." We were hooked.
(, Tue 3 Feb 2009, 11:16, closed)
Much better!

yey for thermite, boo for new health and safty laws.
(, Tue 3 Feb 2009, 11:16, closed)
Best way to start a thermit reaction
Is to put a little powdered magnesium around the base of the ribbon. Just don't leave the lid off where a spark could land in it...
(, Tue 3 Feb 2009, 12:27, closed)
That's a fantastic story
You had me grinning like a mong with an ice cream *click*
(, Wed 4 Feb 2009, 9:33, closed)

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