About 100 years ago, the Chairperson of the Chemistry Department at Johns Hopkins University, and one of the pioneers of chemical education in America, Ira Remsen, wrote the following: (uploaded to the web by Steve Murov, Modesto Junior College).

The description above is very amusing and expresses an enthusiasm for chemistry that we all should strive for. Ira Remsen also recognized the vital importance of the laboratory experience in chemistry. However, he was very fortunate that this particular experiment did not have dire consequences. Experiments should never be conducted using the methods described. List all the violations of good safety practice in the experiment described by Ira Remsen and suggest some safer approaches to finding out what was meant by the words "acts upon". [Note: A question about the availability of hoods might emerge during a consideration of this exercise.  Reference to some pictures of alchemists such as Weiditz (An Alchemist), van Ostade (The Alchemists), or Rink (Teniers' The Laboratory) might help provide an answer to this question.  Copies of these pictures are available at the "Pictures of Alchemists' site ( under the History of Chemistry (V-E) at the Chemistry Webercises Directory. Be sure to click on the desired picture to convert it into a full screen picture.]


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