• Question: hola have you blew anything up

    Asked by even1rev on 13 Mar 2024. This question was also asked by here1tag.
    • Photo: Andrew McDowall

      Andrew McDowall answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      Yes, once, by accident. I was trying to use an atomic absorption machine using an air-acetylene mixture to create a hot flame. One gas pressure sensor said the gas bottle was empty, one said it was full. Turned out just to be enough gas to light the flame, which then flashed back into the instrument blowing out all the safety disks and propelling the flame nozzle upwards at speed somewhere into the chimney, where, to the best of my knowledge, it still is today. Happily the safety systems stopped the flashback from reaching the gas bottle. That was not a good day. It was an important lesson for me, when two safety systems disagree, act like the one prediciting doom is right. It saves on laundry bills.

    • Photo: Martin McCoustra

      Martin McCoustra answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      My parents gave me a chemistry set when I was young and I spent a lot of time trying to blow things up. I did have a couple of explosions in the lab when I was a research student. But those weren’t deliberate.

    • Photo: Alexander de Bruin

      Alexander de Bruin answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      yes, though not since university. I have had an implosion where a vacuum flask had a crack in it that I didn’t spot completely failed and shattered.

    • Photo: Amy Stockwell

      Amy Stockwell answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      Accidently during GCSE science. We were making crystals by heating up a solution (I forget what it was). We were just supposed to concentrate the solution, then leave it to cool and evaporate. My friend and I were so busy writing up the experiment that we forgot to watch the solution and it all evaporated and went bang. We did make the best crystal in the class though!

    • Photo: Christie Waddington

      Christie Waddington answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      I set a lab bench on fire once accidentally when I was using a Bunsen burner. Luckily we caught it before it got too big!

    • Photo: Zoe Vance

      Zoe Vance answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      Not since I’ve been a professional scientist (it’s a bit harder to blow things up if you only work on a computer…) but I did set fire to a fume hood in an undergraduate chemistry lab

    • Photo: Caroline Roche

      Caroline Roche answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      Unfortunately, yes but thankfully no one was hurt. Some electrical equipment should have just been plugged into a normal socket in the wall but instead got wired to the industrial supply. So when we turned the power on, the equipment went pop.

    • Photo: Ravindu Ranaweera

      Ravindu Ranaweera answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      Yes, a few times but very minor ones. Usually most of my experiments or designs go through a lot of risk and H&S assessments. And I always seek the advice of peers and especially technicians. So damage if any is minimal (so far…)

    • Photo: Mark Ridgill

      Mark Ridgill answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      No explosions thankfully but a few fizzy things that escaped from their containers!

    • Photo: Erin Pallott

      Erin Pallott answered on 13 Mar 2024:

      I have certainly tried not to, as that usually means a big mistake. My lab tech told me there’s a classic prank of putting dry ice into small plastic tubes and slipping them into people’s lab coat pockets. Their lids will blow up from the pressure of the ice evaporating right in the victim’s lab coat.

      I, of course, have never done that 👀

    • Photo: Michael Schubert

      Michael Schubert answered on 14 Mar 2024:

      Only on purpose! But I have been around for several not-so-intentional explosions, including:
      – the time a bottle of isopropanol (a special type of alcohol) exploded and melted a hole through the floor
      – the time my professor set his whole lab on fire using ether (which luckily only burns for a few seconds, so nobody was hurt and nothing was damaged)
      – the time a group set off an explosion on purpose to cause an avalanche (this is done so that they happen at safe, predictable times instead of at dangerous times when there are a lot of people around)… except the explosion, and therefore the avalanche, didn’t go quite where they predicted

    • Photo: Martin Minarik

      Martin Minarik answered on 14 Mar 2024:

      Not myself, but used to work in a nice clean lab at some point and found out it was so nice and clean compared to the rest of the building because it was fully renovated years before after someone put a highly flammable liquid in a fridge which wasn’t spark proof (which means manufactured so that there aren’t any components inside the fridge space that could cause electrical spark and ignite the contents). Well, it sparked and blew the entire lab. Luckily no one was inside at that time. Oh, wait, that reminds me of someone bringing a fermented drink into our lab office and forgetting it tightly sealed in a bottle in the fridge door over Christmas. Bottle pressurized, blew the fridge door open and shatterd all the fridge shelves and spilled on the wooden floor and then everything smelled of fermented grape juice when we got back from holidays.

    • Photo: Carlos Rivera

      Carlos Rivera answered on 15 Mar 2024:

      Does breaking a computer inside counts? I’ve done that several times.

    • Photo: Oznur Apsimon

      Oznur Apsimon answered on 15 Mar 2024:

      We take health and safety very seriously. Everything is risk-assessed. So an event like that is very unlikely. I did not but one day, one of the high-power sources in our lab caught fire! It was an old unit. It delayed our experiment for 6 months because the new unit cost 1-2 million Euros!