1. Re Mel Charlton's post about the eye protection video, I agree with
David Katz, et al. that it was most likely Norman Quam's production, where
they painted mannequin heads with solutions of Fe(III) or thiocyanate, and
exploded flasks containing the other reactant, causing red spots/blotches
wherever the eye/face protection had failed, or not covered. Someone should
certainly resurrect and reproduce that video, rather than "reinvent the
wheel," as Mel says [if only for the safety implications].
2. Re the suggestion of using NaOH in a Petri dish as a demo, I haven't
seen anyone mention a variant that I have found to be strikingly effective
when trying to "reach" people [young academic, or older industrial types] to
wear their eye protection *all* the time: It was not my idea, and I can't
remember where I first saw it to give the inventor credit, but: separating
the white of an egg, telling the students that that is similar to [some]
tissue in the eye, then putting that in a Petri dish on an overhead
projector [if you can find one that works] then asking the class to count
the time before my added drop of concentrated HCl [i.e. not base] coagulated
the previously transparent egg white, frequently yielded outright gasps from
the audience. Of course, the "instant cataract" projects black on the
screen. Then all the instructor need do was ask "Could YOU see through
that?" and/or "Could you beat that to the eye/face wash?" and the point was
made. I had much less trouble enforcing eye protection after that demo.
Suggestion: I would NOT tell them what the chemical was, except that it
was a very common one that they had all probably used, nor that this type of
damage might be repairable by eye surgery, whereas that from a base would be
much more difficult, if even possible, to repair.
Stephen J. Stepenuck, Ph.D.
Professor of chemistry emeritus
Keene State College
Keene NH 03435-2001
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