I'd thought I'd take this week to talk a little about my classes for this semester as I haven't yet, or more specifically, I wanted to tell you all about Amy and I's Organic Chemistry Lab. For whatever reason the Organic labs didn't meet until this last week, and we had an interesting first class. In theory the first class followed the routine of my past chem classes (safety lecture sometimes followed by a short lab experiment). In reality, well...
In Chem 1 and 2 the safety lectures were maybe 15 minutes long and I believe all chemistry lab sections get the same safety list that tells you to wear close-toed shoes and safety goggles and to use the eye wash station or fire extinguisher or safety shower as needed (which was ironic when I had both my previous labs in North Wing *coughJankyHallcough* that didn't even have fire extinguishers in the room or safety showers at all).
In Comparision.... (really it should have been apparent just with the fact that we were in the nice building instead of the run down one)
The Organic safety lecture lasted at least an hour and went into detail about what makes the organic labs different from the other chemistry classes. In chem 1 and 2, you deal a lot with various types of acids and etc that if you spill it on yourself it...well it doesn't feel pleasant and can do some damage to your skin. The chemicals we're going to be working with apparently often don't feel painful at all if you spill it on yourself, but since they're organic chemicals they can do far more internal damage if not dealt with properly. Nine times out of ten a 15 minute wash with water will do the trick, but every now and then it won't. Like a certain chemical where if a tiny drop lands on your hand and you think "oh this doesn't hurt. I'll just wash it off and not bother mentioning such a small thing to the TA" and then you wash it off and think its gone but you wake up the next mornign to find a crater in you hand because the chemical just kept disolvling you flesh overnight.
In at least one of the labs this semester we're working with known carcinogens. As in, if you don't follow procedure, you could get cancer. And anyone thinking about getting pregnant or could be pregnant (1) is strongly advised not to take the class (2) will require a note from the obstetrician, and (3) needs to sign a liability waver. So yeah, no big deal....
The lab instructor had plenty of "fun" examples and stories for the entire safety list, most of them her own. She said she really shouldn't have been a chemist, she's too clumsy. She would be blind three times over if not for the eye wash stations.
We're advised to walk to the eye wash station once or twice during lab each week. You know, to get the muscle memory down in case we need to use it...because if you need to use it, you'll probably not be able to see and will have to get there blind. The lab instructor had a story where she was in her stock room pouring a liter of acid out to use for an experiment. I think this was before policies changed to require safety googles rather than just safety glasses, and some of the acid splashed into her eye. The stock rooms don't have eye wash stations, so she had to get from the stock room to one of the labs to the eye wash station completely blind. Fun story bro.
And because the lab instructor has had to use these eye washes, she got to tell us some of the interesting details....like most likely you'll have to be held down into the water becuase gallons of water splashing up into your eyes doesn't feel much better than the acid or pipet tip jammed in your eye and becuase of that you'll feel like you're being drowned.
We're encouraged to not fight the people we think are drowning us that are actually saving our sight.
Panic does interesting things to the human brain. The lab safety instructor had plenty of things to say on that subject, mostly dealing with fires. The lab sheet tells you to call 911 in case of fire. A lot of people, when faced with their experiment in flames, forget they own a phone. The lab structor encouraged us in this scenerio to grab our lab partner's phone, because they likely own one as well. And if all else fail and you forget phones were invented due to panic, we're told to just run and shout "FIRE!!!" because if you run down the hall shouting "FIRE!!!!!" someone's likely to take notice. The lab instructor reiterated that the most important step there is the screaming of "fire". Apparently one year she was standing in the front of the lab and saw one of the students in the back corner stations run out of the room, not saying a word. She was admittedly a little confused at first and discussed with the TA whether or not the student just really needed to use the bathroom. Then they noticed the flames coming from the back of the room. They didn't hear from the student until the next week's lab. When asked, he said he didn't really realize what he was doing until he pulled into the driveway of his house. So, the moral of the story is that a really good way to communicate something important is shouting and the human brain in panic mode is a very interesting thing.
But really, I should get to the most interesing portion of the saftey lecture: the safety shower. It's a lovely thing, really. It could totally save your life. The lab instructor mentioned a time when she literally witnessed the clothes dissolving off a girls' arm and torso, but that she ended up being totally fine withour so much as a scare. But the thing about lab safety showers is that you are required to remove your clothes before using the shower because otherwise the water pressure will just push the chemical throught the clothing up against the skin and usually make the injury worse. And just to make sure you all get the full scenerio, the shower isn't a stall or anything. It's just a showerhead sticking out of the wall. So if you need to use the safety shower, you will be completely stripping down in front of all your labmates. And you will be glad of it because you will not be dead.
And I'll leave you with one last personal story from the lab instructor. She was working on an experiment in a room without a safety shower, spilled some stuff all down her pants, and subsequently had to run down the hallway of Central while taking off her pants. Quite a sight to imagine.
These were just the things from the safety lecture I could think of off the top of my head. It's a shame I can't remember some of the other good stuff, but just know that the instructor did a fantastic job of making us desire to respect the safety procedures (and to make me think I'm totally going to die this semester)
Isn't science fun, guys?
In a fun turn of events this week, there is no "Words Weebly Doesn't Think Are Words"
This segment will instead be replaced with "Spelling Mistakes Weebly Thinks Are Valid Words"
In my haste to quickly get a blog out on time, I mistakenly types "carginagins" instead of "carcinogens" and "drowing" instead of "drowing." And weebly had no qualms whatsoever.