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Anti-Terrorism and the Death of the Chemistry Set

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the the-dark-side-of-phenolphthalein dept.

Education 860

An anonymous reader writes "A recent unfortunate casualty of anti-terrorism laws is the home chemistry set. Once deemed the gift that saved Christmas, most Slashdotters probably remember early childhood experimentation with one of the many pre-packaged chemistry sets that were on the market. Unfortunately the FBI has decided that home chemistry sets are a threat to national security and they are rapidly disappearing from the market entirely. Those that remain are shallow boring versions of the old kits."

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just taking care to take care. (5, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191777)

You do know the government is just trying to take care of us, right? Heck, I got the warm fuzzy long ago when Claritin-D, technically an OTC drug would only be sold from behind TC, and then only if you present picture identification, and even then you could only purchase enough to take one a day for ten days! Of course, if it isn't in stock when you want to purchase, you're out of luck... but you're being taken care of. (If you didn't know, the government was/is protecting us from the proliferation of meth labs with this inane process... not that I've noticed much evidence meth labs have disappeared. I have been a lot more congested though.)

Surprised chemistry sets didn't go this route long ago, what with their potential to put together explosives approaching that of a couple firecrackers combined! Warm fuzzies.

I hate to rant about good intentions, but these don't even smell like good intentions any more. Terrorists couldn't care less about chemistry sets.

Re:just taking care to take care. (5, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191857)

The reason we see such an erosion of our freedoms is that Freedom and Trust go hand in hand. Some of that trust is to be responsible (gun safety), and some of that trust is to respect life and civil society (not a terrorist). That trust is gone, not only between the government and the people, but between neighbors. We wouldn't need all of this "think of the children" shit, if neighbors actually knew and trusted each other. We wouldn't have the highest prison population in the world if the government trusted the people.

Re:just taking care to take care. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21191927)

if the government trusted the people.

Hmm, with all the "never trust the government" stuff going on nowadays (and proliferated by /.), why should the government treat it's people any different from the way from the people treating the government?

What goes around, comes around.

Re:just taking care to take care. (5, Insightful)

weighn (578357) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191999)

if the government trusted the people.
why should the government treat it's people any different from the way from the people treating the government?
What goes around, comes around.
OK, I'm confused. Don't you guys, the shining light of Global Democracy, have a saying regarding governance "By the people, for the people"?

Re:just taking care to take care. (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192243)

I'd say the catchphrase of the US feds today is rather "Do as I say, don't do as I do".

Answer (5, Insightful)

Morosoph (693565) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192137)

why should the government treat it's people any different from the way from the people treating the government?
Because the Government exists for the people. It has no other purpose. Asymmetry follows from that.

Re:just taking care to take care. (5, Insightful)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191969)

I disagree. I think that terrorists very much care about chemistry sets.

They care that they aren't offered and they care that people are pissed about it. They care about kids having less and less of a chance to educate themselves and they care that kids curiosity isn't being fulfilled nearly as much. They definitely care. They care that the US is becoming a more and more demoralized nation and the educated are having to fight less and less fights that matter and about more and more like this. They care that the people that think are being distracted and rendered useless. Because with them out of way, and with the idiots that are in power today, the current situation will favour them more and more and...

Take care of the thinkers of tomorrow, take care of the thinkers of today and take care that the terrorists are very very happy about this.

Re:just taking care to take care. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192147)

I think it's time you Yanks got a new national anthem.

"O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave"

Sadly I don't think that's true anymore.

Re:just taking care to take care. (0, Offtopic)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192181)

They must sell veeery different chemistry sets where I come from. The chemistry set I had let you make blue crystals and turn blue solutions red etc, the chemicals were the sort of chemicals that you could get an idea of how a couple of concepts and how to use basic equipment, not exactly blow-up-building material. They were mostly salts.

Maybe it was just a baby chemistry set, but it does seem like there are easier ways to learn bomb making, and get the chemicals needed to make bombs. From what little I know about bomb making you can make the cheaper terrorism-level bombs out of quite a household items.

Re:just taking care to take care. (5, Insightful)

GuyverDH (232921) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192185)

Don't forget, that now even Jr. High School students in the US are being asked to declare their Majors so that they can be narrowly channeled into their chosen field of study.

Sorry, you wanted to be a mechanic, no home economics for you. Or, oh... too bad you selected accountant, now you can't get that particle physics minor you so badly wanted.

Today's government wants all knowledge compartmentalized so that no one, and I mean no one, outside of the government can get the clear picture of what's going on.

Want to get into a hobby? It had better be along the lines of what you went to college for, otherwise they'll start to watch you on suspicion of being a terrorist. Showing an interest in an activity outside of your major, oooh - watchout, you've made the FBI's watch list again.

Jack of all trades are a dying breed. Specialization guarantees that the government is the only entity that really knows what's going on, just the way they want it to be.

Just think, if the government had started down this path 20 years ago, most of us would be specialists who grunt when someone talks about something that we didn't go to school for. Or worse yet, we'd call the cops if someone tried to teach us something outside of our specialty.

This is how periods of history like the dark ages start. By restricting knowledge so that the masses are not allowed to be fully educated, you guarantee that knowledge will begin to stagnate (only when certain types of knowledge intermingle with others are truly radical discoveries usually possible), and eventually disappear, sometimes forever.

Re:just taking care to take care. (1)

liquiddark (719647) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192227)

Some might even say that at some point, they're getting their wars fought for them [d-n-i.net] .

Re:just taking care to take care. (5, Insightful)

captainwisdom (1182145) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191971)

Bull, the chemistry sets were dumbed down long before 9-11. Anti-terrorism has nothing to do with it. It's all about chem-set manufacturers getting sued (by armies of trial lawyers) and the liberal nanny state "protecting" our kids.

^ Mod 'er up! ^ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192055)

C'mon... let's see that score elevate.

Re:just taking care to take care. (1)

mikael (484) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192091)

I see electronics kits in the stores. I used to see 100-in-1 experiments (Mykit systems etc...), now the shops only stock 5-in-1 and 3-in-1 sets. I'm not sure if that it because of a difference in stores (hobbyist stores vs. toy store) or just a general trend.

Re:just taking care to take care. (1)

Like2Byte (542992) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192053)

In Indiana, the state had companies selling Diesel fuel and drugs (that could be used to manufacture Meth) have their customers sign forms before the sale of the item was completed (diesel) or before they handed over said drugs.

Buying Diesel one day and in no mood for this being accused of being criminally minded, I accepted the clipboard and wrote my name like Thomas Jefferson on our Constitution - BIG, BOLD, and in no fear of the 'powers that be.' I used the rest of the entire sheet - roughly 20 lines to write my name and address.

I don't think the clerk really understood why I did it. I actually think they were a little annoyed. If I had had a sharpie at the time I would have written my name across the remaining 8 pages or so, too.

Re:just taking care to take care. (2, Funny)

ArcadeNut (85398) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192171)

Good thing you didn't write it small like John Hancock did on the Constitution!

Re:just taking care to take care. (5, Insightful)

myth_of_sisyphus (818378) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192233)

I was at the pharmacy when an old codger asked for some Claritin for allergies. He was obviously stuffed up.

The pharmacist asked for a CA driver's license. He said he doesn't drive anymore but has his VA card. She wouldn't sell it to him. Said she had to put the CA driver's license number in the database. No other's allowed.

A veteran of WWII or perhaps Korea couldn't buy a fucking harmless medication because he doesn't have the right ID? I couldn't fucking believe it... Was he going to go back to the old-folks home and set up a meth lab with a box of Claritin? Jebus fucking H goddamn shit.

(This country disgusts me more and more. We should storm something in Guy Faulke's masks. )

Re:just taking care to take care. (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192277)

Heck, I got the warm fuzzy long ago when Claritin-D, technically an OTC drug would only be sold from behind TC, and then only if you present picture identification, and even then you could only purchase enough to take one a day for ten days!

They must have an interesting time selling the 15 caplet pack [amazon.com] then, eh?

I've never had any trouble buying and taking it for more than ten days, heck I've been taking it almost every day for the past month thanks to my allergies.

Re:just taking care to take care. (5, Interesting)

Marful (861873) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192301)

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of Human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." - Colonial America sympathesizer William Pitt, British House of Commons, November 18, 1783

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

"Doctors have been caught using poisons, and those who falsely assume the name of philosopher have occasionally been detected in the gravest crimes. Let us give up eating, it often makes us ill; let us never go inside houses, for sometimes they collapse on their occupants; let never a sword be forged for a soldier, since it might be used by a robber." - ancient Roman educator Marcus Fabius Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, II, xvi

options (4, Informative)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191779)

The death of a certain type of chemistry set. There are a pretty wide number of sets available [amazon.com] including the specific kit mentioned in TFA (Chem C3000 [amazon.com] ) and the reviews there both mention the difficulty in gathering some of the materials necessary to doing the expirements. I don't think it is just terrorism though. Terrorism, a litigious society, the war on drugs - I think any one alone would have probably been enough, and we've got all three.

I wonder if this might signal an opportunity for some entrepeneur to develop a virtual chem lab. It's not exactly the same, but at least it would give kids an opportunity to learn and explore. It could also offer features you wont find in any real chemistry set. Nice graphics showing what is going on on a much lower level. A virtual professor to help out and explain. Tools and materials that are too expensive or that really would be too dangerous.

Re:options (2, Interesting)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191877)

A virtual chem lab is a great idea that I never would have thought of. A quick googling yielded several results that I'm off to check out right now.

I had several chemistry sets as a kid and spent many, many hours conducting experiments, often to my own harm (poisonous gases, chloral hydrate, etc...:-) High school chemistry almost got me arrested, and led in part to my expulsion from public school. Now, I'd like to get back into it, even if only for the theory, and as such a well designed virtual lab would suffice. Thanks for the idea, stoolpigeon!

Re:options (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192075)

I had several chemistry sets as a kid and spent many, many hours conducting experiments, often to my own harm (poisonous gases, chloral hydrate, etc...:-) High school chemistry almost got me arrested, and led in part to my expulsion from public school.

And this is the problem. It's not terrorism that is causing these things to disappear. It's the fact that we've become a nanny state, and it's not conservatives that are the cause! You can't get toys for your kids that may have pointed edge. You can't get toys for your kids that may fit down a wind pipe or break off into sharp pieces. This isn't because of GW Bush, it's because of lawyers. Any time a kid gets hurt by a toy, the company gets sued into oblivion, whether it was the company's fault or not! It becomes cheaper to settle out of court for $100,000 than it does not fight it out.

Chemistry sets are hard to find for the same reason that sling shots are hard to find. It's not because they present a terrorism threat, it's because they are dangerous. The first time some kid mixes something that he wasn't supposed to makes an explosive, corrosive mixture that "puts an eye out", the company that made that kit gets sued. If it were about terror, this would be an article about how hard it is to find good pool chemicals!

It's the same nannies that want to tell you that you can't smoke in your house, or you can't have a big mac or supersize your fries. These people don't usually tend to be conservatives. It's happens to be the people that say things like, "we are going to take things away from you for the common good."

virtual chem lab (5, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191881)

Sorry, thats far too sterile to really learn anything.

Until you burn your fingers on a hot beaker, or smell the reults of your last failed ( or successful ) experiment that catches on fire or cracks the bottom out of your flask, you never really learn. Its all theory without that sort of 'real' experience..

Re:virtual chem lab (2)

bh_doc (930270) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192049)

If anything has even the remotest chance that something catches fire, eventually it will, and a dumbass will try to sue the manufacturer for it. Guaranteed.

Re:virtual chem lab (5, Insightful)

Pingmaster (1049548) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192309)

I can't agree with that more. I love tinkering with electronic gadgets, as a kid I used to take apart RC cars and make stuff with the motors. One of the first lessons I learned was to check for short circuits when I burned my fingers connecting a wire to a shorted battery terminal. I learned to wear safety goggles, and to pour chemicals carefully when I splashed a chem set experiment in my eye (that stung!). I learned to cut away from myself when I sliced my finger open while building a model car. You can't learn that sort of stuff from a virtual chem/electronic/modelling program. Besides, at an age where you learn best by getting your hands dirty, clicking a mouse just doesn't cut it.

The excuse that 'Terrorists' use the chem sets for bombs and chemical warfare is ridiculous. If they are used for malicious purpose, it's more likely from your average neighbourhood punk kid making a smoke bomb or something similar. People wanting to cause REAL harm will be busy getting Ammonium Nitrate (fertilier) and Diesel (makeshift ANFO, a powerful explosive), or gunpowder, or Javex and Drano (cheap and easy way to get mustard gas) and causing all sorts of deadly havoc that way. one must wonder if DHS took the anarchist's cookbook a little too seriously..maybe next week, they'll be banning 3.25" floppies because you can embed match heads in them to cook floppy drives..

Re:options (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21191897)

The summary has nothing to do with TFA. The FBI isn't banning anything -- the only mention is that some states require a background check to purchase chemicals, which the FBI performs.

Wimpy chemistry sets are nothing new -- it's an overly litigious society, not law that's at fault. I had one in the 80's, that looks a lot like the Discovery Chem-X 1000 on Amazon. Everything had child safety caps, nothing explosive or pyrotechnic, nothing more than slightly toxic. Most of the experiments I remember had to do with color or phase changes.

Re:options (4, Insightful)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191923)

No offense, but that's pretty lame. Chemistry sets are fun because they're hand on.

This is just getting ridiculous. I can go down the block and fill my car with 30 gallons of highly flamable/explosive gasoline, but chemistry sets are off limits because they contain a few ounces of potentially dangerous chemicals? Our government is officially retarded.

Re:options (2, Insightful)

carlos92 (682924) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192255)

Next thing we know cars will have the fuel tank locked and only a government official will be able to extract gasoline from your car.

Re:options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21191945)

Virtual, eh? I'd figure anyone bored with school (and glued to a computer) might as well spend their time on 4chan. I can't imagine a virtual chem lab would have anything to do with a chem lab. Hey kids, you have this virtual chem lab or this movie about how marijuana leads straight to PCP. Which one do you want?

You need to realize that anyone playing with a chem lab is the same person who realizes that school is for sheep herding. I'm curious what the bored and smart kids are going to do with their free time. Maybe they'll develop Soylent Green because we'll need that one by the time they're 30.

Re:options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192131)

As usual, the UK is ahead of the game here:

As it's Halloween, our esteemed leaders have banned the sale of eggs and flour to minors (no, I'm not joking - see bbc.co.uk). Personally, I'm just waiting for the inevitable court case against an "Arthur Daley" for supplying "munitions" (a.k.a., cake mixture) "with intent" at the local car boot sale ... you couldn't whisk it up.

soon to be replaced by -- (0, Troll)

bensafrickingenius (828123) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191785)

The Home Meth Lab Kit! Get yours today!

all the fun stuff (2, Interesting)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191787)

Those that remain are shallow boring versions of the old kits.

What, no more ammonium nitrate, sodium pellets, and hunks of magnesium? Ah well, there's always mail-order.

The end of "sex panther" cologne? (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191867)

Surely that [sex-panther.com] could be used by terrorists to lure and then annihilate politicians and megarich businessmen of the opposite (or sometimes the same) sex. It smells like a chemistry set too!

Re:all the fun stuff (4, Informative)

Z0mb1eman (629653) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192103)

Ah well, there's always mail-order.

Well... no, there isn't really. A good friend of mine who IS a rocket scientist (aerospace engineer, anyway) is a long-time rocket hobbyist and is now tinkering with propulsion systems in his garage. Don't get him started on ordering hobby rocket engines above a certain size, any kind of fuel ingredients, and even certain parts from the States over the last couple of years (we're in Canada, and apparently you can't find a lot of this stuff locally to start with).

Re:all the fun stuff (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192169)

the last one I saw, I kid you not, was 95% salts. I think 3 compounds weren't salts. How reactive are salts? NOT VERY! You need acids and bases to do some real cool stuff. That's not universally true cuz you can strip the fun compounds of the salts and stuff but it's still more difficult in general

And by extension (3, Insightful)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191791)

All knowledge shall follow. Knowledge is terrorism. An informed public is a dangerous public.

Re:And by extension (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191993)

Wont affect Americans much. They did vote Bush in twice after all. ;)

Re:And by extension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192129)

Just the Confederates.

Re:And by extension (2, Informative)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192177)

As much as I want to disagree with what you said I can't bring myself to do it. The only "real" experiment I've done in my Chemistry class this year involved baking soda and water. I envy the older generations who actually were able to conduct real experiments and learn something useful.

Then there's the Internet (5, Informative)

ayelvington (718605) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191793)

Check out http://www.unitednuclear.com/ [unitednuclear.com] and build your own. Amazing stuff your mother wouldn't let you have. a

When's it going to stop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21191797)

Why not just throw everyone in jail now, so we don't have to worry about terrorists running loose in the streets?

Re:When's it going to stop? (4, Funny)

RLiegh (247921) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191835)

Why not just throw everyone in jail now, so we don't have to worry about terrorists running loose in the streets?

Patience, patience. We're getting there!

Inaccurate Title (1)

idiotwithastick (1036612) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191799)

I highly doubt that home chemistry sets cause terrorism... little kids aren't going to go make bombs and blow people up, and people who want to make bombs can easily obtain the materials from elsewhere. I think a bigger problem is the fear that children would hurt themselves accidentally by ingesting chemicals and such.

Re:Inaccurate Title (2, Insightful)

riprjak (158717) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192079)

I dunno, building explosives and detonating trees in the sandhills and mailboxes in the neighbourhood kept me happily grounded for a lot of months when I was a kid. And since fireworks werent available readily in Australia when I grew up, we used chemistry sets to make it all...

And now kids are denied that joy! I wouldnt be the Engineer (and safety nazi) I am today without those experiences.

Once again the terrorists win a strategic victory against western society, yet another one given them with the explicit aid of a western government. In WWII we hung people for giving aid and comfort to the enemy...


It totally makes sense now... (4, Funny)

machinelou (1119861) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191821)

Mr. Wizard wasn't interested in "educating" youth, he was trying to build an army for his own jihad!

Today, Chem sets and model rockets (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191825)

Tomorrow, knowledge. Dangerous times ahead.

Seems the terrorists have already won, with a minimal expenditure of energy/effort. I still wonder if this was the plan all along, to just nudge the civilized world into self destruction on its own, or just an unexpected side effect worth exploiting. Either way its the same result, but i am curious.

Re:Today, Chem sets and model rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21191919)

The terrorists aren't winning - especially when you consider that the terrorists are the people TERRORIZING us with constant BS and lies.

I consider the terrorists to be the Likudniks and Neocons who aren't even able to keep their lies from contradicting each other.

Unlike a lot of other people, us 'geeks' have the tools, curiosity and critical analytical skills to discern the lies of the past 50 years and the @ssholes lying to us today.

Guess after this post I'll be joining that bloated terrorist database...

Re:Today, Chem sets and model rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192011)

Looks like you have just enough of the paranoia to be on the crazy ranters list. At least it's balanced with an inflated sense of self-importance. Which is of course another symptom.

Oh how I wish you logged in so I could know to ignore you.

Re:Today, Chem sets and model rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21191939)

This has nothing to do with the terrorists. The terrorists want the US out of their holy land and us all worshiping allah. The FASCISTS are winning

Re:Today, Chem sets and model rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192097)

Sorry buddy, you're a victim of brainwashing.

There needs to be an enemy to justify expenditure of our tax dollars on weaponry sold by the friends of those in government.

It used to be the other nations, then other religions, then nations, then communists, then ethnic groups and now it's terrorists.

same shit, different day - but today we can smell it.

Re:Today, Chem sets and model rockets (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192009)

Seems the terrorists have already won, with a minimal expenditure of energy/effort. I still wonder if this was the plan all along, to just nudge the civilized world into self destruction on its own, or just an unexpected side effect worth exploiting. Either way its the same result, but i am curious.

Terrorism is like a broom and totalitarianism and government oppression are like a shovel. Now could it possibly be that the same person is holding both?

Indeed, terrorism is intended to have a maximal social effect with minimum outlay. In the dirty tyrannies they just grab a few random individuals, imprisoned them, beat them half to death and released the pale, afraid and shattered life that was left into the community. Worked like a charm.

In this case, however, I think we're heading for a white coat tyranny.

Radio Free Childhood (1)

kalpol (714519) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191829)

I'm glad they haven't gotten to electronics kits yet...I'm sure they will eventually though. Those things are dangerous! God forbid people learn to build crystal radios to tune in the forbidden propaganda broadcasts. Knowledge is dangerous (...i'm only about 3/4s kidding, too)

New government slogan... (1)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191831)

"Killing knowledge, one step at a time."

Re:New government slogan... (1)

weighn (578357) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191955)

"Killing knowledge, one step at a time."
Oh yeah, blame the government. Kids just aren't into boring stuff like chemistry, the political process or doing well at school these days. There's too much really fun stuff to get into, like spending hours tweaking their myspace page.</sarcasm>

As if the media wasn't doing a good enough job at pushing their anti-intellectual agenda, along come the military-industrial goons. Welcome to the New Dark Age.

Who needs a chemistry set? (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191839)

If someone wants to blow something up, they need to look no further than under the sink. How long before Drain-O is a thing of the past?

It's sad really, those sets got me interested enough to pick chemistry as a career.

Drano, chlorine, fertiliser, thorium & antifre (3, Informative)

xixax (44677) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192081)

Fertiliser already requires photo ID and valid reason. When our car's radioator was serviced the antifreeze was changed for a new blue liquid, while I haven't investigated, I'm betting it's a non ethylene glycol formula designed to be less useful as a precursor. I can't get thoriated gas lamp mantles and the "non radioactive" ones are feeble. Chlorine and sodium hydroxide aren't that far down the list anymore.

Next (0, Redundant)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191847)

Will be the calculator. Then pen and paper, and then books. Except the bible, of course. The mind is a terrible thing

What's the ugliest
Part of your body?
What's the ugliest
Part of your body?
Some say your nose
Some say your toes
(I think it's your mind)...

Re:Next (2, Funny)

Versatile Dinosaur (816128) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191941)

The Bible is already under threat. The democong would love to ban it. In the new "liberal totalitarian" state, only the Qur'an will be allowed.

What a crock (1)

boyter (964910) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191853)

While this contributes to the death of the set it wasn't the beginning. What really killed the chemistry set is marketing. Have a look at the sets of old where you saw a scientist with a white coat with the ugly beard doing something cool. The sets of these days have some sort of slobbing freak creating other freaks using green goo. Nobody was buying them for that reason alone.

Chemistry (4, Interesting)

bloosqr (33593) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191865)

Its interesting, this was the subject of the first episode of "Wired Science" a new PBS episode. I can not agree more w/ the premise. The unfortunate part of what makes it even worse I think is due to terrorism/columbine etc even looking up this stuff will get scrutiny that wasn't really the case back when we were all kids. As an example of this I get the impression that from the press "peroxyacetone" is now unfortunately used by terrorists all the time (in fact that was the absurd uncomprehensible basis for the "no liquids" on planes).

What was interesting about the Wired Science show was that show bemoaned the fact that chemistry sets are watered down but the show had a chemist talk about how dangerous using nonlaboratory conditions to run one of the "old school" experiments were.

The irony of it was in this show that was going on about "dangerous" chemicals was that "dangerous" chemical was actually NI3 one of the standard things kids used to make all the time.

On a personal note, I was one of those kids who was a total pyromaniac in high school / middle school, we eventually grew out of it of course, but we pretty much made everything one could easily get a hold of and then some. All of this was done in using "household" chemicals (and some ordering from chemical supply companies). The practical upshot of being a complete pyromaniac in was I ended up getting my undergraduate degree in chemistry/CS and getting a Ph.D. in chemistry and now am a faculty member (in physics randomly enough). At the end of the day it was "blowing stuff up" that made science cool, perhaps a little dangerous, perhaps even foolhardy but the fact that you could do so much w/ everyday chemicals sparked that interest in science, atoms and plain old tinkering ..

Amateur Rocketry RIP (5, Informative)

SirDrinksAlot (226001) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191879)

Amateur Rocketry is now dead too. I remember going out to pick up a couple engines and found out about the new (impending) restrictions. The government pretty much handed the terrorists their victory and hobby science is one of the victims.

Re:Amateur Rocketry RIP (5, Informative)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191977)

Amateur rocketry was dying anyway. I remember trying to buy rocket engines when I was a bit younger (~10 years) and you already needed to provide photo ID with your current address on it. I gave up on that day, as did a lot of people because you can't even find rocketry supplies in the local model store anymore.

Not a terribly new issue... (4, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191885)

I was lamenting the passing of the hobbiest chemistry sets long before 9/11. You can still get them in various places and you can get a fairly wide selection of chemicals from a number of sources, including e-bay. Hell, I even bought some concentrated (70%) nitric acid off of e-bay not more than a year ago.

That said, the decline in hobby-level chemistry sets, as I mentioned before, began with the rise in the "new American Dream." You know, the one where you sue somebody for a million dollars. Liability for selling chemistry sets is, without a doubt, astronomical in these days of knee-jerk litigation... Nobody in their right mind would sell something to children that they could easily kill or wound themselves with, quite easily...

From my own personal history, when I had a chemistry set as a child, it came with glass tubing and an alcohol burner. You used it to heat the tubing and bend it into shapes to connect beakers and what have you together... Well, not being old enough to know better, and not patient enough to wait for the tubing to cool down on its own after bending it, I decided it might be best to cool it off in some water. I consider it fortunate I didn't lose an eye when the glass exploded. And that didn't involve any chemicals... Not that the stuff they provided was terribly dangerous, but it's dangerous enough that it's simply not a viable business anymore, is my point...

Re:Not a terribly new issue... (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191991)

"Well, not being old enough to know better, and not patient enough to wait for the tubing to cool down on its own after bending it, I decided it might be best to cool it off in some water. I consider it fortunate I didn't lose an eye when the glass exploded."

Yeah, but you SURE learned THAT lesson!

I've still got mine (2, Interesting)

hammarlund (568027) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191895)

I sure do. It must be 40 years old now, but I've still got my Lionel-Porter Chemcraft Chemistry Lab. I'm afraid to open the small chemical bottles to see if they're still good. I've got 17 of them, a Porter alcohol burner, a couple of test tube and the Adventures With Chemistry book, copyrighted in 1958, and filled with experiments. Apparently this was produced by the Lionel Toy Corporation.

The closest thing to terrorism I could find was Experiment 344 - Proteins Contain Sulfur: Mix some egg white with a smalll amount of Calcium Oxide (No. 20) to make a dough. Put this mixture in a test tube and heat. After the mass turns brown, cool it and fill the tube 1/4 full of water. Shake and pour off the brown liquid into another test tube. Add 2 measures of Sodium Bisulfate (No. 7) and heat to boiling. Remove fromthe heat and smell for hydrogen sulfide gas. This smell is like rotten eggs.

I had some fun with that one.

Re:I've still got mine-CHEMICLES DECAY (2, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191995)

I'm afraid to open the small chemical bottles to see if they're still good.

Yes, chemicles decay. It's just like food. Leave them around too long and they go rotten. They probably decay to atoms, which if left untouched decay to protrons, neutrons, and electrons. Leave those alone and they'll decay to quarks. Yeah, you've got to stay away from those old chemicles.

Dynamite decays too. Becomes to unstable that you look at it wrong and it can go off with a big bang! Avoid chemistry sets with dynamite in bottles.

They were already idiot-proof!!! (2, Insightful)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191899)

WTF are the dumbed-down chemistry sets now?

The old ones were dumb enough. When I got a chemistry set when I was small (something like 60 chemicals), I got bored of all the pre-drawn experiments and decided to experiment myself. I mixed pretty much every goddamn chemical together.. BLUE liquid! yay.. Then, I put some in a test tube and heated it.. and OMG.. it boiled!!! and then.. it smelled like crap! Yay chemistry.. It was like they formulated the entire set to be as unexplosive as possible.

Fucking nanny state...

I would've attacked the issue of terrorism the exact opposite. I'd tell everyone to grow some balls, carry a fucking gun, ask suspicious people questions, and be vigilant. And.. everyone can carry whatever the hell they want on a plane. I'd like to see a terrorist just try to hijack a plane when who knows how many people are armed...

Don't ban chemistry sets.

Re:They were already idiot-proof!!! (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192115)

when I was small (something like 60 chemicals)

That's quite small, I admit. How did you do that? I thought even a single cell is more complex than 60 chemicals...

Tinkertoys Next? (4, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191903)

I can only believe that Tinkertoys will be next.

They burn if ignited.
They can cause physical injury if someone is stabbed with one, or has a hub thrown at them from close range.
They can be assembled into a gun that might look too realistic if viewed under poor conditions.

Got to get rid of this stuff now. Leave the kids ignorant of any toys that might actually teach them critical thinking by doing.

Chemistry doesn't care about black people! (1)

WhatsUpNegro (1171485) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191905)


1) Why an Erlenmeyer flask instead of a Negro flask?

2) Can't think of a 2nd reason but I always give two reasons so fuck it and fuck you.

3) Chemistry called me a nigger once.

We as negro people, it's time, it's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild Chemistry, the one that should be a Chocolate Chemistry. And I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. Chemistry will be chocolate at the end of the day. --

The culture of fear isn't only in chemistry (4, Insightful)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191931)

The thought behind this is the same as the one behind Germany's banning of certain computer security tools, and the assaults on cryptography. Dangerous tools exist in every important field, and those with no fear of falling behind will always want to ban more and more. We need another Sputnik moment to galvanize the angry reactionaries to demand more science instead of demanding more childproofing.

Misleading title, again. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21191935)

Yet again we have the same people who accuse the government of fear mongering using their own similar tactics to put a political spin on things. Anyone with any knowledge of the subject knows for a fact that chemistry sets started going safe long before 9/11 or terrorism.
How about those who supposedly hate modern day administration fear mongering try to not be a bunch of hypocrites and admit that this has been a long time in coming, probably before many slashdotters were even out of high school.

Re:Misleading title, again. (3, Insightful)

SixFactor (1052912) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192269)

Oh, this is beyond the misleading title. This is more like stirring the pot, and rasslin' up some FUD. The funny thing is, the blog cited by the the anonymous reader does a decent job of attributing the difficulty of obtaining chemicals not just on the government, but on more economic factors, like liability concerns on the part of the chem set manufacturers and sellers. The money quote:

If a ladder manufacturer is under a constant barrage of liability suits, imagine the torrent of litigation directed to those giving a child a set of potentially dangerous chemicals. Its a CHILD, for God's sake. [Oh, I'm sorry, for a minute there I was waxing Democrat.]

Further, if you follow the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) link that's found on the blog, you'll find significant criticism of the ATF's enforcement of the Safe Explosives Act, which apparently has been less than effective. From the link:

The SEA was implemented to enhance public safety by expanding the ATF's licensing authority to include the intrastate manufacture, purchase, and use of explosives.2 The SEA also expanded the categories of "prohibited persons" to be denied access to explosives from four to seven. The new prohibited persons categories are aliens (with limited exceptions), persons who have been dishonorably discharged from the military, and individuals who have renounced their United States citizenship. These categories were added to the pre-existing categories of prohibited persons that included felons, fugitives, users of and persons addicted to controlled substances, and persons who have been adjudicated mentally defective or committed to mental institutions.

In addition, the SEA required that proprietors, owners, and corporate officers of companies that manufacture, sell, or import explosives submit fingerprint cards and photographs to the ATF with their license applications. It also mandated that the ATF inspect licensees' manufacturing and storage facilities at least once every three years. Finally, the SEA required the ATF to conduct background checks on all licensees, as well as all employees who have access to explosives as part of their work (Employee Possessors).3 In order to identify all prohibited persons, the ATF entered into an agreement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to perform these background checks.4

The SEA did not change the explosives types subject to the ATF's licensing authority,as defined in 18 U.S.C. 841, and it did not increase the number of explosives under the ATF's control. Most notably, it did not extend the ATF's regulatory authority over ammonium nitrate or other common chemicals that, when combined, become explosives.

But hey, the usual emotional (help! help! I'm being oppressed!) response was obtained.

proof of religious extremism (1, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191937)

If any one want proof of religious extremism, this is it. The religious fanatics have engineered the so called war on terror to push their own personal beliefs on everyone, limiting freedom and the american way. The examples are endless. Science threatens their belief, so they stifle science. Instead of letting the military dead rest in peace, the picket the funerals [nytimes.com] . I have even heard congregants tell me that their pastor bemoaned the increase in mosques in the US, saying that it signified the fall of civilization and the end of security, even though so-called christians seem to have no problem killing innocent women and children [wikipedia.org] .

This is not an attack on any group. it is just a reminder that our enemy is religious extremism in any form, and not just those that the extreme religious right might label terrorist. It is science, innovation, and a willingness to take risks that have gotten the US to where it is. We have safety, but we also have risk. For instance, we support research on biological agents even though there is a significant risk. Such research is critical. We allow guns even though guns can pose a risk. We allow drunk drivers to drive again, even though there is a risk. The later is a real eye opener. It is likely that, in the United States, more innocent persons are killed in one year from alcohol related accidents than in the past 10 years of terrorist attacks. In the face of this we spend perhaps half a trillion dollars on the foreign terrorists, but then let these domestic drunk terrorist [cnn.com] go free.

We are heading into a dark age in the US. An age where we crawl into our shells, cowards who are to scared to create. As dangerous as it was, I had a real chemistry set when I was a kid, and the familiarity allowed me to excel at classes that others did not. None of the stuff was foreign to me. Just like we give kids toy kitchen sets, and toy guns, and toy cars, and toy phones, so that when they have the real thing that will not be afraid, we must also give the toy science devices. As as they get older, and the kitchen and the gun and the cars get more real, so must the science. Even to the point of a full lab for the home schooler that wants the kid to have a broad education.

Re:proof of religious extremism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192007)

Science threatens their belief, so they stifle science.
yeah, a bunch of religious zealots got together in the back room of the local church/temple/synagogue and decided that the way to stifle science was to attack chemistry sets? wtf have you been smoking? the problem with fanatics and that they don't realize when their own shit sounds so stupid that they lose any credibility over their ravings.

And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192039)

What does that have to do with chemistry sets?

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192153)

Didn't you read it? It's the religious extremists who came together to ban chemistry sets. That's their big move in the war on science. What sad is that this fucktard still hasn't gotten modded down for being a raving lunatic.
Probably because half the fucks out there who screamed about how this is because Bush is a Nazi are actually taking this bullshit to heart.
We live in a nation that will let you have an abortion legally right up to zero hour and the best the religious fundies can do is ban chemistry sets? The more I read of these ravings the more I'm convinced that we have become our own worst enemy. Not because of any religious outreach but because the same fucks who use to be blown off as being neurotics and psychotics are now being taken seriously by idiots who can't afford to think for themselves regardless of how much they like to claim that they're intelligent.
Oh, that's right... it was Pat Robertson who had non-childproof lighters banned. Not the fucking liberal left who keeps passing legislation to save us from ourselves. You know, the same people who ban smoking in your own car, ban trans-fats and were the initial push to ban rocket engines [freerepublic.com] . That's right fuckers, look at the date on the article. Bush had nothing to do with it! Terrorism had nothing to do with it! We won't mention the left at all. No.

just use regular household and yard products (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21191957)

When I was a kid I used to mix #$%@#$%#$@ with ^*%^%%^* to make a great rocket fuel for launching magic markers. I did no serious damage... well there was the time I had 10 to 13 foot high flames coming out of a 7up can. After hosing out the fire it was about five years before a tree would grow to replace the nearby tree that died.

decrypted for you ... (1)

weighn (578357) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192057)

When I was a kid I used to mix Coca-Cola with Mentos to make a great rocket fuel.

After hosing out the fire it was about five years before a tree would grow to replace the nearby tree that died.
A couple of litres of Coke will do that.

Why would terrorists need a chemistry set... (2, Insightful)

drspliff (652992) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191967)

When you can buy fertiliser, sugar and petrolium by the tonne.

Oh noes, their going to blow up an air plain with some iron filings, potassium permanganate and some magnesium! Or use the test tubes to start up a methamphetamine lab!

Do you know why I cringe when I hear these stories? Because their going after the wrong thing with the wrong tactics, chemistry sets have long been a way to inspire kids about the stuff, some just don't get it, but others get an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't have to kickstart the process and get the interested and passionate about physics/chemistry at an early age.

Personally I'd rather see biochemistry sets/guides for kids, grow your own bacteria and such (I found it much more interesting than chemistry), but with the "threat" of anthrax breaking out any minute now I don't think they'd be politically correct (just as it seems limiting chemistry sets is "politically correct" in the US).

The sorry thing is, it's going to take you a long time to get these implicit rights back after the initial knee-jerk reaction.

Seems similar to the RIAA (2, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191981)

Seems similar to the RIAA and MPAA, something that Could be used to "pirate" music or make explosives we should ban!!! Be it BitTorrent, or chemistry sets, the only one that loses is the consumer, next I guess they will ban the internet or the selling of computers because as we know you can learn things that are illegal on the computer and you can rip CDs to put on your MP3 Player 111 *shift* !1!

man those were the days (3, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#21191987)

dissolving ants in hydrochoric acid, pouring bleach into ammonia and giving myself chemical pneumonia from chlorine gas, setting the house on fire with burning trails of isopropyl alcohol, fiddling with the mercury drops i squeezed out of that weird battery


Re:man those were the days (3, Funny)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192245)

pouring bleach into ammonia and giving myself chemical pneumonia from chlorine gas

That's the stuff that burned out your ability to use capital letters, eh? I knew there had to be a reason...

Back in my day (4, Interesting)

Caity (140482) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192003)

I remember getting a chemistry set when I was a kid (mid-eighties I suppose) and I think the most exciting thing I managed to do with it was to make some clear liquid turn red, then clear again.

It was rather disappointing when compared to some of my experiments with Things Found In Every Kitchen...

My (all girls) high school chemistry teacher expressed a lot of dismay at the changing laws about what chemicals she was allowed to show us. The education department provided these videos of "safe" demonstrations of the various properties of dangerous things that they were supposed to show us in lieu of a live demo. She'd show us the video... then swear us all to secrecy and produce an ancient brown jar of [sodium|sulfur|some other now banned chemical] from the bowels of the school's ancient chemical safe and repeat a fair portion of the experiments for us.

Sometimes it's good to go to an old school ... we only had to evacuate the building once (lesson learned: sulfur + fire = bad).

I'll never forget a particular class during organic chemistry. We'd made some crappy alcohol and were distilling it and she told us about how at university she and her classmates in the chemistry department used to have massive cocktail parties using the pure ethanol stock.

Not just the FBI (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192021)

Its a liability issue. Chem sets have been dumbed down for years lest some little tyke set their house on fire.

For the highly motivated, there is still "Fun With Mom's Cleaning Products" and "The Anarchists Cookbook".


timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192051)

K now i'm pissed off. this may not have happened in OZ yet but no doubt our own retard government officals will see this and copy.

I had one of these sets when i was a kid and it taught me a lot, and was one of THE things that got me interested in science. if we take away these things, we WILL lose future chemists that could very will invent life saving drugs.

i seriously don't see how the fuck they are a threat either. you can't really make any explosives out of them. i guess knowledge that's not controlled by the government is the target here.

Knowledge is power. Power is dangerous. Therefore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192063)

knowledge is dangerous. QED.


There's always household chemicals and the net (1)

nukeade (583009) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192109)

It problably doesn't help that the first thing every kid tries to do with his or her chemistry set is try to figure out how to make something that either burns or blows up. It's usually not the parents that think that the chemistry set is the terrorist training ground though--it's the geriatric neighbors. My brother and I had the cops called on us numerous times for chemistry related antics. Once my brother and I mixed some chemicals to make flammable gas (Hydrogen, I think), bottled them up tightly, lit a candle and plugged the hole with it. When the candle burned down, the gas (under pressure) first released around the candle making a stream of fire, then the candle dropped in and the whole container blew, spraying the side of the house and the neighbors' lawns with plastic shrapnel. My dad came running out to the window we watched through, where we were laughing hysterically. "What was that?" "It was a bomb." "Cool! I think I have another bottle here. Make another one."

The cops came and gave us a warning about fireworks.


Old Chemistry Sets Ruled (1)

One Childish N00b (780549) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192141)

I'm British, so it's not counter-terrorism that's taken the chemistry kits off our shelves, it's the health and safety obsession, but the result is the same. With my first chemistry set, I managed to mix the chemicals together in a test tube to produce something that was bright pink, hot to the touch and took a layer of enamel off the sink when I tried to pour it away, and *THAT*'s precisely what got me interested in science in the first place. Alright, my parents weren't too happy at the damage to the bathroom, but it sparked a curiosity in me that's still burning the better part of two decades later (thankfully, the sink isn't - a bit of cold water put it right out).

The chemistry sets of today are boring, and are just going to reinforce the view that too many kids these days have that science is boring - you'd be lucky if you even got some odd-coloured smoke out of the chemistry sets you see on the shelves nowadays.

They succeeded. (2, Insightful)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192157)

The terrorists have successfully attacked our imagination.

Well, just like the Lawn Dart and the steel dash (2, Funny)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192165)

There are a lot of things that have changes. The Lawn Dart was the original version of the game college kids now use beanbags to throw into distant circles, usually holes in a wood box; I forget the name. Oh, no...it was a nearly foot-long object with about 1/2 of it metal, flung downrange to a yellow, tubular target. I'm sure someone, somewhere got hurt on them, but not if they were using them carefully. They weren't really sharp, outta the box.

And steel dashboards used to be the rage; I remember the one on our 1963 International Travellall was nothing but a flat plate, screwed to a rounded metal dash, and you could swap out gauges with your International tractor, if need be. It was very cool; huge, as fuel was cheap before the Carter Administration, came with a tailgate, an electric glass rear window, and plenty of room around the engine to work, under a hood that held itself up with springs. I'm amazed the danger of this rolling house-o-horrors didn't strike us on the salesfloor. :)

But things change; they have to. I can remember dozens of times hearing about a friend or relative mixing sodium and water because the effect was "cool". And probably the most popular effect was making stink bombs. But I suppose like the erector set before it, it's time had to come.

Now that GI Joe is becoming some watered-down blue-helmeted dweeb, when he was once a huge man-doll with a huge Jeep and weapons, I don't think the change in the toys seems to have followed the politically-correct crowd, too. And just for the record: No Conservative nor Republican was the source of this nonsense. Say what you will, "PC" is from the mouths of grown-up hippies.

Sorry, guys; you would have loved a childhood in the early 60's and 70's.

Not sure if this is accurate... (4, Insightful)

PortHaven (242123) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192203)

I've seen this trend for a while, and it predates 9-11.

I believe the issue is more of a "legal" than "security" issue. I think the high risk of lawsuits is what's killing these kits. In the old days, if you let your kids be unsupervized and they started eating the chemicals - you were considered a bad parent with a stupid kid. Now days, parents tell the kids to eat the chemicals in hopes of a winning lawsuit so they don't have to work anymore.

How many classic toys have gone the way of the dino because of our stupid frivolous legal system and lack of responsibility culture. I mean, Burger King/McDonald's (one of the two) had these flying princesses. They spin, their wings fly out and they whirl into the sky like helicopters. "Recalled and banned!" Why? Because they're uber dangerous. The fly toy might just land on the child's head. We can't have that. (Not like a baseball isn't a 100x more deadly - but we're not going to ban those.)

Bah...this plan deserves to be turned into an intergalactic entranceway.

Another one bites the dust... (0, Flamebait)

ZephyrXero (750822) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192229)

The Terrorists Have Won!

...and by Terrorists, I mean Bush, Cheney, Giuliani and all the other fearmongering neocons...

Science is mans most powerful tool. (1)

jon287 (977520) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192261)

All powerful tools can do both great harm and great good.

You may either accept this risk and enjoy the benefits of science or crawl back to the safety of your cave.

But make no mistake, those are the choices.

Maybe this is why (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192267)

In Texas - you need to register to use lab apparatus like condensor, flasks etc whereas you don't need to register for handgun - http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/criminal_law_enforcement/narcotics/pages/chemicalsapparatus.htm [state.tx.us]
I have used half the apparatus mentioned in the above list.

No wonder home chemistry sets are dying. The priorities are messed up.

Just an afterthought:
Do we sue the gun makers when people get shot.....
My head just exploded.

Fun toys for kids (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#21192273)

I'm just buying the kids on my list the two types of drain cleaner (conveniently located next to each other at Home Depot -- NaOH (in both solutions and crystals) and H2SO4 solutions), and some commercial cleaning fluids (acetic acid, ammonia, HCl, CCl4.. oops, that one really is hard to get).

No instructions, though. If they can't figure out how to blow up the house on their own, they're no kids I want anything to do with.

Still fun to be had. (1)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192283)

There's still fun to be had in chemistry. If kids really wanted to learn about chemistry, they certainly can, but it's become something to be afraid of. Even in high school, kids were afraid to light the bunson burner....

However, when I was 13, I started visiting http://www.roguesci.org/ [roguesci.org]
I've always gotten my chemicals and various tools over the internet, and I've never really been questioned. It has become slightly more difficult though, as Skylighter changed their requirements.... but there are still chemical suppliers out there that'll sell to anyone with a debit card.

I'm now 19, and my fourth of July's are pretty damned fun.

PS: eBay's a great place for bulk AL powder w/o paperwork.

Best currently available set (2, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192285)

Some brief web surfing turned up Chem C3000 [thamesandkosmos.com] as being the best available. The glassware to chemical ratio is much higher than the sets of yore with racks [timewarptoys.com] and racks [timewarptoys.com] of little bottles of chemicals. I remember chemistry sets used to be advertised by the number of chemicals -- now it seems to be the number of "experiments".

Counterintuitive? (1)

mellowjen (824361) | more than 7 years ago | (#21192289)

Isn't there a current trend in our educational system where students are deviating from following math and science programs to pursue more "fun" fields? (This last part is debatable and I'm a bit biased ;) There have been so many initiatives to get people interested once again in these fields (such as IBM sponsoring its own program, the backlash of computer scientists regaining control of the field to prevent further outsourcing, etc).. Wouldn't this undo these efforts by preventing a child from being curious? I remember my first chemistry kit - it amazed and awed me, really got me thinking, made me even more curious.. shouldn't we be trying to make children more and not less likely to *think* outside of school, on their time and find it to be enjoyable!? Sigh..
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