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From: Alan Meiss, ameiss#NoSpam.gn.ecn.purdue.edu

         Wherein the author relates the Tale of the Exploding Pen.

     Everyone who's taken high school chemistry probably has some
entertaining stories of experiments not included in the syllabus, myself
included. A friend and I did a great deal of spontaneous research in our
class involving myriad flame tests and chemical combinations "Mother Nature
never intended." I recall one time when the teacher left the room, and my
friend dashed into the storeroom in the back to see what he could filch. He
returned with a heaping handful of silver nitrate powder, which isn't
exactly recommended handling procedure for this chemical. When rapid
discomfort made him dispose of this material, the rest of us observed to
our amazement that his entire hand had turned silver. By the end of the day
it had turned purple. But all this, of course, is peripheral to the Tale of
the Exploding Pen.
     One day in Chemistry class we were using calcium metal, which reacts
with water to give off hydrogen gas and heat. This was definitely Nifty,
and I saved several pieces. It became a source of amusement to drop it in a
puddle of water and watch it bubble and sputter, then quickly hand it to
someone during a quiet class to provoke an alarmed bellow (the stuff got
pretty hot). By the afternoon I had one piece left, which I, based on
thought processes that now entirely elude me, stored, along with some
water, in my pen, one of those Bic Biros with the large white barrel and
detachable endcap. It soon slipped my mind that I'd done this, and I went
on my way to Biology class. Midway through class, we were wrapping up an
experiment, with the teacher giving a lecture and the class taking notes. I
was standing in the back of the room, writing down final data from our
petri dishes of E. Coli, when my pen exploded. It was very loud, louder
than a firecracker, and I looked up to see every face in the class staring
at me and the remnant of my pen with great alarm. The resulting silence was
finally broken when someone muttered "his pen exploded!" I tried to play it
cool, giving my pen as cursory an inspection as possible, as if this were a
frequent occurence of little concern, and returned to an extroadinarily
studious job of note-taking. The teacher just smiled and continued the
lecture in a bit; I guess he was used to this sort of thing.
     We had some other interesting experiences in this biology course,
including the development of Live Chicken Bowling, and the concealment of
chickens in people's personal belongings. In one class I remember, one of
the kids wadded up paper towels into a foot-wide ball, and for reasons I
don't fathom arrived at the decision to set it on fire when the teacher
left the room. Too late it occcurred to him that a large ball of fire is
fairly conspicuous in a classroom setting, so he stuffed it into the lab
drawer beside his desk just before the teacher returned. The sudden earnest
interest in the lecture he tried to demonstrate was not enough to distract
from the smoke rising from his desk, however, and he got in a significant
amount of trouble.
     But let me return once again to Chemistry class. In all, it was a
fairly boring class, and we even had to pursue non- flammable
entertainment. I programmed a Blackjack game on my pocket computer, and we
would pass it around the class for all to play. A lively betting pool would
sometimes start when the score got high. One day we managed to play a full
game of Risk in the back of the room during lecture. Some of us would spend
a half an hour at a stretch duplicating Muppet noises from Sesame Street
episodes: "Tiiiick Tooooock BrrrrrrrRING! Yupyupyupyup". Others would
interupt any rare quiet moments by yanking leg hairs from other guys
wearing shorts. None of this infantilism, however, can compare to the
mayhem related to me by one of my roommates that went on in his own high
school chemistry class.
     He had a particularly anarchic chem class that seemed to involve an
impressive amount of pyrotechnics. On one occassion, someone threw a
fist-sized chunk of potassium metal in a sink full of water, which
destroyed it (both sink and water) with a great shower of sparks. Another
time his classmates covered an entire desktop with infamous nitrogren
tri-iodide, an unstable compound made from ammonia and iodine that explodes
when touched, leaving purple stains. They detonated it by throwing a paper
airplane, blowing the top off the desk. In an act of tremendous stupidity,
they filled an entire liter beaker with the gray incendiary material from
sparklers, and when some fool tossed in a match, the resulting column of
fire burned holes in both the table and ceiling. In an extra-curriculur
adventure, they piled a mound of thermite they'd prepared in class on a
particularly despised person's driveway. When ignited, it blasted a foot
wide hole through the concrete and down to the dirt. Their most notable
"achievement", however, was placing in someone's locker in a dish of water
a large chunk of some unknown material that gives off noxious odors when
moist. He said that the resulting nauseating stench spread through the
entire school. One girl barfed in mid-sprint to the bathroom, and the
school had to evacuate the building and cancel classes for the rest of the
day. In an entire semester of Chemistry class, his only remotely
educational experience was learning to make soap, and he had to repeat the
subject here at Purdue, minus the pyrotechnics.

physics chemistry biology
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From: junep#NoSpam.bu.edu (June Peckingham)
I recall those days of high school

science pranks well.  (although our chem teacher was much to smart to ever
leave sodium of potassium where we could find it).

-Earth Science - learning to burn skin with a magnifying
        glass.  Also learned that chalk, when heated with
        a magnifying glass, will explode.
-Biology - Actively participated in an experiment to
        kill the mutant fish that lived in the aquarium.
        We tried everything - soda, windex, acid.  These
        guys were tough.  The other high point of bio
        was having a frog pee down my friend's arm, cool.
-Chemistry - In a neighboring school one of the hooligans
        superglued everything in the classroom.  The
        teacher was infuriated.  When he went to sit down
        he found that his chair was also stuck in place.
        He did succeed in moving it, only by removing the
        four floor tiles it was glued to.  My high school
        chem teacher was too scary to try anything fun on.
        I did manage to light a table on fire though.
-Physics - Our physics teacher was cool.  He let us form
        a line into the hall and use the power of the Van
        de Graph generator to shock passers by. hehe.  We
        also got to chop a large block of wood off his
        stomach to demonstrate inertia.  He taught us the
        'to every force there is an equal and opposite..'
        by throwing himself against a wall while wearing
        roller skates.

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From: "Ted Smith" <tcsmith#NoSpam.calweb.com>
                        The Best Teacher I Ever Had

Mr. Whitson taught sixth-grade science.  On the first day of class, he gave
us a lecture about a creature called the cattywampus, an ill-adapted
nocturnal animal that was wiped out during the Ice Age.  He passed around a
skull as he talked.  We all took notes and later had a quiz.

When he returned my paper, I was shocked.  There was a big red X through
each of my answers.  I had failed.  There had to be some mistake!  I had
written down exactly what Mr. Whitson said.  Then I realized that everyone
in the class had failed.  What had happened?

Very simple, Mr. Whitson explained.  He had made up all that stuff about
the cattywampus.  There had never been such an animal.  The information in
our notes was, therefore, incorrect.  Did we expect credit for incorrect

Needless to say, we were outraged.  What kind of test was this?  And what
kind of teacher?

We should have figured it out, Mr. Whitson said.  After all, at the very
moment he was passing around the Cattywampus skull (in truth, a cat's),
hadn't he been telling us that no trace of the animal remained?  He had
described its amazing night vision, the color of its fur and any number of
other facts he couldn't have known.  He had given the animal a ridiculous
name, and we still hadn't been suspicious.  The zeroes on our papers would
be recorded in his grade book, he said.  And they were.

Mr. Whitson said he hoped we would learn something from this experience.
Teachers and textbooks are not infallible.  In fact, on one is.  He told us
not to let our minds go to sleep, and to speak up if we ever thought he or
the textbook was wrong.

Every class was an adventure with Mr. Whitson.  I can still remember some
science periods almost from beginning to end.  One day he told us that his
Volkswagen was a living organism.  It took us two full days to put together
a refutation he would accept.  He didn't let use off the hook until we had
proved not only that we knew what an organism was but also that we had the
fortitude to stand up for the truth.

We carried our brand-new skepticism into all our classes.  This caused
problems for the other teachers, who weren't used to being challenged.  Our
history teacher would be lecturing about something, and then there would be
clearings of the throat and someone would say "Cattywampus."

If I'm ever asked to propose a solution to the crisis in our schools, it
will be Mr. Whitson.  I haven't made any great scientific discoveries, but
Mr. Whitson's class gave me and my classmates something just as important:
the courage to look people in the eye and tell them they are wrong.  He
also showed us that you can have fun doing it.

Not everyone sees the value in this.  I once told an elementary school
teacher about Mr. Whitson.  The teacher was appalled.  "He shouldn't have
tricked you like that," he said.  I looked at the teacher right in the eye
and told him he was wrong.

(By David Owen, published in Life, October '90)

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Februari 22
December 23

From Jens_Kilian#NoSpam.bbn.hp.com

I remember a Christmas physics lecture on acoustics where the prof first
breathed helium to demonstrate the well know "squeaky voice" effect, then
proceeded to do the same thing with a heavy gas (might have been the stuff
mentioned above).  After that, he had his assistants stand him on his head
for the stuff to drain out.  Needless to say, by that time everybody in the
place was screaming with laughter.

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From: vddwesco#NoSpam.us.ibm.com (David Wescott)

As a kid in 9th grade, my first real science class where we got to do
things with bunsen burners and chemicals, instead of just watching tubes of
beef broth rot, my teacher was demonstrating how to make and collect
ammonia gas. Holding the flask upside down over the output tube, nothing
happened. He said something like 'you all think that nothing has happened
here, I take it?' and called me up. He said sniff the flask, and having
forgotten the lesson of 'Don't lean over to sniff', I leaned over to
sniff. Several minutes later, my eyes stopped watering, the class stopped
laughing, and the teacher said 'Thank you for a demonstration both of the
fact that there IS ammonia gas, and the INCORRECT way to detect it.'

He was cool...<grin> That class was a lot of fun...

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From: "Ben Davis" <Ben.Davis#NoSpam.otaotr.com>

When I was working in a lab at Rutgers, a co-worker told me an entertaining
 story about her human anatomy instructor in med school. The instructor
 decided to test the resilience of the class by playing a little joke on
 them. The first time the class was called into the lab, they were asked to
 observe a demonstration on how to identify organs in the abdomen. The
 class gathered around their instructor & the cadaver as he began going
 through the organs and reciting their nomenclature. When he got to the
 stomach, he asks, "anyone want to see what this fellla had for lunch?" At
 this point most of the students have begun to feel a bit queasy, as many
 do upon their first run-in with a human cadaver. Needless to say, they're
 not the ones paying very close attention to what's going on. The
 instructor then proceeded to reach into the stomach of the John Doe and
 exclaim, "Hey! Tuna fish!" pulls off one of his latex gloves, scooped out
 some with his fingers and popped it into his mouth.!  Most of the students
 ran screaming/vomiting from the room. About eight of them actually stood
 there laughing at everyone else's reaction.

How did he do it?  Prior to the class, he and his aide had prepared the
tuna fish surprise by placing a sealed plastic lunch bag filled with John
Doe's "lunch" into the cadaver just under the stomach. When he knew a
majority of the class wouldn't be paying particularly close attention, he
removed one glove, pried open the bag with his gloved hand and removed the
tuna with his clean, freshly ungloved hand. Voila, formaldehyde-free

The class was later told, "For those of you who ran out of the room, you
will probably see much worse things in the medical field than what you saw
today. I recommend you reconsider your majors. The other eight will most
likely make excellent medical doctors, congratulations."

At that point, my co-worker obviously chose to redirect her studies towards

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From: "cleojo" <cleojo#NoSpam.gateway.net>

When I was in high school, I had an awesome biology instructor, Mr. Mateka,
or Teak as we called him. When a freshman, he went somewhere for a
conference and left us a sub who knew nothing about biology. He was under
the assumption that we would get at least a sub who knew something about
science, so he gave us these really long assignments. However, the sub
wouldn't let us out of our seats to get the books to do the assignments.
After the three days, our teacher found that there were no books left in
the room. There were a good 10 bookcases in that room, and we managed to
hide all of the books. There were some in the ceiling, under the lab tables
on the water and gas lines, underneath tables, in places that haven't been
looked at in years. When he came back, he actually understood that we
couldn't find the answers. 5 years later, they are still finding books.

In the same instructors class, we had a lab ghost. This was the thing that
we blamed when our labs wouldn't work, the computer was down, or anything
else went wrong. Our senior year we decided to personify the ghost. Before
spring break we hooked up the lab aprons from the ceiling, disconnected the
lights, hooked up an oscillating fan and a strobe light, and tied water
filled rubber gloves to all knobs and handles that would open a
door. Monday morning after break, the janitors turned on the power at about
6:30 am. With the strobe, the classroom from the outside was VERY
noticeable. The janitors were afraid to enter the room. When the instructor
finally did, he was very impressed with our skills. It was very interesting
to see his face. The only comment he made, was that it was more appropriate
for Halloween.  He was the person that inspired me to become a teacher.

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From: "Mairead O'Connor" <mko22#NoSpam.cam.ac.uk>

The best chemistry lecture I ever had was in the first year of my undergrad
course. The lecturer had some liquid oxgen in a test tube with a magnet to
demonstrate its paramagnetism. So far, so dull.

Then he announced that since he'd carried the liquid oxygen all the way
upstairs, he wasn't taking the spare stuff back to stores; instead he'd do
a few more demonstations. First, he doused a cigarettte witht he stuff,
holding it in tongs, and lit it. The flame travelled down it in a few
seconds. Then he did the same with a digestive biscuit, which burned
satisfyingly for at least a minute.

Best of all however, was his final exhibit. Behind a large safety screen,
he filled a bowl with rice crispies, and poured on the liquid oxygen, as
you would with milk. Then, standing a long way back, he took a very long
stick with burning spill on the end and lit it. The flaming rice crispies
shot up ten feet into the air, like a cascading fountain, so bright that it
hurt our eyes. It was beautiful. But I'm very glad I was sat at the back of
the hall and not in the front row!

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From: Donald Haarmann (excerpt)

 Finally, there is the case of explosives scientist who fabricated an ash
tray from cast TNT and kept it on his office desk for the use of visitors,
only revealing its nature after they had extinguished a cigarette in it
with no untoward results.

mathematics physics chemistry
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From: "Michael Morley" <Mike#NoSpam.morleysoft.freeserve.co.uk>

Our chemistry teacher was demonstrating to us the alkali metals. Being year
10 (14 year old) students we knew they were only _meant_ to use a rice
grain sized lump. Anyway, we encouraged him to put in large lumps. At the
end, he got fairly large lumps of each and chucked them all into the water
at once. The potassium exploded and burning fragments melted holes in my
pen, burnt my book and the floor. It also burned a hole about a cm across
into a text book. After the lesson he went to boast to all the other
chemistry teachers!!

The same teacher was demontrating rates of reaction. He put some hydrogen
peroxide into a conical flask and added several large drops of blood from a
jar of chicken livers to it. He put a bung in (this was connected to a gas
syringe). The reaction started and soon a white froth was pushing up the
rubber tubing and into the gas syringe. then with a _very_ loud pop, the
bung flew out and he was left covered in this white gunk. The whole class
laughed for about 5 minutes!

The same chemistry teacher poored ethanol on the bench and lit it. He also
writes messages in ethanol and lights them. He attaches rubber tubing to a
gas tap, lights it and waves it around the class without a care.

All the chemistry teachers at our school have a competiton. They pour water
into a coffee tin, hammer the lid on and put a bunsen under it. They try to
make the largest dent in the ceiling. This is especially diffficult in
biology labs where the ceiling is about 12-foot high.

Our physics teacher told us that when he was training as a teacher, he had
electrolyised some water. He then oppened the two taps and lit the combined
hydrogen and oxygen - and deafened the whole class!

Our maths teacher refuses to use the same variable mor than once in one
lesson so we often end up using smiley-face as a variable

At last!! A use for graph theory!! We simply calculate the maximum spanning
tree to get from one classroom to another and thus miss most of the boring

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From: pkukla#NoSpam.silver.ucs.indiana.edu (Peter Kukla)

  When I was in High School, one of my classmates was having a serious
problem with people stealing his lunch.  Every day it disappeared from his
locker (don't recall whether his lock was broken off or what.)  Complaining
to the principal did no good, so he went to his father, a pharmacist.
  His father gave him some substance (Silver Nitrate) which didn't discolor
the food, but which turned your skin black or purple when you came in
contact with it.
  This guy liberally coated his food with it, and waited.  I was fortunate
enough to see the results.
 Another classmate, who had ostensibly gone to the bathroom, returned to
the math class, hiding his hands and face as best he could.  It didn't work
- his dyed skin was obvious.  A cohort of his didn't even bother to return
to class, he just fled the school for the day.

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From: "Scott Jॊger" <syeager#NoSpam.destruction.dyn.ml.org>

 I remember my 10th grade highschool chem 1 class.  I was a prety
intelligent person at the time, for my age.  One day we decided to play a
prank on the class, scared the shit out of the whole bunch of them.  Took
some potassium, a beaker, a very large baloon, and a lighter.  Stuck some
water, and potassium in the baker, and placed the baloon over it.. We all
know that will produce hydrogen, so we let the baloon off the beaker,
closed it off, and let it be passed around the room for a while.  The
teacher started to get curious about what we were doing (he couldn't see us
doing this).  We finally decided to light it up, right in the middle of a
small chapter test.  Letting the baloon go, someone stuck it with one of
those grill lighters.  The baloon exploded into a large ball of fire, and
an interesting noise followed.  The smartass who lit it up had no hair on
his arms anymore, and we had no grade in chem 1.  ohwell.

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From: meyerar#NoSpam.scooby.beloit.edu (Arden Meyer)

When I was in High School, my chemistry teacher had the privilege of
scaring most of the freshman chem class.  He had a wooden cutting block set
out on the bench at the front of the class, with a large butcher's knife.
After everyone took their seats, he produced an apple, two 200 mL beakers
containing clear fluid, an empty 500 mL beaker, and an eye dropper.  He
proceeded to cut the apple in half, and then place the knife back in a
locked drawer (he didn't trust us!).  With the dropper, he squirted some of
liquid A onto one half of the apple, and we all saw it eat away at the
apple rather quickly.  Then, after rinsing the dropper, he squirted some of
liquid B onto the remaining half of the apple, which also ate it away.  He
then poured liquid A and liquid B into the 500 mL beaker, and swirled the
mixture for a few moments (about twenty seconds).  He then downed the whole
thing in one big swallow!

As it turned out, liquid A was hydrocloric acid, and liquid B was sodium
hydroxide.  They were both of the same molarity, and so when mixed, they
produced salt water.  The most interesting happening of this was the next
year, when a young lady passed out as the teacher swallowed his drink...

## if you have the stupidity to try this, make sure you know alot about
chemistry and that you get the concentrations right!!! ##

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From: Chris Ingram <ingramc#NoSpam.csdc02.orl.lmco.com>

 This prank is very similar to one you have listed, except it backfired.
Our high school chemistry teacher used equal molarity solutions of HCl and
NaOH, mixed them and drank them in front of class. While he did not burn
his gullet, he did use phenothalene as the indicator. He later learned (or
remembered) that phenolthalene is the main ingredient in many laxatives and
paid dearly for his mistake over the next several days.

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From: Trish or CJ <TBC104#NoSpam.psuvm.psu.edu>

 When I was in high school I pulled off this particular prank.  This one
guy in the class was always pissing me off, so I conspired to make a fool
of him in front of the class.  The next day during chem lab, we were
informed that we would be using concentrated sulfuric acid, which is clear.
Anyway, during the lab, I took the beaker full of sulfuric acid (and this
is the kind of stuff that burns through flesh) and hid it behind a desk.  I
then filled an identical beaker full of steaming-hot, but not burning-hot
water.  I used a wax pencil to write on the outside.  'Concentrated
Sulfuric Acid'.  Then I walked over to this guy that was pissing me off and
got his attention.  I took a medicine dropper, filled it with the stuff
(which he thought was acid) and shot it all over his face.  It was hot
water, so he thought he was burning!  He started screaming, 'Cj threw acid
on me!!!' And promptly began thrashing and shrieking.  Everyone stared at
me.  Then I held the beaker aloft, threw my head back and drank the whole
thing.  The teacher nearly dropped dead on the spot.  The rest you can just
imagine.  --CJ Calo

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From: gandalf#NoSpam.gibeah.connected.com (Gandalf the Grey)

Ammonium tri-iodide is an extremely fun chemical.  But you have to be
careful.  My chem prof played a really cool joke on this really annoying
bastard in my class.  Real pop-off, and he deserved it.  You simply fix
iodine crystals (expensive) and ammonia (roughtly as much as the crystals
can dissolve into).  While it is liquid, it's reasonably safe.  Don't use
more than a drop on anything, since it will explode once it's dry, and can
be dangerous.

However, when placed on a countertop in a very small amount, the first
person to touch it gets quite a surprise and a stain on their skin and
doesn't come off easily.  Hilarious actually.  I've only made it once,

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From: eapu160#NoSpam.rigel.oac.uci.edu (Mr. Wizard)

I know that this doesn't really count as a "prank", but once in high school
chem we were doing potassium experiments, and there were 36 students (so
there were 37 people including the teacher).  Each student has 20 test
tubes full of water and into each one he or she places a small amount of
potassium (the experiment was supposed to test the production of hydrogen.)
After the experiment, each person puts the test tubes into a central trash
can (for those of you slow in math, that's 740 test tubes EACH ONE of which
is pumping out hydrogen.)  Later on we were doing tests with glowing
splints, and the teacher said "don't put a burning splint into the trash
can" (for obvious reasons) Well, one girl thought that a glowing splint
(not burning) would be ok.  All I can say is that the column of red flame
was more spectacular than any movie nuclear blast!  In fact, to this day (6
years later), there is still a very large burn mark on the ceiling of that

Another one with the same teacher was another potassium mishap.  Since
potassium cannot be stored in water, it is stored in a sort of oil.  Well,
he took a golf-ball size chunk and held it in is hand as he cut it.  Un-
fortunately, the oil was slippery and the chunk fell into the beaker.
Well, what happened was that the beaker EXPLODED and impaled the teacher
with several bits of glass (he was in hospital for a day or two) and the
desk was strewn with a hundred or so pock-marks.

However, one real prank was with the SAME teacher was in order to keep
sanity and good behaviour in class, he would keep 2 squirt guns with him.
One with water, and the other with SILVER NITRATE SOLUTION.  (this stuff
looks just like water but it turns skin BLACK on contact) He shot about 4
people during the year, but only one girl (the same one with the hydrogen)
got the silver nitrate (on the FACE!!!).

Finally, this was one I did in college.  My first year in the dorms, I
would keep a bottle of root beer which someone would continually drink
without my knowing.  After I couldn't stand it anymore, I went to a friend
in the chem dept. and asked him for an acid/base indicator that turns base
pink (I forget what the indicator was), and put a bit in my root beer
bottle.  The plan was that human urine is somewhat base, so when the
culprit drank my root beer, he began to pee pink.  Needless to say, about
12 hours later, this guy thought he was gonna die!

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From: daudo#NoSpam.bcars201.bnr.ca (Dau Do)

Yeah, these stories remind me about my science teacher.  He's used to wear
a prescripted sunglass so that no one knew that he's sleeping while
students were writing test.  Anyway, after one of the experiments that used
acids, one guy in my class pour the acid on his desk.  He didn't know and
took off his glass put on the wet spot.  When he put it on again, his skin
burned left a red circular around his eyes ...

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From: lister#NoSpam.dbreath.uucp (Lister)

        Well I am a Medical Technologist, and through the years in the
field we have pulled some good jokes. One of the funny ones I can remember
is a day when I was working in Hematology. One of the other techs, that was
working in Chemistry, was this real whining hypochondriac. Well he came
over to me telling me that he felt really sick and was wondering if I would
run A CBC and Differential on him. So I drew his blood and labeled it and
it to hematology and ran it.. It was normal as normal could be, but I
decided to have a bit of fun. Earlier in the day a known CLL patient had
been in and gave some blood, so I took one of the extra tubes, poured it
into a new tube and labeled it with this techs info (making sure to make a
mark as to not confuse the real sample up). Well I ran the CLL pt. blood
and made a smear, then I went over to him and said "you had better take a
look at this". He came over and looked at the results and then looked at
the smear, and went a bit pale and said that I must have mixed it up, with
somebody else. So I gave him the falsely labeled tube and he ran it himself
getting the same results. You should have seen his face I thought he was
gonna Die right there! Anyway I let him suffer for about 2 min. or so then
gave him the real results and from the look on his face I though I was
gonna die!

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  What follows is not an invented joke, but a true story, although I may
have embellished it a little over many years of telling. "Sister Karen" was
a nun and a Chemistry teacher who had come to work on her Master's degree
with my now retired colleague Prof Herbert Meislich , who happens to be
Jewish. Her first task was to monobrominate a ketone. She added her Br2,
and started the stirrer as instructed....nothing happened ..... STILL no
decolorisation...... after some time she is getting worried, and asks
another student, who told her - "See that man over there - that's Prof
McKelvie, ask him" A slightly out of breath nun comes up to me - "Prof
McKelvie? My reaction won't work !" My evil mind was thinking WHICH of her
reactions was not working, but that's another story. ) Anyway, I could have
told her that bromination is dependent on making the enol, and this is
promoted ny acid, so that the HBr produced will aid enolisation and all
will be well. BUT - that morning I'd found on the floor a Star of David
that had fallen off some Jewish girl's neck, and I'd been looking for the
owner... INSPIRATION! - the problem is that you've had the wrong
theoretical training ! Just a moment ....I tied the Star of David around
her apparatus, added a few drops of hydrochloric acid just to help things
along, and announced that NOW it would work in five minutes ! It took four
minutes and 50 seconds by my watch. "SEE?!" She had the brains and a good
Irish sense of humour to realise she was being "had", and I explained that
it was her Organic Chemistry that was being deficient, not theology......

(Aftermath - two Jewish girls came down from upstairs and wanted to borrow
the gold chain so that THEIR reactions would work better........)
 Neil McKelvie

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From: <U58563#NoSpam.uicvm.uic.edu>

 "Back when I was taking Chemistry 101, my instructor did a little
demonstration" [this is the proper start for this Urban Legend]

"He pointed to a large beaker on the table full of yellow liquid. He said:
The first thing a chemist must learn is not to be disgusted by anything.
This is a beaker of horse urine. The simplest way to determine if the horse
is diabetic (dipping his finger in the beaker) has always been to simply
taste for sugar! (licking his finger!)"

"Is there anyone here willing to demonstrate?" and a big guy from a
fraternity came up with a grin on his face to taste the "urine", knowing it
was a gag. He dipped his finger in the "urine" and licked it dry --- and
from the expression on his face, it really was urine!

"The second thing a chemist must learn is to be observant! (Holding up his
hand, the professor demonstrates.) I dipped the _other_ finger!!!"

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From: Terry Simonds <fsimonds#NoSpam.icanect.net>

 When in high school, a chemistry professor was giving us a lecture on
qualitative analysis of a substance. He mentioned color, consistency,
weight, taste, etc., admonishing us to exercise our powers of observation
above all.  He pulled a small beaker of yellowish liquid from under the
bench and began to call out its characteristics.

"This is a sample of some urine from my goat (yes, he had a pet
goat...). If you will notice, it is a liquid, somewhat yellowish in color,
but translucent." He then thrust his hand down into the beaker, rapidly
withdrawing it and sticking a finger in his mouth, ostensibly tasting the

We gasped; one started retching. He then explained. "I mentioned
'observation,' ladies and gentlemen. If you had been oberving closely, you
would have seen me insert my index finger in the urine and then lick my
middle finger."

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From: wa4qal#NoSpam.vnet.ibm.com (Dave)

 In my freshman chemistry class (many years ago), the first day was
allocated to a talk about chemistry (what it is, why it's important, how it
affects our lives, blah, blah, blah). To illustrate this talk, Doc carried
in two beakers filled with clear liquids. As he progressed through the
talk, he would ocassionally pick up one of the beakers and swirl it (Thus
confirming that it really was filled with a liquid). Toward the end of the
talk, he would pick up both beakers and swirl them. Next, he would start
pouring the liquids from one beaker into the other repeatedly (Thus really
proving that they contained liquids). Finally, he would walk around the
podium, while still swirling the beaker containing both sets of contents,
and stop in front of some glazed-eyed student. As he finished his lecture
with the statement 'This is why chemistry is important to you.', he would
slosh the beaker toward the student, who never failed to dive for cover. Of
course, the chemicals had reacted and formed a gelatin which stuck to the
bottom of the beaker. Therefore nothing came out.

Well, at least, that's the way it was supposed to work. The next year, one
of the graduate students intercepted Doc on the way to the class, and
switched beakers with him, replacing one of the chemicals with water. I'm
not sure who was more surprised that year, the student who ended up with a
lap full of chemicals, or Doc.

P.S. He should have known something was up, what with all of the graduate
students clustered outside of the classroom door...

P.P.S. I actually witnessed the 'dry' version of the trick, but I wasn't
lucky enough to have witnessed the 'wet' version, although I did hear about
it from several (many) credible witnesses.

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From: Darren Schilberg <dschilberg#NoSpam.pobox.com>
  My dad told me this one and I absolutely MUST see someone try it again.
His Chem professor was showing the awesome powers of liquid nitrogen (not
to be attempted at home) where a banana is used to hammer in a nail and a
balloon shatters when hit with a frozen rose. However, the best prank of
all with liquid nitrogen has to be this one.
  Before the prank is pulled (or before the class fills up), a Vienna
sausage is placed in the finger of a rubber glove and set on the table.
Then a bowl of liquid nitrogen is obtained. Now when the students file in
they will think everything is typical.
   After the balloon and banana trick with the liquid nitrogen the teacher
puts his hand into the rubber glove and tries to remember which one he
placed the Vienna sausage in. Next he dips THAT finger in the liquid
nitrogen, grabs a hammer, and smashed the frozen Vienna sausage. This will
make it look as if real meat is flying across the room.
   My dad said that several girls in the class passed out after this prank,
so make sure the students are situated near the floor to prevent any
injuries. Hope you enjoy the prank.

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From: andrewr#NoSpam.wormald.com.au (Andrew Rodgers)

 This is a practical joke I played on a Biology Teacher.

When dissecting frogs, toads, mice or rats, cut out the tongue of the
animal and discard. Next, cut out the liver (or kidney) and shove it in the
animals mouth. After you have covered your tracks, and included the rest of
the class in the little joke, stick your hand up and ask the teacher why
the animals tongue is so swollen. Sit back, relax, and have a bit of a
giggle at the explanations.

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From: "Raleigh C. Perry" <rperry#NoSpam.mindspring.com> When in a high school
chemistry class in the early 60's I had the joke of laboratory assistant.
After a few weeks on the job, it was evident that I had a firm appreciation
of chemistry and that there was much fun latent in the chemicals over which
I had control.

The instructor was bright and well prepared.  However, she had never en-
countered such as my partner and me.  Each Friday on cleaning up the lab we
would take the drain cock out of the trap on the teacher's sink draining
all of the water out.  On Monday, refitting the lab for the experiments for
the week, we would place about 1/2 a teaspoon of metal sodium taken from
the kerosene tank in the chemical room and put it into the sink after we
had put the drain cock back in place.  When she turned on the water,
another old lead pipe had to be replaced.  She never figured out what was

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From: mini-air <marca#NoSpam.wilson.harvard.edu> 1997-01-08 Food for Thought:
Elegant Gooeyness

Investigator Laura Fuller writes: I am a high school senior. Here are the
results of a three year mathematics experiment. Once each year I take my
math homework, wrap it plastic, and scrunch the whole thing up and put it
in into a cup of chocolate pudding. I take the cup of pudding to math
class, and when the teacher asks for our homework I hand her the cup and
say, "The proof is in the pudding." Three different teachers in three
years. It gets 'em every time.

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From: "Teal, Mark" <mteal#NoSpam.ems.jsc.nasa.gov>
 At my high school, all of the science classes were held in a separate
building.  The architects had probably dealt with students like us before.
My Physics teacher junior year was very knowledgeable, but very
unobservant.  At the beginning of the semester, we took advantage of this
by playing paper football (folding a piece of notebook paper into a
triangle and flicking it between your opponents fingers used as "goal
posts") during his lectures.  So many people were doing this that by
midterms we had to have a superbowl.  We started feeling ignored and
decided to pull a prank.  We were normal kids and craved attention, even
the negative attention that would be attracted by playing a prank on
Mr. 'S'.  It started off very simple and safe, as these things usually do.
The plan was just to slip a book underneath the teacher's desk on the side
facing us and see if he would notice.  Sitting in the front row, I was a
collaborator.  When the teacher stepped into the storeroom I took my
partner's fairly thick physics book (we as students weren't using them
anyway) and slipped it under the edge of the table while my partner exerted
a considerable amount of effort tilting the table.  These were all-purpose
desks used for Chemistry, Biology and Physics and their wooden sides went
all the way to the floor.  Upon Mr. S's return, he set his ever-present
coffee cup down and continued the lecture, of course not noticing he now
had the complete attention of the whole class.  He also didn't notice the
tilted table.  No papers moved and his cup didn't slide or spill.  Being
good Physics students, we determined the desk did not have enough tilt.
Upon Mr. S's next departure from to the storeroom (for more coffee?), we
tried to slip another book on top of the first one under the side of the
table.  I, again, was the collaborator in charge of placement, but this
time it took the entire front row to tilt the table enough, and I had to
jam the book into place.  After placement, the table looked very distorted,
and there was an unspoken thought to use a smaller book.  Too late, the
lookout was waving.  Quickly resuming our seats, Mr. S again set his cup
down and continued the lecture.  His only clue that there was something
wrong was the scraping of his coffee cup sliding down the all-purpose
surface.  He managed to catch the cup as it cleared the edge not spilling a
drop.  He first inspected the underside of the cup (looking for what?
legs?  rocket engines?) and then brushed the desk with his hand.  Finding
nothing, he stepped back and squinted at the desk, but from that angle the
table still looked normal.  All this time there is dead silence from us
students.  We still had a shot at undoing it all during his next coffee
break if he didn't figure it out.  One giggle would give it away.
Unprompted, Mr. S walked around to the side of the table and again
squinted.  The jig was up.  The books were in plain view so he pointed and
said, "Get those books out of there!"  All of us collaborators got up as
the others laughed, and pushed against the desk, but the books were wedged
in there good.  Mr. S call "Maz" down from the back of the room.  Maz was
the only football player in the class.  He put his back against the table
and with us pushing, we tilted the table far enough to remove the books.
There was a great amount of creaking and groaning from the old table and as
I removed the books, there was a loud "nnnnnnnnnnnnSNAP".  All of us
students immediately knew that a pipe supplying all of the faucets with gas
had sheared, but Mr. S waited for the "shshshshshshshsh" and said, "Do you
hear that?"  We didn't wait for permission and cleared out of the room
while Mr. S investigated the source of the hissing.  Outside, we got what
we thought would be a non-lethal distance, but not safe distance from the
science building because we wanted a good view when it exploded.  It never
did and we were very disappointed.

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From: "PINCKNEY, GREG" <GPINCKNEY#NoSpam.fusn.com>

I remember this one too, except a piece of white chalk was inserted into the middle of a raw hotdog, which was then placed into the index finger of a rubber glove. After dipping the gloved "finger" into the liquid nitrogen (and commenting on how this demo could only be performed once), the instructor then proceeded to break the finger off at the base with a sickening "SNAP!", revealing the white "bone" in the middle of the severed finger, and noting how remarkable it was that no pain was actually felt. Quite an eye opener, I must say!

From: James A. Carr (jac#NoSpam.ibms48.scri.fsu)

only know the version where you smash the finger with a hammer and shatter it. The chalk is a nice touch. Maybe there is a way to combine the two ...

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From: srt#NoSpam.aero.ARPA (Scott R. Turner)

                               CAMPUS PRANKS

* A friend of mine at U of Chicago once calculated the resonant frequency
of his dorm's stairwells, bought a test record with that tone on it and
played it into the stairwells from a number of stereos.  Apparently had the
entire building shaking visibly before they got scared enough to turn it

* I had a friend who lived in a room next to the study lounge.  The night
before finals, I invited him up to my room and then phoned his room,
letting the phone ring until the angry mob in the study lounge broke down
the door and ripped the phone off the wall.

* Ran an imaginary student for a student government position.  He was named
after a dog.  He didn't actually make the ballot because his false ID was
discovered by the administration, but he still won on write-in votes.

* I once learned the day before that a professor would be late to one of
his classes the next day.  I made up a "pop quiz" that was incredibly hard,
and then showed up and handed it out to the class, telling them that I was
a grad student the prof had sent to proctor.

* A friend and I put on surgical greens, masks, booties and so on, and then
splashed red food coloring on ourselves.  Then we burst into the medical
library, arguing loudly, and go over to the reference copy of Gray's
Anatomy.  I leaf through it, peer at a picture, and point and say
triumphantly "See, I *told* you it was on the left side.  What are you,
dyslexic?"  My friend looks abashed, shrugs, and we walk out.

* One that I never got a chance to do: Wait until someone brings a cute
little puppy on to campus.  Then, later that day, rush onto the dorm floor
with the puppy wrapped in a bloodstained blanket.  Explain to everyone that
the dog was hit by a car and it has a large sliver of glass in its side.
You don't think it will live long enough to get it to a vet, so you're
going to pull the sliver yourself and try and stop the bleeding.  Go into
your room (with the pet owner) and close the door.  Play a previously
prepared tape of a dog whining and barking in pain, and say things like
"Jesus Christ!  Hold it still!  Oh, shit, I'm going to be sick.  What the
hell is *that*?"  and so on.  (I couldn't find the sound effect on the day
the puppy was there.)

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From: Mark McDonald <mcdonald#NoSpam.rsc.anu.edu.au>
 Here's a stunt that didn't quite work: I rigged up some dry ice to get
dumped in the toilet bowls in the student residences, so that the water
will smoke and bubble when someone lifts the toilet seat cover. I planned
it for Bush Week, when a 99% of the students will be coming home from their
drinking sprees. Unfortunately, they were too drunk for the prank to have
the right impact (no one noticed).

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From: PsionicZergling#NoSpam.aol.com
                           More uses for dry ice For dry ice, you can fill
a bucket with water and dump a whole comtainer of dish soap in it.....  add
the dry ice in and watch the foam!a small amount of dry ice is enough to
fill 1/2 a phone booth(i tried it!)

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From: Justin Masters <jmasters#NoSpam.pcocd2.intel.com>

I had moved from Utah to California between my sophomore and junior years.
Before leaving Utah, a teacher hosted a physics "demo" to entice students
to take the class the next year.  One of the experiments involved a Van de
Graaf generator.

I remembered that experiment and warnings made during it, when our physics
teacher left the room 2 years later, and the students took to playing with
another such device in our own room.  I said that I would show them how it
was done.  I pulled off my metal frame glasses, stood on a wooden chair and
placed my hands on the bulbous top.  A fellow student started it up, and
before long my hair stood out, making me look like a porcupine.

Well, it started with a threat to not turn the machine off.  I had been
told that you could get a big shock by pulling your hands off the device,
and so I pleaded with the other students to turn it off before the teacher
got back.

That wasn't good enough.  Someone grabbed a big metal wand, used normally
to discharge the static, and tried insulating themselves.  Why?  I don't
know.  Anyway, it didn't work.  They started poking me with the wand,
causing bolts of electricity to fly between the wand and me.

They walked behind me.  Zap, Zap, Zap.  They hit different parts of my head
and back.

Then they stooped to a lower level.  They aimed for a spot just below the
waist, between my legs.  You men know about this... :-)

I was getting pretty desperate, and still kept my hands firmly planted on
the bulb at the top.  I must have looked like a wrigglying python to this
fellow student's snake charming "wand".

He crept closer, trying to shock me "down there".  I was getting pretty
frantic, and finally reached out with one hand to swipe at his head....

....and a huge spark launched from my finger and struck him in the
forehead.  He didn't like that!

Years later, at a state fair, a young kid was touching a gizmo that had
little "plasma lightning" strikes reach out from a high voltage core out to
the glass, where people would attract the bolts with their fingers.

Apparently, this kid found that he could shock others, and started doing
so.  It was annoying, and probably something relating to the above incident
had to be resolved.  I reached out and pointed to his ear.  A bolt lept
out.  He, for some reason, didn't want to let go of the device he was
holding on to, and I continued to point to his ears.  I would leave, and
he'd resume shocking others, so I'd get close and give him a quick zap.  He
didn't understand how I could shock him, while I wasn't touching that
globe.  I dunno.... :-) Maybe *I* was the ground path???

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From: Eric Lucas <ealucas#NoSpam.ix.netcom.com>

Perhaps foolishly, I've smelled quite a few compounds in my years in the
lab.  I just happen to enjoy smells of all kinds.  The oddest was a methoxy
cyclobutannulated aromatic compound that smelled exactly like cardboard.
Or, more precisely, the inside of a dusty, musty cardboard box.  Complete
with that dry feeling in the back of the nose.  Then there was the
substituted vinylcyclopropyl iodide that smelled exactly like artificial
watermelon flavoring.  Then there's the time in high school that I found a
bottle of Br2 in a prep room. (I think you probably see where this is
going.)  I thought, "Ooh, cool red vapors.  That must smell really good."
My only experience smelling halongens to that point was I2, which, to my
thinking, actually did smell purple.  So I thought that red bromine vapors
would smell, well, red...whatever that meant.  Anyway, I got a pretty good
lungful.  Breathing returned to normal several hours later.  Mr. Chiudioni
didn't even bat an eyelash.  This followed fairly closely on the heels of
my ill-fated attempt to make nitroglycerine (I found glycerine, I found
nitric acid, and I found sulfuric acid.  Put 2 and 2 and 2 together.  Got a
huge yellow nitric acid stain on the 12' high ceiling.)  To this day, I
still haven't learned my lesson--still smell nearly everything, unless I
have a notion that it might be not-so-good for me.

Barry Sharpless used to publicly claim to have smelled every single
compound he's ever made, and also claims to have tasted a large fraction of
them.  He said that the oddest smell he ever experienced was the compound
(I forget what it was) that smelled exactly like a blow to the back of the
head.  Or maybe that was the floor rushing up at him that made it resemble
a blow to the back of the head.

The lesson is clear.  Unless you are damn sure you know what you're doing
(a Ph.D. and about 20 total years in chemistry labs of one kind or another
is barely enough in my case, I'm afraid) DO NOT smell things willy nilly.
I know very well I've been lucky.  It just ain't worth it.  Unless, like
me, you feel that, because you are a chemist, you will inevitably die of
liver cancer some day.

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From: Karl
 Disclaimer: I didn't write this, I'm just reposting it.

My high-school physics teacher was a real ass - so my class felt a moral
obligation to do whatever it could to make his life "more interesting"....

We did the usual things to his car (blocks, siphoned the gas, reported it
stolen while he was out drving it, etc.).  But one of our best was a
pratical application of the optics lessons...

Our class was usually the first one of the day - and our classroom had a
huge bank of windows along the eastern wall.  Our teacher was also very
precise - he used to always stack papers, especially tests, at one
particular spot on his lab bench at the front of the class.

We had a test coming up on day, so the afternoon before, a group of us
asked if we could use the classroom for a group study session.  What
teacher in their right mind would turn down students who WANTED to study?
Of course, we didn't study - we rigged a series of mirrors to bounce the
sunlight (remember those windows?) onto a parabolic mirror that was exactly
focused onto the spot the teacher used to stack his papers on.

Next day, teacher arrives, places test papers on desk an starts to lecture
us about the test process, etc.  He'd been nattering for about 30 seconds
when the whole stack of tests burst into flames and tripped the lab's

Funniest part, the twerp never realized what we'd done -- he was sure it
was a case of spontaneous combustion....

Written by: Bob Tremonti

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From: clarence edward farrar <efarrar#NoSpam.startext.net>

 Before a chemistry demonstration, in my high school chemistry class, a
student (not me) connected the gas outlet and water outlet with a section
rubber hose and turned both on.  After a few seconds he turned both outlets
off and waited.  Our teacher was very upset when he turned on the gas
outlet to the Bunsen burner and got only water.

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From: leipzig#NoSpam.qgpc.com.qa

I am a petroleum geologist and went to college at the University of
Wisconsin. The cadre of geology grad students and post-docs used to all go
to the Student Union "GastHaus" to decompress after a particularly nasty
week of TA'ing and RA'ing, exams, et al. We'd all take turns buying
pitchers of beer, so one could down quite a few beers quite cheaply.

Although, not as cheaply as some others.

One character, who shall remain properly nameless, was a "beer
scrounge". He'd show up, drink our beer, but never buy a round when his
time rolled around.

Well, in Optical Petrology class, there's this little test to distinguish
between low-magnesium and high-magnesium clacite, dolomite and ankerite
(typical carbonate minerals); and this was to stain the polished and etched
thin section with an organic dye called Alizarian Red. Well, AR is
odorless, colorless and tasteless. It will also color a person's urine
blood red.


Properly nameless showed up one evening and proceeded to drink up a fair
share of beer. Whilst he was in the head, we spiked his beer with AR. He
came back and drank down a rather generous portion of beer, not knowing why
we weren't complaing about his chintziness.  Well, after 6 or so more
beers, nameless wanders off to answer nature's call yet again. He was
semi-lit up and having just a LARGE time, laughing and joking all the way.

When nameless returned to our table, he was as white as a fish-belly, eyes
as big as dinner plates and he was mumbling something about "I'm gonna
die...I'm gonna die..."

We did tell him 2 days later that his beer was spiked.

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From: "TDOWLING"<tdowling#NoSpam.lsc.org>
 The best prank I ever played on my chem teacher was phony mercury.  I had
noticed in a grocery store that there were small silvery bead-like cake
decorations.  They came in several mesh sizes and looked very much like
mercury droplets.  I went back to the store without my mom and bought a
container of each size.  By the time I was in chemistry class, the '70's,
mercury was already recognized as dangerous.  Only the teacher could use it
and spills were a serious incident.  By the way, I understand the
confections are were made with an incredibly thin layer of actual silver
leaf over the sugar pill core.

Anyhow, I waited until a test day to scatter the cake decorations all over
the instructor's table and sink.  He took one look and evacuated the
lab/classroom.  The tests were inside, locked in the prep room as usual.
With all the confusion it was not until three fourths of the period was
over that the instructor touched one of the phony droplets with a lab
spatula and discovered it was solid.  I had bought an extra day to study
with this little trick.

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From: AWJimC#NoSpam.aol.com (Jim Cummins )

 During a final exam in inorganic chem lab at Columbia, maybe forty years
ago, we were all handed a dry powder and told we had three hours to
determine what was in it. We knew how to do it, too. All except for one
poor guy, the best student in the class, whose sample had become a
carbonized bubbling mess that stank up the whole rest of the room.  The
instructors hung around the fringe of the room barely hiding their glee.
They let the poor dupe agonize for nearly an hour, as he watched his
attempts to ace the course turn to goo before his eyes, before they
revealed that his sample had been an ounce of Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie
Baking Mix.  They told him later that they would have excused him entirely
from the final exam, but that they just could not resist the opportunity.

   Note for non-americans: Betty Crocker is an imaginary woman in an apron,
                   the symbol of a huge food-products chain.

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From: Smokey Joe (stdddm12#NoSpam.shsu.edu)

Get cans of shaving cream and place them in liquid nitrogen until
frozen. Take them out and peel off the can, leaving the solid white mass
inside. Throw x number of these white masses into the cab of someone's
truck. When the temperature rises, they should expand(I've never gotten to
try it, myself).

From: Tragic Comic <vyperhunt#NoSpam.hotmail.com>

 In fact, the frozen shaving cream block effectively seals the aersol in as
well, so as it thaws, the aersol expands along with the cream.  two to
three blocks can completely fill a car interior.

From: Mike Painter (mpainter#NoSpam.inreach.com)

My guess would be that they would thaw out and leave a puddle on the seat.
(See Tragic Comic's remark above for a denial)

Now if you put one in a footlocker so that closing the lid pushes the
button you get the proper result.  What is nice about this is that after
everything clears up there is almost nothing left in the box but a few thin
white lines.

From: Richard Filmer <rfilmer#NoSpam.rocketmail.com>

Regarding the shaving cream prank, I also believe it will fail. The tin
casing of the can will become brittle long before the high-pressure inert
gas will freeze, thus shooting shards of cold metal into your face.

From: Victor Bajanov <victor#NoSpam.bajanov.dropbear.id.au>

Although I've never tried this, tin has another allotrope: a white
powder. It changes into this form at about -40 degrees Celsius (-40
Farenheit as well). Nitrogen boils at about -70 C (-94 F), so liquid
nitrogen would be below this temperature. So yes, the tin casing of the
can, if indeed the can is made of tin, would turn to powder long before the
pressurised gas froze.

From: "Ironclad Taco" <scones#NoSpam.fish.co.uk>
I didn't think that cans were made out of tin anymore. I thought the
preffered metal was aluminium, which, to my knowledge (absoloutly
miniscule) does not turn brittle like tin.

From: IaanBurke#NoSpam.aol.com

You really need to look at how an aerosol can works to see why this
wouldn't! It's gonna defrost from the outside and just leave a little
puddle, you need to force the liquid through a narrow nozzel to get the
expnding aerosol effect.

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From: Jim Carr (jac#NoSpam.ibms48.scri.fsu.edu)
September 22
August 25
My favorite was when one professor put another inside a Faraday cage at
very high voltage when he was allegedly there just to help be sure the demo
was done correctly, using a volunteer from the other prof's class.  Instead
he said "Hey, he's been telling you all this stuff is true, shouldn't he be
the one inside?"  ;-) I think the class was hoping he would be killed....

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From: Richard Herring (rnh#NoSpam.gmrc.gecm.com)

I recall a practical demonstration of induction. Each student was issued an
iron-cored inductor fitted with a pair of 4mm sockets, a 1.5 volt dry cell,
and two pieces of insulated wire, each with a 4mm plug on one end and a
bare crocodile (alligator) clip on the other. The instructions were simple:
connect them in series. Naturally they inserted the plugs in the sockets
and took a clip in each hand to touch against the ends of the cell. Nothing
apparently happened...

From: Harry H Conover (conover#NoSpam.tiac.net)
I love it!  What a maliciously delightful bastard!
Reminds me of the time when, as a co-op student, I decided to check the
resistance of the high side winding on a power company pole transformer
using a hand-held Simpson 260 VOM (set on a low-Ohms scale).  "Odd", I
thought to myself, "the resistance is decreasing, and rather slowly."  It
didn't take long to be taught why the "resistance is changing", but

Lessons like these are not quickly forgotten.

                                                  Harry C.

p.s., Then there was that friend of mine who, for some long forgetten
      reason decided that he needed to measure the output voltage of
      a 15-KV, 40-Kw plate tranformer using a hand-held high-voltage
      probe on a meter.  (This is something that actually happened
      during the start-up days of the Princeton-Pennsylvania
      Accelerator back around 1964.)

      As he approached the tranformer's terminal with the probe, a
      corona discharge jumped to the well insulated probe in his hand,
      but still he dropped it.  It fell to the grounded case of the
      transformer, the discharge followed it, and the rest is history.
      (When they did a post-mortem on the transformer, although its
      windings were once rectangular to conform with the cross-section
      of its core, they were now perfectly round -- all three phases!)

physics chemistry
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From: "S. P. Riley" <rileystp#NoSpam.flyernet.udayton.edu>
                            GENERAL SCIENCE 12.

I am accident prone.  I will not deny this.  I will also not deny that I
love science.  Science has always been a logic course for me.  Yet when
logic, humans, and bad luck come together you get me.

I high school biology we had to dissect a once living mouse.  Well they had
injected the arteries with a type of red latex, and the veins with a blue
latex.  Well when you pull them out and tie them together you can get a
very reasonable rubber band.  The teacher couldn't figure out where all
these red and blue rubber bands were coming from.

In chemistry lab we always had quirt bottles full of di-water next to the
tables.  The person using the table next to mine and I always had a battle
with those bottles.  Well one day when I was doing an experiment he yelled
out my name and shot the liquid at me.  Well thank God it missed me since
the teacher replaced the di-water with sulfuric acid.  I noticed that the
liquid was smoking and bubbling before the other guy could get off a second

One of the experiments was to take lighters and long test tube, filled with
water submerged in water, and press the button on the lighter and let the
fluid change to gas and fill the long test tube.  Well I was the first done
with my experiment, and since the gas from the lighter is heavier than air
I could turn it up and the gas would still be in the tube.  Well the
teacher decided he wanted to show me a cool effect.  He lit a match and
dropped it into the tube.  Well as everyone knows heat expands the air, and
a lot of heat expands a lot of air.  I was picking glass out of my skin and
cloths for a week.  After the teacher told the rest of the students not to
do something like that two other people lit a match and dropped it into
their tubes.

In physics class we had a hand crank generator that we hooked up two wires
to.  We would see who would be stupid enough to hold onto the wires the
longest.  Well when it was my turn we put the BIG magnet on the generator,
and hand the red neck hick with a sadistic streak on him to turn the crank.
Well the shocks were greater than before, and then the hick decided to turn
the crank as fast has he could.  There was so much electricity that my
mussels locked up, and I couldn't let go.  I had to walk backwards to get
the wires out of my hands.

Still in high school we had a Van de Graph generator that, as an assistant,
I hooked up.  Well we got out the old plastic crate that was six inches off
the ground and I stood on it as another assistant turned on the generator.
Well even before I could get my hands to the globe there was such an
electrical charge that it traveled through me, through my shoes, and the
six inches of air to the ground.  This did not discourage us.  We shut off
the generator and I put my hands on the globe, and then turned it on.  I
don't remember much of what happened, but the other assistant said that
there were five or six discharges from the feet to the ground before having
to unplug the generator, the switch failed.

For some reason in chemistry class we had a massive amount of magnesium
ribbon.  Well one day we were going to do some experiment where we had to
scrape the corrosion off.  We were told to leave the dust from the sanding
on the table.  Well we didn't really notice the teacher go around and
collect the dust.  I did notice him go over to the "hot" Bunsen burner and
fire it up.  I wish I noticed him look away for he tossed the powder into
the flame.  The giant dark spot in my vision went away after about half an

I made it to college by some grace of God, and had my first physics lab.
Remember the test of gravity how you have the paper ribbon and a mass is
pulled down by gravity, and a sparker would leave repeated dark scorch
marks on the ribbon.  I don't know why by my group just had to have the
only time in the history of the lab where the sparker caught the ribbon on
fire.  Naturally there is never a convenient fire extinguisher around.  We
ended up blowing really hard and ended up blowing out the flaming paper.

I worked for the chemistry lab stock room for a little bit once.  Well I
was told to clean a pan that had some type of acid crystallized on the
side.  Well this acid could only be dissolved with ethanol.  Since ethanol
was a very prized in the stock room I was only permitted to use a small
amount.  Think hard on this one.  A lot of acid dissolved in little liquid
equals a high concentration.  That some how got on my skin.  When I felt
the pain I proceeded to douse my skin with ethanol.  When I told my boss he
didn't know which was worse, my wasting the ethanol or getting the acid on
my skin.

The latest and most painful was when I was working for the geology
department and we needed some liquid nitrogen.  Well I knew just where to
get some.  So taking a container with me, and going all by myself, since I
didn't want others to know about it, I went to the liquid nitrogen tank.  I
proceeded to fill the container.  I noticed the hose that I was using was
becoming covered in frost, but didn't think that hard on that fact.  I
proceed to turn off the valve.  I didn't notice that it too was covered in
frost.  Well when I made the last turn very tight I tried to take my hand
off the valve.  It was frozen to the valve.  Now understand this was in the
middle of July so it was about 100 degrees out, and here I was frozen.  I
lost multiple layers of skin that day.

Now understand these are just a few of the many situations that I have
gotten myself into.  Yes everyone of these are true.  Just be lucky I
didn't include when working in the chem stock room and I discovered the
well known (to everyone but me at that time) property of silver nitrate.
Thank God I am going into something safe like Geology where the worst that
I can do is kill only myself and who ever is at the bottom of a rock slide.

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From: "Scovis, Phil" <Phil_Scovis#NoSpam.academic.com>

 Rather harmless, but still fun.  Obtain a piece of magnesium wire, and
thread it into a bunsen burner screen, and leave it for the next class.
Ask someone in the next class if anything interesting happened during lab.

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From: iim98jap <iim98jap#NoSpam.student3.lu.se>

Somehow we found what the mixture that was used for espionage (taking
aerophotos during the night time) during the World War II was made of
(contact me for details :).  The basic idea is that it reacts quicly
releasing large ammount of bright light and in principle acts as huge
flash.  The mixture was simple, two-component mixture and through our
contacts and friends we did not have real problem to obtain the components.
We maid it in remote area of summer houses some 18 km from Riga city (the
capital of Latvia). Actually it was time before the New Year and we had
aslo other fireworks prepared, but this one was a kind of experiment and we
were looking forward to enjoy it wery much.  We made quite a big tight
paper package of this stuff thinking- the bigger the better, added home
made ignitor and burning cord, went out (it was night, aroung 11 p.m.,
though there was half moon and stars on the sky, so it was not completely
dark). We put the fire to the cord, left the paskage in the middle of the
road and stepped well back.  We were expecting some real explosion, light
sparks and stuff like this, of course.  The cord was burning, but it
somehow took a bit longer time than we were expecting. We all (like 4
people) were following closely the smoll flame on the cord with our sights
when......  ..... it just became all dark.  We did not hear any explosion,
except small "fuh!", we did not see ANY light.  The reaction was so quick
and so damn bright that we all got blinded for several tens of seconds. We
were blinking our eyes without seeing anything at all.  That is thing that
we still joke about with the friends when we met.

We realised that mixtures designed for special uses do not really fot for
pyrotechnics... :)

Regards, Janis

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From: Lars Goldschlager <lg#NoSpam.unete.com.ve>

I have a quite mad very close best friend, well this friend switched to my
same school on my suggestion when he was "taken out" of his earlier school,
this school of mine was very very liberal (based on the sumerhill concept)
and we had grand teachers, so these teachers did not say "no" when my
friend choosen to do the work we all had to do for the two last years of
highschool about powder, my friend got in all kind of tests about powder
and finally produced what we decided to call "greenpeace powder" because I
said it was the powder that greenpeace would use to blow up contaminating
factories, this was because he decided to substitute the sulfur in the
normal mixing for some neat (expensively neat) amount of powdered
magnesium, wich produced an alkaline residue rather than an acid one, such
residue that acording to my friend's (doubtfull) calculations shoudl mix
with water producing Nitrogen wich should be good for the plants.... well
we we're on the lab by ourselves (with everything on hand of course)
testing that thing...  when he decides to do a "gas" test, wich means,
stuffing a well lot of that into a test tube, putting a lid on it and
putting the tube over the Bunsen.... yes I can imagine your faces
now.... well he does it, and we duck like we were chased by the devil, and
we wait and wait and wait and wait..... so nothing is happening, and my
friend got slightly impacient...... and yes he decides to rise from behind
our table to wich i started yelling "come back, come back" and certain so,
h was two steps away from the tube when the thing blew up.... my friend was
harmed but we tought he was, that because he was frozen like ice for
several minutes, barely breathing, the tube's cap flew up about 10 meters
and sqashed against the ceiling leaving an unremovable black spot in it,
the tube itself broke in two and the lower part flew back and landed on a
cloth on the table, this was a very think cloth that was folded in about
eight layers, and ven when the mixture hadn't burnt completely the tube
burnt thru the whole cloth like it as butter not even lighting it up....
(latter on open tubes with a electronic thermometer we tested this thign to
burn at near 630 celcius) and the whole lab was full of glass.......
needless to say we didn't ever ever try the experiene again (still our
teachers didn't stopped us from continuing on the experiment....).... I
wish I had a neat story to tell about the 200g of sodium he got hold of
next year but he just misplaced it and never foudn it again, someday his
house will go in flames and he will find it............

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From: MarvinZZMartian#NoSpam.aol.com

 One year I managed to convince the chemistry/physics high school teacher &
the principal (little did he know...) to allow any volunteers to turn the
high school wing into a Halloween haunted house for the little kids.
Anybody who did anything was going to get a lab credit.

Some myself & one of my bus buddies did the "mad scientist" room in the
physics room with some of the real simple old ones: sugar & sulfuric acid &
potassium permangenate & glycerine.

My assistant mixed the acid w the permangenate he he he, it shut the whole
thing for the night.  It was the most incredible substance that stunk &
burned & stained & stuck to every square inch of the ceiling, walls, floor,
desktops, clothing & took the whole class 3 days to clean.

The good old days.  I have a bunch of these stories.

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From: "Vinnie Greco" <vinnie_greco#NoSpam.hotmail.com>

 A quick and easy one...

Spit into a flask of liquid nitrogen. After a few seconds of bubbles and
sizzling your end product will be a nice little clear ball, similar to a
small hailstone, but very dry at that temperature. When you pull it out
with a pair of tongs you can handle the thing with your hands (badconductor
of heat). Then, pick your victims. Place these little marbles in their
pencil cases, on their lab books, drop them in their pockets, etc. They go
unnoticed while they are solid. Then wait.

I had so much fun 'spitting' on so many of the geeks who took lab too

This prank is best when you feel all clogged up - green balls give
fantastic results!

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From: "Redden, Brad" <bredden#NoSpam.westaim.com>
                                PHYSICS 30

   For my senior year in high school we had a physics teacher who was
really a French teacher at heart. He taught two other courses at the same
time (it was a small school). When it came down to the last five weeks of
school he was getting quite busy with marking in the other courses large
projects coming in and what not. With great faith in the senior class to be
mature.  Thought we were the one of the largest bunches of miscreants to
come through the school in many years. Chem. class had been disarmed by
many of our parents 20 years earlier and it's difficult to explain just how
literal that is (about 75% of us had at least one parent attend our school
most in a five year stint) Anyway the assignment was any project could be
done as long as it related to class in someway, this was busy work. idol
hands are the tool of the devil well so our busy ones. Enter weaponeering
101 as it was dubbed in a matter of days. One of the things covered was
trajectories. This gave birth to 3 catapults one required three people to
carry and had to be dismantled to be moved. One crossbow powered by leaf
springs that was almost a small ballista and a failed van de graph
generator that was more like a tesla coil. (a big ball that shoots off
electric arcs if you get to close) We had an arc starter from an old
furnace I was told it was about 12 000 volts it would jump about 3 inches
and lift you off the seat. This made for an entertaining close to a class
that had all ready cover such entertaining topics as: You actually
swallowed a AAA battery, What happens when you fill the lab with propane
(some dumbass junior tried that one) How hard is it to pry 4 crazy glued
text books apart and Does crazy glue bond sneaker rubber and floor tiles
(very well indeed).

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From: Arman Frasier <armanf#NoSpam.alaweb.com>

Okay here is one, in 8th grade my idiot friend siad 5 years earlier he put
some play-doh into a bottle of tabasco sause, coem to find out that when
obsorbed by skin (or forced into the blood with a dart) would cause numbing
of the area, so another idiot friend of mine too a 2 liter boote of coke,
emptied it fillled half with the liquid, put a metal plate in it some
how. he filled the other half with water. Then came Homecoming football
(American Football) game, he "borrowed" some dry ice and put it in the
water helf, he used just enough (guess we wasnt that dumb if he measured
it) and threw the numbomb as we called it over the football field, it
exploded numbing the arms of both football teams, and completely numbing
the cheer leaders, it was funny, though people thought it was gun fire from
the sound of the bottle exploding and when the foot ball player and Cheer
leaders collapsed from the sheer numbness and shock the whole area screamed
and we ran off.

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From: "Geoff Needham" <geoffn#NoSpam.ledanet.com.au>

 Another small explosion We had just moved into a brand new lab & the board
of directors were coming on an inspection visit.  To impress them we
started a series of ether extractions in the new fume cupboard.  Naturally
the lab soon filled with ether fumes but chemists get off on such things so
no one commented.

The chairman of the board led his party into the room & to our horror he
was smoking a huge cigar.  A most beautiful phenomena then occurred.  A
small ball of flame moved in slow motion from the cigar towards the fume
cupboard, however none of the lab staff saw it arrive as we were all
cowering behind benches before it got half way there.  The resulting
explosion destroyed the first soxhlet apparatus, moved on to the next &
then the next in a chain reaction this shattered the fume cupboard &
damaged the entire end of the lab.

Such fun, very dignified elderly men & women under chairs, lying in the
hallway & in heaps on top of each other.  Try it sometime. I guarantee that
you will get unlimited funding for at least three years.

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From : tomas_thefox2003#NoSpam.yahoo.ie (Tomas Fuchsbauer)
Physics aparatii in Industry :

Ingenious use of Physics apartii in the microelectronics industry

I won’t give the site, as this is not good policy, but this is not made up
and DID occur...

We were working in the 'Diffusion’ area (also known as' Confusion’ to some)
and were carrying out repair work to some 200mm Vertical Furnaces just
prior to Christmas that year, when one of the cleanroom staff asked us what
we were doing. My fellow Irish colleague who was also always one for a joke
simply replied :
"We’re just dismantling a few of the furnaces for installation into the
canteen kitchen to help with the cooking of the Christmas Turkey & Ham
dinners."  He said it with a very straight face and extremely believably -
the expression in his eyes remaining unaltered - not a hint of BS - (his
cleanroom 'face-mask' must have greatly assisted in keeping his true
expression under wraps). The young guy looked at us for a while during the
work, shrugged and muttered : ", Really ?" Afterwards I found out that he
had spread this insider information about the new high-tech cooking
facilities quite extensively, and from then on we just couldn’t contain
ourselves any longer. It became a team joke for weeks. Just proves yet
again how easy it is to brainwash most of the human race with the smallest
nonsense... Not much appears to have changed in the interim !

physics chemistry
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From: "Justin Heisdorffer" <just_in_24#NoSpam.hotmail.com>

I'm going into engineering, so during my four years of high school, I felt
it very important to take as many science classes as possible, so from all
those classes, I have a lot of memorable moments.
One of the ones that stands out the most was in my Biotechnology class, my
sophmore year.  It was mostly a lab class dealing with growing bacteria and
had to use proper sterilization techniques.  I can't remember the name of
any of those techniques, but they involved passing the inoculating loop
over the flame of a bunsen burner, then scraping some bacteria up with it
and putting the bacteria on a petri dish.  Two interesting occurrences
happened in this process.
One one particular lab, we were growing 3 different kinds of bacteria on
one plate, so we divided the plates into fourths and used the extra
quadrant for a control.  One of my friends got the inocculation process
wrong and sterilized the loop after he had scooped some of the bacteria
onto it.  So, of the four quadrants, the only one that grew any bacteria
was the one one that wasn't supposed to (the control).  The other result of
this little project is that he contaminated all the test tubes of bacteria
that everyone else was using, so everyone else's experiements got messed up
The other interesting experiment in that class was when we were supposed to
be growing bacteria again.  Of course, this was toward the end of the
school year and growing bacteria had gotten a little boring, so we were
playing with other lab tools.  We stained eachother with all of the stains
that make cells visible under a microscope and basically never go away.
Handily enough, these came in nice little squirt bottles that made it
obvious that they were made for this purpose.  During this lab, we also
found that the tongs in the lab were made of copper.  From this we learned
that, when burnt, copper gives off a brilliant green flame.  Also learned
that teachers WILL expel students, even near the end of the school year.
My favorite class was Mr. Squire's chemistry class.  He was noted for hard
tests and homework, but that was just the kind of class I liked.  We did a
few labs, but he always made sure we used proper safety precautions.
The most memorable moment in high school was when we did our thermite
experiment.  We took a clay flower pop, filled it up with the thermite
mixture and lit it with a sparkler so that it would drip out the hole in
the bottom into a box of sand.  We did this outside in the parking lot, as
he had previously had troubles with it inside and the experiment was banned
from being done indoors.  So, we did the experiment in the parking lot and
the thermite melted right through the sand, the box, and the parking lot.
Later that year, we were doing a lab with an extremely weak solution of
Hydrochloric Acid (<<1M).  My lab partner was afraid to work with any
concentration, so I had to do the lab work and she wrote the results.  We
had a test-tube full of HCl, and a rubber stopper with a peice of magnesium
ribbon attatched to it that we were supposed to shove into the test tube to
watch the production of hydrogen gas.  When I jammed the stopper into the
test tube, it sprayed the acid solution all over the room.  I couldn't help
but laugh, even though i was soaked with the acid.  The teacher and a
couple of other students couldn't stop laughing  Everyone else freaked out.
My lab partner got a few drops on her and kinda freaked, but wasn't nearly
as afraid the next experiment.  For some reason, she didn't want me to work
with acid anymore.  Go figure!  The best thing that happened from this
experiment is that my lab partn! er still remembers me, even though she
hasn't seen me since we got out of that class.  Whenever I see her mom, she
asks "Hey, weren't you Renee's chemistry partner?  She still asks about you
a lot."  So, I guess there was chemistry between us.  Okay, bad pun. 
The next year, Mr. Squire retired, so I had Mr. Long for my Advanced
Chemistry and Physics classes.  Lots of interesting experiences in those
In physics, we were doing an experiment with little matchbox cars and a
track and ramp.  I don't know how that related to physics at all, but my
group decided to make it more interesting, so between the take off and
landing ramps, we decided to make the car go through a ring of fire.  But,
we couldn't figure out how to do that, so we just set up a bunsen burner
and decided that was good enough.  Then we got caught and sent to the
We also took a van de graph generator (one of those things that generates
static electricity) and wired it to the doorknob so that when the Mr. Long
came in, he would get a nice little shock.  However, he was in the
chemistry closet watching us and made the kid who set it up touch it after
it had charged up for several minutes.  Another time, we stole the van de
graph and did that to another teacher.  Mr. Long is the one who got in
trouble for it though and it started a feud between the math teachers and
the science teachers that lasted the rest of the year. 
One of my classmates was always filling pop bottles with the gas for the
bunsen burners and squeezing it in people's faces to watch their reaction
to the nauxious smelling gas.  One day, I remembered I had a lighter in my
pocket, so when he squeezed it in my face, I dared him to do it again, and
when he did, BOOM!!!!  Actually, no explosion, just a quick flash of flame.
I was disappointed, but it was more effective to get him to quit doing that
to people than the 100 times Mr. Long threatened to kick him out of class. 
In our advanced chem. class, one of the students was incredibly afraid of
acids, so we labled a bottle "6M HCl" and filled it up with water before he
got to class one day.  When he got there, we proceeded to play catch with
it and managed to spill some on his books.  He freaked out...but not as
much as when we poured it into test tubes and took shots of it. 
Another day in advanced chem, we took his old computer and wrote a program
that went had a loop that asked you "who is the pimp master?" and when you
answered, it displayed "dylan scott (another student in my class) is the
biggest pimp in the world"  Of course, we couldn't remember how to exit a
loop, so it just displayed that over and over until you turned the computer
off.  Mr. Long was pretty mad about that. 
Another day, we had bunsen burners out and were bored with our lab, so
someone grabbed a handful of magnesium powder and threw it on the burner.
That was pretty cool, so we did it again, only this time his hand was
sweaty and some of the powder stuck to it and burnt him. 
We also did a few demonstrations, including a grape cannon (similar to a
potato gun, only smaller) which we shot at targets outside (targets
included the gym teacher and several p.e. students who were walking the
track).  We made an acetylene cannon that shot foam Nerf balls so we could
shoot inside and really loaded it up with the ingredients for acetylene
(calcium carbide and water), waited a minute for it to make enough gas, and
lit it.  The ball went through the cieling in one place and there's a black
spot where the flame shot out of the barrel. 
The next year, our school had a NEW chemistry teacher again.

My class was well-behaved, but a bunch of pyromaniacs. We had 3 science
teachers retire and two others re-write their curricula to take fire/open
flame out of as many labs as possible. 

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From: "Knight, William B EM1 (BUPERS)" <william.b.knight#NoSpam.navy.mil>
Being in the nuclear navy and operating the reactors on the submarines, we often would get very bored with the usuall humdrum of standing watch. This often would lead to some intense pranks that stories of made out of. A couple I have heard of but never actually experienced are as follows:

1. Call out on the shipwide announcing system that the doc is needed in the engine room. Later spread the story that a young Ensign got his finger cut off because it was stuck in the reactor when it started up.

2. During mess time, have 3 or 4 of your fellow "nukes" (what we call ourselves) dress up in the yellow Radiation Control suits and break open a few glow sticks and spill them all over the suits. Then run screaming through the mess deck that there has been a spill and then just watch...

Ahh...those were the days 

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From: neufeld#NoSpam.helios.physics.utoronto.ca (Christopher Neufeld)

   Another radio station prank took place on April Fool's Day. They
announced that the phone company would be cleaning the dirt out of the
phone lines that afternoon. They do this, it seems, by blowing air into the
wires in the switching station. The problem is that the dirt comes out of
the earpiece and mouthpiece of the telephone, and could dirty the rugs or
furniture in your house. Consequently, the phone company asks that the good
citizens please get plastic baggies and put them over the handsets of the
telephones to protect their belongings.

   Stores reported a run on plastic bags, and the phone company made the
radio station retract the original claim.

   I've always felt that the retraction should have been handled this way:
"The phone company would like us to tell you that our earlier message
concerning the blowing of dirt out of the phone lines was incorrect. The
phone company does not, repeat NOT, blow into the telephone wires to clean
out the dirt. Anybody with any understanding of the way the system operates
would know that they suck the dirt out."

   Alas, the retraction was serious and factual. What's this world coming
to anyway?

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From: "George Maxwell" <gm137#NoSpam.york.ac.uk>

A great way of getting through boring practicals: We squirted acetone on
the backs of our hands, and brushed them against a lit bunsen. The acetone
lit up impressively and burned for about twenty seconds, but because it
evaporates as it gets warm, our hands remained intact. This was a
particularly popular trick when visiting parents or prospective students
were visiting (complete with hysterical screaming and panic).

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