Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Curioser and curioser

Posted by on 07/22 at 02:23 PM Chemistry? Mu-SEUM? Libra-what? Well, even for those not initially interested in the Chemical Heritage Foundation and its treasures, a second look is well worth it. Here are three nuggets, presented by an insider who will, for the sake of mysteriousness, remain anonymous.

1. A type-written note on one of those big machines in the museum, put there by students at Stanford some time in the second half of the 20th century. This sits innocently on the A-60 nuclear magnetic resonance consol (that’s its proper name) in our museum and reads:


This machine subject to breakdowns during periods of critical need!!

A special circuit in the machine called a ‘CRISIS DETECTOR’ senses the operator’s emotional state in terms of how desperate he or she is to use the machine. The ‘CRISIS DETECTOR’ then creates a malfunction proportional to the desperation of the operator. Threatening the machine with violence only aggravates the situation. Likewise, attempts to use any other machine may cause it to malfunction too – they belong to the same union. KEEP COOL, AND SAY NICE THINGS TO THE MACHINE. NOTHING ELSE SEEMS TO WORK.

(Boy, are we glad they left the note on the machine when we got it!)

2. (above and below) Scenes from CHF bathrooms, used by our staff and library visitors. Featuring ads for plastic wrap, buttons, stretch- and other manmade materials.

(Who needs magazines, right?)

3. A rather questionable package of lemonade mix, found in the CHF kitchen cupboards, now long beyond its expiration date and an art object in yours truly’s office. Ingredients as listed on the package:

Sugar, Dextrose, Citric Acid, Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Maltodextrin, Natural Flavor, Cellulose Gum, Gum Arabic, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Titanium Dioxide, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5.

(Too many thoughts for words!)

It does make you wonder what other treasures this building holds… one thing is sure: it’s a treasure trove of all things chemical.

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