by Carl, J. et al
Undergraduate Lairimy Dunderson decided to show initiative last week by cleaning the chemistry lab in hopes of securing a graduate position in the department. After taking an unmarked bottle of clear liquid off of the shelf, he noticed that the archaic precursor to parafilm used to cap the bottle had dissolved, and the bottle was leaking all over his hands.
“It’s definitely burning,” said Lairimy, “which is clearly the chemical breaking down the phosphate bonds in the lipid bilayer which makes up my skin cells,” he added, looking hopefully at the lab manager.
Dunderson later suggested that the liquid was not water as its initial appearance suggested, but rather a type of strong acid.
“Most people are familiar with the term chemical burn, but actually the burn often doesn’t involve any actual heat,” proclaimed Dunderson, loudly, regarding the incident. “When asked to clean the lab, I figured that they must really trust me since there are some really volatile and dangerous things in that area, stuff you really need to know what you’re doing to properly handle,” he looked at his stinging red palms and quickly added, “…but even the best of us make mistakes.”
When asked about the incident the lab manager had this to say, “That bottle is one of the most ancient and powerful relics of this university. Legend says that it was left over from Linus Pauling’s doctoral work and that whosoever could separate the crystalline solids from that solution is destined to be the head of the chemistry department. And I specifically told him not to touch it! This is why we don’t usually let undergrads in our lab.”