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Inspirational Reads

Right...the Big One Goes on Top

September 13, 2007

And no, I'm not talking about my sex life.

Today, I was trying to find the yield of a reaction I did yesterday. The product had dried overnight, so I was writing the numbers out on my in-lab notebook (read: my hood sash). I went through the calculations and discovered that I had made -0.9876 g. Imagine my delight at discovering that I had the power of a deity coursing through my synthetic hands. After all, only a god can destroy matter and make the sum total of the universe post-Big Bang come out with the negative sign.

That's when I actually looked at what I had written and discovered that I had made a slight error in my calculations. Reverting back to first grade (you know, when they teach you such shit like subtraction and addition), it occured to me that I was subtracting the weight of the flask and the material from the tare weight. Fortunately, it was early enough that I could hide my mistake from my co-workers and not suffer through their disdain. Of course, now I'm publishing this on-line for the whole world to read, collectively raise their fingers at the screen, and chant "Ha ha!" in unison. I'm a fucking idiot.

However, I'm an elated idiot, because when I finally put the big one on top (snicker), it turned out that I had pretty much a quantitative yield. This caused me to do a little, grotesque version of a dance. You see, for the past few weeks, I've been working on large scale chemistry that has frustrated the hell out of me because I'm not used to things crashing out of solution at the most inopportune times. Yet, despite these frustrations, I learned a lot about how to handle myself in these situations in the future so that if when I have to do this again, I'll be golden.

Now, to focus on that whole subtraction thing...

3 comments:

Chemgeek said...

I think it was 6th or 7th grade after a long summer vacation. I remember getting a math assignment on the first day and for the life of me, I could not remember how to do multiplication or division. It shouldn't have been that big of a deal. It was just something I hadn't seen in about 3 months so it wasn't fresh in my mind. No problem really. But I freaked out. I really panicked. How does on forget how to multiply. After several minutes of thinking my life was over, I finally figured it out and my mountain went back to being a mole hill.

Ψ*Ψ said...

"Quantitative" is pretty much my favorite word ever.
On "bad stoichiometry" days, I try to stay out of the lab. Fortunately, those are very rare and tend to be brought on by lack of sleep.

The Ex said...

I thought the small one went on top. I think I've been doing it wrong.