Pure Headache

, , , , | Learning | May 30, 2017

(I’m in A-level chemistry, and we’re making paracetamol (Tylenol) in our lab. My lab partner and I have completed all the steps and now have a small pile of white powder on a watch glass. Our teacher notices and comes over to talk to us about the write up.)

Teacher: “So you need to make sure you’ve written down all your values as accurately as possible, to work out how much you should have made, so you can compare it to how much you actually made.”

Partner: “How do we know how much we’ve actually made?”

Teacher: “Well, you just weigh it.”

Partner: “No, but how do we know it’s pure? It could just be chalk for all we know.”

Me: “I have a headache; I could eat some and see if it goes away?”

(I didn’t, nor did I plan to, eat any of it, but as my teacher pointed out, my answer technically wasn’t wrong, just ill-advised. Our next lesson was about calculating purity from melting points.)

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