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Old 08-28-2003, 12:11 AM
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Starting with the remco electrochem kit in a can ( anyone recall this?) when I
was four or five.
Anyone recall the Gilbert and Porter chem sets ( awful!)?

Has anyone read the wonderful book "Uncle Tungsten" by Oliver Sacks about his
childhood chem experiments.
If not --- I recommend it!
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Old 08-28-2003, 12:49 AM
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PSmith9626 wrote:

Just the opposite for me. That chemistry set decided my life's work. And
I still can't keep myself away from it even after ten years in
retirement. I remember the guy I hired when I was department chairman
and late when we shared an office. We were both of the opinion that we
would actually pay them to let us do this stuff we loved it so.
Nevertheless we both retired at the same time. The classroom part of it
had become not as joyful as in the past.

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Old 08-28-2003, 09:46 AM
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Dear f,
Oh. I loved the chemistry sets. But, they weren't very educational--the Gilbert
one was all about "chemical magic tricks". The original Remco electrochemistry
kit was the best--it was really electrochem.

But, of course--like most people here probably--I started to buy chemicals
and equipment ( from the back of Popular Science--the ads) and do my own better
experiments. My family had a bunch of old
(1930's) popular science mags with a series of wonderful chemical experiments
in them ( anyone recall those?).

It was Sylvia E --my chem teacher--and her obscurity--that pushed me into
theory. I posted on that. She did the same--thirty years earlier to ---Richard

I bet that the chem set from the thirties that you had was a lot more chemistry
oriented than its descendent from the 1960's that I had.

This cannot be what I played with. It must have been well dumbed down by my
But, the remco electrochem kit was good.

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Old 08-28-2003, 04:42 PM
Repeating Decimal
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in article [Only registered users see links. ], PSmith9626 at
[Only registered users see links. ] wrote on 8/28/03 2:46 AM:

A real chemistry set was too pricey for my family when I was a kid. I lived
in the Bronx (NYC) and met a student who went to the Bronx High School of
Science. He had chemicals and was into qualitative analysis. In high school
I bought chemicals mostly from Ace Scientific on West Broadway. It was a mom
and pop outfit and the prices were extremely cheap compared to Wynn and
other Popular Science purveyors to ignorant kids. They would sell me stuff
that I would have difficulty getting now, like red and white phosphorous.

I wish there were something like Ace around now. I just received some pH
meter stuff from Wilkem Scientific in Rhode Island. Even though I could
locate pH meters and electrodes at VWR, which is no longer local, they would
not sell it to me. It was restricted. They didn't even know why it was
restricted. My guess is the war on drugs and its collateral damage. Even
Wilkem would not sell me chemicals. Liability is a big problem.

At the local Loyola Marymount University, even chemistry majors are not
allowed to use concentrated sulfuric acid. For my needs (hydroponics) I get
sulfuric acid drain cleaner. I think this craziness is stifling a whole
generation of potential chemists.


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Old 08-28-2003, 08:32 PM
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Repeating Decimal wrote:

Yes, the sets were dumbed down. I bought one for my daughter in the late
60's and she lost interest in it quickly. I looked over the
materials and handbooks and I see why she lost interest. My set had
enough chemicals so I was able to start a hydroponic garden on my window
sill even though there was no listed experiment for that. I grew
tomatoes and peppers. Kind of sloppy however (capillary action causing

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Old 08-29-2003, 02:21 AM
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Dear bill,
I spent years of my childhood close to where Tremont and the Grand Concourse

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Old 08-29-2003, 11:04 PM
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PSmith9626 wrote:

I lived at 1174 Grant Ave in the Bronx when very young. Later on
Davidson Ave a half block south of Fordham Rd. Later still at 1021
Gerard Av a few blocks north of Yankee Stadium. After that it was near
Gramercy Park in Manhattan and then the US Army followed by Peekskill NY
and then grad school in Chicago and remained in the area ever since.

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