In my recent issue of Wired, I was saddened to read an article on how the amateur exploration of science and chemistry is being criminalized. It’s all in the interests of anti-terrorism or anti fireworks laws. Mostly the ‘dumbing down’ of science has been because of the lawsuit happy nature of our society. (Gee, could the greedy lawyers and the lawyer law makers be the root cause of this? I wonder…) When the United States no longer has people winning Nobel prizes, or creating new technology, or science classes in schools become electives, all will be lost. All of the people who cry "but letting kids play with chemistry sets is dangerous and irresponsible! Think of the children!" Bah! If you give a bright kid the right tools to learn with they won’t kill themselves. Some of the less bright ones might get some injuries from adding water to an acid or something like that, but it’s a lesson learned. If enough do that then you will weed out the idiots. Harsh I know but that’s life. You never get anywhere by hiding at home and living life through what you see on TV. Having hands on experience is what makes you learn how and why things work. Look at how popular magazines like MAKE or Ready Made are. That’s because over the recent years the whole ‘hands on lets see what’s inside the black box’ creativity that made this country what is it has been bashed about it’s head and neck by litigation. Heck, even buying parts of a healthily chemistry set can get you fined or even jailed. What is this world coming to?
Anyway, here are a few links that can help open the doors to scientific exploration:
Household Chemistry from the International Order of Nitrogen
DIY – Alcohol Backpacking Stove
Scientific American’s "The Amateur Scientist"
Henley’s Formulas for Home & Workshop
Don’t break any laws with this knowledge and try not to hurt yourself. Remember that part of science is having ethics and a broader look of the world around you. Think of the impact your experiments will have on others. Be smart and responsible. And if you hurt yourself it’s your own fault.
One thought on “R.I.P. Amateur Science”
I’m glad the government is casting so wide a net in offending people, so no one single group realizes the extreme need for the REAL John (and Jane) Q. Public to take an active part in the government of the land they live in.
It looks like the set I had as a kid (just 10 or 15 years ago) would assign me to the ‘terrorist’ catagory…
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