From: Judy Seigel (email@example.com)
Date: 02/21/03-12:31:30 AM Z
On Thu, 20 Feb 2003, Richard Sullivan wrote:
> There was a long discussion following my original critique of the article
> in PF in which others alluded to the safety of aqua regia. I do not have a
> copy of PF #3 on hand but I have been told there is a picture of Liam in
> what appears to be a kitchen.
Dick, you said as follows ON THE LIST, June 18, 1999:
QUOTE: "I just got my copy of Post Factory and... this goes beyond the
So I doubt if any one "told" you anything...
You then proceded to warn of dangers in a VERY excited tone, which I don't
repeat here for fear of, um, making matters worse. But you cited the
horrors of a runaway reaction, and not following instructions (in which
case of course NO formula is safe).
Among other dangers, you declared, What if someone "got excited and poured
water into the acid?... Every trained chemist knows not to pour water into
acid" (June 19, 1999).
Liam said he'd done that, that nothing happened, and that aqua regia isn't
a fuming acid in any event.
But you ignored whatever Liam said, claiming that Liam and I had "tried
unsuccessfully to argue [our] way out of the article's errors." That "Just
because Liam got away with putting water into acid once does not say I can
do it or he can do it again." (June 24, 1999).
Really, such a view of chemicals as entirely quixotic would rather make a
mockery of a "safety sheet," wouldn't it ?
But for nearly a week, you extended denunciation of the article as
"totally irresponsible," unethical, and requiring a retraction.. No
matter that your chemistry was off (citing a runaway reaction in other
chemicals and applying it to gold, citing extreme conditions which could
melt the tar on your roof, etc. ignoring all explanations and
corrections), you declared a "moral imperative" to retract the article,
which you would have done yourself, except, "I don't have the subscriber
As for the kitchen business: On June 23,1999, I wrote to the list,
"I want to address... your interpretation of the photograph...a man in a
'darkroom' presumably making gold chloride, presumably going to cause
readers to leave off gloves and goggles, despite warnings throughout the
text, indeed throughout the issue.
"That photograph is a spoof, and clearly so. Yes, it's Liam in his Gromit
T-shirt, in his KITCHEN -- see the nice moo-cow on the wall? He's hamming
it up, in a picture taken by his wife.... As for the dark glasses, Liam
wears them because he's blind in one eye, result of a road accident aged
7, hit by a car on his bicycle" (And I pointed out that his hands echoed
the position of the alchemist on the opposite page, who didn't have gloves
and mask either.)
So why STILL, 3 years later, the subject line, "Kitchen brewed gold
chloride! Not!" If you have no memory of the event and comments at the
time, are we going to have to go through this again 3 or 4 years hence,
assuming we haven't all succumbed to DHB or terror attacks, or other?
Now you say,
> ....I want to point out that there are all kinds of issues
> concerning chemistry today that go beyond what was traditionally the case.
Probably so, but that doesn't change the facts I've reported -- although
your concern for *Post-Factory's* responsibility of 1999 is...
> > > The issue at hand was safety. I believe some correction were made in No 4
> > > but the problem still exists as many here might read No. 3 without the
> > > benefit of the corrections in No 4. It is highly doubtful that anyone would
> > > try this trick at home but someone just might as the article proposes just
> > > such a project.
Here again, you garble the past. No "corrections' were made in #4, but
simply a transcript of the list exchanges of the original "Gold Flap,"
from which I have quoted above. Am I to assume your "safety" ("Hygene")
advisory now is more precise than your recollection of this episode ?
Meanwhile, perhaps you would comment -- as a number of posters to the
list did in that long ago June, 1999 -- what about the dangers of wet
plate, of ether, gunpowder and rat poison, of cyanogen gas which is the
same as the stuff the Nazi's called Zyklon B, and easily made when
ordinary darkroom solutions are mixed that shouldn't be. (And the only
explosion I know of was a container of glacial acetic.) Etc.
As someone pointed out on that long-ago thread, the Post-Factory article
had more warnings than other literature, old or new... The Silver Sunbeam
was available on a website. Shouldn't we denounce that?
And finally, the supply list for the article in question included:
fume hood or strong ventilation
large container of plain water or flush kit
AND, a 1 litre container for mixing 2 ounces.
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