What burner am I celebrating today?

March 31, 2012

March 31 is Bunsen Burner Day – commemorating the birth in 1811 of German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen, the inventor (refiner) of the laboratory device that bears his name.

I relate the tale of when I was in college chemistry lab.  We were doing something with hydrochloric acid that involved heating it in a test tube over a – you guessed it – Bunsen burner.  I was working next to a nice fellow whose name I do not remember.  I do remember that the acid in my test tube kept boiling and shooting out of the test tube, showering my lab neighbor with a fine spray of hot hydrochloric acid.  I do remember him saying, “Oh, Oo, Ow.” I do remember apologizing over and over.  I do remember him being very gracious.  I also remember seeing a number of small holes begin to appear in his clothing.  I did not point that out to him.  Anyway, lab neighbor from the past, I am still sorry and hope you have suffered no lasting consequences.

So a salute to Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen, who made this laboratory escapade possible.

Flame on!

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