OK Folks it’s time to get your gauze, tripod, ceramic mat and goggles on as we enter the world of all things chemistry, expertly guided by the hand of Google who are today celebrating the 200th birthday of Robert Bunsen, he of the Bunsen burner fame.
I’m sure thousands of internet journalists will be writing about Bunsen today, telling you about his past and how he came to invent one of the most important scientific devices in the history of scientific devices, but I want to go down a different road – I want to share a more personal experience with you.
This experience has to be hypothetical as the man is long dead and I therefore can not have a conversation face-to-face with him, so instead I’m going to reprimand Bobby Bunsen in a retrospective fashion.
If I could go back in time I’d tell Bob that his device, while a raging success and still widely used today in professional and school labs, is in fact a source of much foolery and misery to many school students across the globe – myself included.
I’d ask Bob to reconsider his design and think about the future where kids would be a different breed akin to mischievous little Chupacabras, rampaging through life like the urban equivalent of Lord of the Flies with the sole aim of wreaking as much havoc in class as possible whether the teacher is present or not.
I’d also ask him for the reimbursement of several school ties and a clutch of favourite pens that went the way of the blue flame, not to mention the lunch I once lost to a strip of magnesium, a pair of tongues and an over-zealous pyromaniac. I don’t think my retinas ever fully recovered.
[adsense]Yes I was guilty too, but as the saying goes, “Shit rolls downhill,” and being somewhere in the middle of the school bully/victim hierarchy it was my job to take my frustration out on those a step or two below me. I don’t know who invented the school hierarchy system but it sucked and still sucks today as far as I’m aware.
I remember more than once bypassing the Bunsen burner and just lighting the gas tap, much to the delight of my classmates but not so much the teacher. That cost me a few lunchtimes and ultimately my chemistry GCSE which brought me an ‘F’ and a clout from my very disappointed grandfather.
Yes Robert Bunsen; while countless generations of scientists have and will continue to applaud your simple invention, I do not, because giving high school children access to Bunsen burners is about as responsible as selling arms to dictators and not expecting them to kill their own people with them.
Please share your thoughts on Robert Bunsen and his weapon of mass disruption by leaving a comment.
Images: google.com; britannica.com