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Undergraduate Education

Chemistry in Pictures: Alchemy or intro chem?

by Craig Bettenhausen
August 21, 2019

Credit: Gregory J. Rummo

In an experiment that Gregory J. Rummo teaches his general chemistry students, the students make six solutions of known concentrations of Fe(NCS)2+, aka isothiocyanatoiron (III), in dilute nitric acid. Students then measure how much light at 447 nm that each solution absorbs to understand the reaction between the iron and the thiocyanate.

But on this particular day, this set of samples was at just the right angle to catch the light so that the normally red-orange solutions looked like gold.

Credit: Gregory J. Rummo, @GregRummo on Twitter

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Apurva Pradhan (August 26, 2019 10:59 PM)
While this may be dilute nitric acid and is an experiment done in undergraduate labs, the photograph of a researcher handling test tubes full of potentially hazardous chemicals while not wearing gloves is unacceptable. I believe ACS and C&EN should foster a culture of safety and part of this would be to ensure that any photographs used in their articles have researchers wearing proper PPE including gloves, safety glasses, and lab coats when handling chemicals.
Jyllian Kemsley (August 29, 2019 12:38 PM)
@Arpurva--We do consider appropriate PPE when selecting photos. In this case, because thiocyanate is a low-hazard irritant and it was in dilute aqueous nitric acid solutions, we thought gloves were unnecessary. If you've done a risk analysis to suggest otherwise, we'd be happy to hear your arguments.

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