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Topic: Help with Civil War Era Chemistry Question  (Read 505 times)

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Offline sm12345678

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Help with Civil War Era Chemistry Question
« on: March 20, 2021, 03:25:12 PM »
Thanks in advance for looking at this post and for any help you can offer.

I'm currently writing a work of historical fiction, and I need help from someone who is familiar with the hazards of technology in the early 1860s.

If that's you, and you're interested in helping with the scenario below, please contact me.


The scenario goes like this:
A student has expressed concerns to authorities about the school's disregard for hazards in the lab.
The student's concerns have been ignored.
The student arrives in class and notices a hazard that can been seen in dim lighting from approximately 10-15 feet away.
Due to prior circumstances, the student has been forbidden to touch anything in the lab.
Irregardless of the prior instructions, the student puts on appropriate lab gear and tries to remedy the problem.
While the student is doing this, the headmaster who has been in prior conflict with the student arrives and an argument ensues.
The student ends up being kicked out of the school for insubordination, even though the student was right in the action taken.

In this scenario, the headmaster has a personal agenda against the student. That agenda plays into the professor's motivation, but it's still very important that the professor's actions are believably rational even though they're wrong. The professor has already been characterized as someone who is overseeing the science department without having adequate knowledge of the hazards.

I am thinking about possibly hydrogen gas from an early battery related to poor storage habits, and also about possibly having multiple types of experiments going on in the lab space at the same time to create the situation I'm hoping to portray. If hydrogen gas is the hazard then I'm thinking possibly the oil lamps in the room could be the trigger for a problem. But honestly, I'm way out of my league in trying to figure this out, and I am really hoping someone on this forum will be willing to help me.

I'm willing to pay an expert for time spent to help me iron out the details related to the scenario above.

Please PM me, or provide your contact information in a reply to this post, if you're interested!

Thanks again!

Offline Borek

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Re: Help with Civil War Era Chemistry Question
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2021, 05:14:48 PM »
A student has expressed concerns to authorities about the school's disregard for hazards in the lab.

Quote
the student puts on appropriate lab gear

Looks like anachronism on anachronism. You are trying to apply todays logic/customs to the historical setup. Won't work. As far as I am aware back then hazards were considered part of the trade, and the "appropriate lab gear" was "whatever you were wearing", so the whole setup doesn't make sense (no matter what the technology).
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Offline sm12345678

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Re: Help with Civil War Era Chemistry Question
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2021, 02:17:07 PM »
Good to know, thank you for the insight. I'll have to give it more thought.

Offline billnotgatez

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Re: Help with Civil War Era Chemistry Question
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2021, 02:58:28 PM »
A few things came to mind when I read your posts involving history and might not apply very much.

During the US Civil War they inflated observation balloons with hydrogen using acid and metal reaction. And, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin rode in a similar balloon around that time (1861?) while visiting as a foreign observer of the Union Forces.

Thomas Alva Edison was born on February 11, 1847 and the history of his dabbling in chemistry etc. was known to have accidents.

I wonder if World War 1 would be a better setting with use of chemicals (gas) as weapons.

If I were to write a story set in history I would read about the inventors and scientists of the time. I was told in a writing class to "write what you know or research intensely".



« Last Edit: March 21, 2021, 03:29:05 PM by billnotgatez »

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