The “black history” of the laboratory

  When it comes to laboratories, most people have the impression that they are tidy and clean, with many rules and regulations. The requirements of high school chemistry laboratories are already daunting, not to mention those professional laboratories. However, almost 100 years ago, these supposedly “tall” laboratories were actually horribly random. Their experimental protective measures are too crude, and even some methods of operation can be described as horror.
  Pipetting is a common operation in biomedical or chemical experiments. However, from the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, many scientists used their mouths to suck the pipette! At that time, there were no advanced tools such as pipette guns, and the vacuum source needed for pipetting was basically only produced by hand-squeezing the rubber tip. However, this method is okay for general rough pipetting, and it is powerless when precise pipetting operations are required.
  At that time, a big event happened. American businessman Marvin Stone got inspiration from the straw that Americans love to suck on ice wine with straws, and made a straw in his cigarette factory. Since then, straws have set off a process of change in the beverage industry, and many people are using straws, as if it were a symbol of fashion.
  Against this background, I don’t know who came up with a whim, and thought of using methods like straws and drinks to pipette liquid. In order to ensure the accuracy of the pipetting volume, they put one end of a slender glass tube with graduations in the mouth and the other end into the liquid, looking at the graduations and sucking as much as you want. Although the problem of precise pipetting is solved by the mouth, it also brings new troubles. The liquids used in the experiment are not all harmless liquids. In case of accidental inhalation, diarrhea in the mild cases and unconsciousness in the severe cases.
  Some people think of putting a piece of cotton on the upper end of the glass tube to prevent the solution from being sucked into the mouth. Cotton padding can indeed reduce certain risks, but cotton cannot withstand the corrosion of solutions such as concentrated ammonia and concentrated hydrochloric acid.
  This is not the most dangerous. In some biochemical laboratories, experimenters even use their mouths to directly suck the culture solution of pathogens. It is documented that the first case of infection caused by mouth pipetting occurred in 1893. A physician was unfortunately infected by accidentally inhaling the culture solution of typhoid bacilli during the operation. A survey pointed out that by 1915, about 40% of laboratory-sourced infections were caused by sucking and pipetting. Infection occurs almost once every five sucking and pipetting operations.
  These experimenters have smoked typhoid bacillus, salmonella, Bacillus anthracis, streptococcus, Treponema pallidum, hepatitis virus, etc.
  In addition to these physical tortures, they may also suffer psychological shocks because they sometimes even have to pipette urine samples, stool samples, and parasite samples.
  The practice of sucking and pipetting is indeed creepy, but some discoveries are based on such operations. The three world-renowned sweeteners, saccharin, cyclamate, and aspartame, were accidentally discovered by tasting unknown chemicals. It is said that the discoverer of saccharin did not wash his hands after finishing the experiment, and had a “sweet meal” because his finger touched the plate when he went home to eat. He was puzzled, went back to the laboratory and licked all the medicines and solutions he had come into contact with, and finally found a substance that was hundreds of times sweeter than sucrose.
  The famous Madame Curie is also an example. She deals with various radioactive elements all the year round and is fascinated by the research of radioactive elements. She wrote: “Walking into the studio at night is one of our pleasures. The glass bottles containing the experimental products are fascinated in the dark, emitting dim light in all directions. The sight is so cute and you will never tire of them. Those belts The brightly lit test tube is like a light in a fairy tale.”
  She often even carries a small glass bottle containing radioactive elements with her, which she can play with at any time. Due to personal professional habits, Mrs. Curie also does not pay attention to washing hands in time. The place where she lives and works is also the “severe disaster area”. Until now, Marie Curie’s laboratory is one of the top ten locations with extremely high radiation levels in the world. Marie Curie’s notebook has to be kept in a lead box all the year round to isolate it from radiation.
  It is understandable that the experimental operations such as sucking and pipetting, licking the test product, and exposure to radiation are due to technical impermissibility or lack of knowledge. However, some scientists have been in danger since they decided to start the experiment.
  The life of chemist Robert William Bunsen is simply a living experimental safety guide. Bunsheng is very interested in science, especially chemistry. He is courageous, but he has no sense of safety, and he especially likes dangerous experiments.
  He began to study some highly toxic substances in his early years, such as arsenate, arsenite, cyanide, etc. For a long time, not only has there been no accident, but an antidote to arsenic poisoning has also been found. It may be this experience that caused him to pay less attention to safety. Before long, Bunsang used two highly toxic substances to produce arsenic cyanide. This is a very dangerous substance. It is highly toxic and unstable.
  Bunsen studied this substance without any protective measures. In an experiment, a bottle of arsenic cyanide solution exploded, blinding his right eye. With the in-depth research on dimethylarsenic-based compounds, Bunsang has gained a lot. But at the same time, he almost died because of inhaling a large amount of arsenic-based compound vapor.
  Looking at the blood and tears of the development of human scientific experiments, one can’t help but contemplate. Some of them ignored the safety of experimental operations. Of course, most scientists were constrained by the level of knowledge at the time. They don’t know what is harmful and how to avoid harm, so they have to use flesh and blood to try and make mistakes. But in any case, they are great.
  For scientific researchers, these warriors exchanged blood and tears for the reliable experimental safety regulations. These warriors have made great contributions to the scientific cause of all mankind with their health and even their lives.