(March 2001, Tennessee) A friend of mine attended a private school in Nashville, and one of his chemistry teachers may well have become a Darwin winner by now. She told the class one day that salt is made in factories, to the disbelief of most of the kids who knew that salt is mined as a natural mineral. My friend Andy called her on it, yet still she insisted she had seen the process. Teachers hate to be corrected. She sarcastically asked him if he thought salt "came out of the ground."
Andy asked if she could provide a practical demonstration, but no sodium was available. So he suggested that creating another salt, such as potassium bromide, would be close enough. She sent him to fetch elemental potassium and bromine from the chemistry lab. He also took the liberty of turning off the electricity and gas supply to her work station, just in case, then returned to the classroom with a plastic tub, a bottle of bromine, rubber gloves, tongs, and a half-pound block of potassium.
Andy placed the tub in the sink, poured in the bromine, and handed the other items to the teacher. He retreated to the door while the teacher encouraged the other students to move closer. Having some idea of what might happen, none of them did.
Andy encouraged his teacher to exercise caution, and just scrape a few flakes of the potassium into the bromine. But she didn't heed his warning. " I want to make enough for everyone to take some home with them." As he ducked around the doorway, she dropped the entire block of potassium into the bromine, which immediately exploded.
When the dust cleared, the workstation was a pile of splinters and the teacher had a broken arm. When the headmaster interrogated them together a few days later, they corroborated each others' versions of the story. All the headmaster could do was shake his head in disbelief.
So far as I know, this is a true story. My friend tells very good stories, and has had enough odd things happen in his life that I believe this one.
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Submitted by: J.F.