There are two things I learned in my organic technology lab. The first one is that formic acid is corrosive. The second one is that a superslurper can take 600 times its weight in water.
Who would have thought that vinegar's little cousin is so nasty to your skin? It has the same R and S statements as acetic acid. How would I have known it's so bad? I guess I could have known because ants wouldn't use it if it weren't bad (but how do they handle it?). Anyway, it was only a small bit of my skin.
A less dangerous procedure is synthesising the essential part of a diaper. A super slurper is starch copolymerised with acrylnitrile and 2-acrylamido-2-methyl-1-propanesulfonic acid. The nitrile groups are partially hydrolysed, then it looks like this.
You start out with a few crumbs ...
... add water ...
... and you get huge amounts of jelly.
It took about 100 times its weight in water. This apparently goes up to 600.
The Time of a Postdoc - How long should someone stay as a postdoc anywhere?
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