Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Outlawed learning

It's stories like this, from C&En, that make me leery about the future of science in the country. Sure, we talk about how important it is, but we sure don't act like it... Wired, two years back, ran a story about the same thing, and we've only got worse with time.

A lot of people'll say `But he had hazardous materials!` Well, from his rundown of what was seized, most selections of household cleansers are more dangerous. No, it's more due to overzealous laws, well-meaning legislators who don't actually know anything about what they're regulating, and the good old fashioned spill over from the war on drugs. In Texas, they're so hardlined on the war on drugs that it's illegal to purchace a number of types of glassware needed to teach kids even remedial chemistry. Never mind do any hobby chemistry at an adult level.

It's easy to get alarmed, when it comes to hobby or home chemistry. Sodium Hypochlorite, Aecetic Acid, and radioactive potassium all sound, well, frightening, if you don't have a grounding in the subject. But when you learn that these sorts of things are all around us, you start realizing that maybe, just maybe, some of the other things that DPS and the news rant off at us to prove `Danger!` are slightly, well, overstated.

Thinking back, I'm pretty sure that a lot of what my father bought for us, to learn science, is illegal or restricted these days. Go figure. For writing this post, I quickly googled some home chemistry kits, and they're pitiful. I think about all you could learn from them is how boring and stupid science is, when you do it like that.

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