Paranoia makes for bad chemistry: Most budding scientists – and many of us ordinary folks, too – owned a chemistry set. It was probably a fold-out metal contraption, with built-in shelves securing rows of small, opaque plastic bottles containing powders and pebbles – some plain, dull white, but others glinting like jewels in shades of purple, magenta, indigo, gold and silver. There were liquids, too, thick with their own opalescent shades. The bottles bore labels emblazoned with exotic, multi-word names, usually ending in “ide” or “ium” or “ate.” Beakers, test tubes, pipettes, flasks and funnels made of glass were part of the package, as were Bunsen burners.
Don’t Try This at Home. ‘Garage chemistry used to be a rite of passage for geeky kids. But in their search for terrorist cells and meth labs, authorities are making a federal case out of DIY science.’