A Vignette: Labsplosion!

This has been a somewhat lousy week for me keeping it together and being productive. But at least today I managed something: I totally accidentally lit something on fire in a laboratory.

So, my job is pretty cool. I make coatings for paper and board that go from liquid to solid instantaneously when they are exposed to high intensity UV light. Because I need high intensity UV light to cure my stuff, we have cure units in the lab that house, for lack of a more fabulous term, miniature suns. As such, they heat stuff up pretty quickly if flammable things are held close to the lamps for a long time.

Here, a long time is about 10 seconds.

So there I was, minding my own business trying to cure some coating like it’s my job (because it is…) and my coated paper gets stuck in the machine. The following transpired:

Me (thoughts): Oh shit. It’s stuck. Hmm…what should I do…stick my hand in there? Turn it off? Hmm…such a decision. Lemme look in there. OH SHIT DON’T LOOK IN THERE JACKASS. MINI SUNS ARE ALSO BLINDING. Crap. Um…should I put my hand in there?

During this really interesting conversation I was having with myself, the machine and paper decided to solve the problem for me. Suddenly my paper came flying out of the machine, half in flames.

Me: Oh…oh that’s not good. Um…

And I proceeded to try and blow out the fire. After several attempts I succeeded, because I have a degree in science obviously. By then another lab person came over with a rag to help me stamp out the embers and the place smelled like a campfire.

I talked to several people and it had happened to them also with this particular machine (not the model I usually use, but ours is down). Some of these people have Masters degrees and PhD’s. So…um…there.

Not burning down the lab was pretty much my biggest accomplishment today, but I’d say it’s a pretty good one!

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