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December 2000
Vol. 9, No. 12, p. 9.
Gilbert Toys artA Set of Memories
I very much enjoyed James M. Schmidt’s article “Yesterday’s Toy” in the September 2000 issue of Today’s Chemist at Work [p 42]. I had several chemistry sets when I was growing up and the fun that I had with them certainly was a major factor in my decision to pursue a career in chemistry. Interestingly, I was given my first chemistry set, made by Gilbert, about 1949 by a girl friend in my 5th grade class, who had gotten it for Christmas but didn’t find it very interesting. I later had a Senior Chemcraft set and an advanced Gilbert set. It’s unfortunate that chemistry sets are considered too dangerous for children in today’s society.

Robert G. Lewis
U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency

Research Triangle Park, NC

When I was a Cub Scout in Westchester, NY, Don Herbert’s wife was our den mother. I have vivid memories of various dramatic demonstrations by “Mr. and Mrs. Wizard” at our den meetings, some of which involved chemistry —the volcano eruption, for example. I, too, had the Gilbert Chemistry Kit, but I remember augmenting some of the supplies with materials obtained from the hardware and drug stores, anywhere I could find interesting chemicals. I had a bottle of muriatic acid (32% HCl) and, looking back, I was lucky I didn’t hurt or maim myself permanently.

John Hinshaw

Your September 2000 article in Today’s Chemist At Work, entitled “Yesterday’s Toy Becomes Tomorrow’s Trade”, really brought back some important memories for me. As a youngster in the ‘50s and ‘60s, who finally received a Gilbert Chemistry Set after many years of yearning, I truly enjoyed and appreciated James Schmidt’s article about the history and personal impacts of chemistry sets on America’s youth.

It’s a darned shame that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

I can honestly admit that that wondrous Christmas morning, when I was finally presented with a Gilbert Chemistry Set, was a major turning point in my scientific development.

Tom Swulius

More on IR
In his October 2000 article (“Expanding the Scope of Forensic Science”, p 44), William Atkinson omitted one of the largest suppliers of FT-IR microscopes from his list. Bio-Rad Spectroscopy Division, formerly the Digilab Division, introduced the first FT-IR microscope in 1983. This product, developed in conjunction with Spectra-Tech, revolutionized the area of infrared spectroscopy. A magazine with as large a circulation as Today’s Chemist at Work, which is a resource for all chemists from the technician to the researcher, should have included this information in its article.

Ellen V. Miseo
Technical Product Manager

Bio-Rad Spectroscopy Division
Cambridge, MA

 Author’s Reply: Dr. Miseo is welcome to make her observations, but she must appreciate that in 2000 words it is impossible to offer a compendium of all products and all manufacturers in the rapidly growing field of infrared microspectroscopy.

William Illsey Atkinson
North Vancouver, Canada

 Editor’s Note: The table of suppliers in the above-mentioned article was compiled by the Today’s Chemist at Work editorial staff. We regret that we were unable to include all IMS suppliers.

Thanks for an excellent “Why I got in this business” editorial in the September 2000 issue of Today’s Chemist at Work [p 7]. What I miss now is the smell of chemistry, which for me was part of the exotic allure. I know it wasn’t good for us to be gassing ourselves with Aitch-2-Ess generators on open benchtops, but it smelled like chemistry. Now everything is instruments.

Hunter Daughtrey

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