Thursday, August 17, 2006

Stupidity is not soluble

TO: Valued colleagues.
FROM: The IT Department.

Dear colleagues,
When you give me brand new installation CD's with important software that must be installed on our computers...

...kindly remember to not write your name on the data side of the disk in big black texta. Call me pedantic if you must, but it helps the little elves inside the computers do their job.

Some people shouldn't be let near anything more complicated than a fork. With a cork on it.

However, not to be put off, I saw this as an opportunity to do an experiment. I love working where I do. They give me my own fully equipped woodwork, metalwork and chemistry labs, full of wonderful and dangerous objects.
Do you want 18 molar sulfuric acid in a hurry? Solid Sodium? An arc welder? Try getting those from your 9-5 Dilbert-style cubicle farm in the CBD. Tomorrow, I get to spend the whole day at Jenolan Caves on an excursion. It's a great job, apart from our... "special" staff.

Task: What solvents remove texta from a CD without, say, eating through the CD and the floor beneath?
Here, I offer my totally scientific findings as a gift to the corpus of human knowledge.
I went to the Science lab and assembled a list of anything that looked cool.
  • Methanol (Methylated spirits), Ethanol (regular alcohol, but don't drink it unless you've really run out of everything else), and Propan-2-ol (Isopropyl Alcohol) all work satisfactorily in removing texta without damaging the surface or data on the disk itself.
  • Acetone (propanone, "nail polish remover") is immediately corrosive to the disk and eats deeply into the plastic.
  • I thought the blue bottle in the picture above was equivalent to Windex and would include Ammonia, but further inspection showed it was an Aldi cleaner named "Power Force" and by the smell of it, contains no ammonia at all. "Power Force"? Who invents these crazy product names? Besides, that's so redundant. Power = Watts = Newtons x Average velocity. Also, Force = Newtons. Thus this cleaning product would properly be called (Newtons-squared meters) per second. Sadly, this is probably lost on most Aldi customers.
  • Unperturbed, I also tried a 0.5 molar Ammonia solution, and finally, 18 molar Sulfuric acid. Bizarrely, neither had any effect on either the texta or the plastic, although the acid was not on there for long. Perhaps I should have tried a Piranha Bath. That would have been cool.

My sacrificial disk. The Acetone scar is leftmost.

However, my primary conclusion is that stupidity is insoluble in a range of organic solvents.


Tam said...

lol. Well thought out *special staff*


Joel Baltaks said...

Haha! Fantastic. Next time I accidentally write in texta on some such media, I'll just pour some of the scotch I'm drinking onto the disk - that should do the trick. I'm kinda glad ammonia is out because I'd hate to have to improvise for that one.

Hey, I like the PowerForce analysis. I wonder how many WattNewtons are contained in the bottle? Presumably this is on the information panel printed on the side.

This should be standard curriculum stuff - figuring out what will and won't destroy something is entertaining and educational.

ADHD Librarian said...

Why do they have corks on their forks?

No Nathan, I didn't mean to say it. Not the genital cuff please.

Bdidi said...

18 Molar sulfuric acid? So you're the one who's been raiding my drinks cabinet!