Tuesday 7 October 2014

Local Pub Hosts Royal Society of Chemistry Soirée

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A talk for members of the Royal Society of Chemistry took place at the Locomotion No. 1 public house, Co. Durham, UK, on the evening of Monday 6th Oct. 2014.

Royal Society members and guests gathered in the cosy barroom, warmed by the large coal fire, and relaxed with drinks. Dr. John Hudson, the speaker, began his lecture - Early Railway Chemistry and its Legacy.

Dr. Hudson began with boiler explosions and explained the need for chemical analysis and treatment of water, to prevent internal lime-scale build up. His talk was excellently illustrated with many slides, as above. The location for the talk couldn't have been better. The Locomotion No.1 pub stands at the very spot where the first passenger loco exploded in November 1828!

Other highlights from the talk included -
  • Faraday's involvement with the unbelievable 1830's practice of using mercury(II) chloride (corrosive sublimate - a deadly poison) as a wood preservative on the railways. Toxic wood preservatives are of interest to me, see here.
  • The failure of copper fireboxes was found, through analysis, to be due to the copper being too pure. Earlier fireboxes had been made with copper containing impurities, and they didn't fail. Such metal had been phased out, due to demand for high quality copper for the growing electrical industry. It was determined that arsenic was the required "impurity" for firebox robustness, thence to become a vital ingredient for all loco copper.
These were just a few of many varied examples Dr. Hudson gave, to instil within the audience the value of  chemists to the genesis of the present global rail network. He's written a book on the subject of the talk -

Early Railway Chemistry and its Legacy

His book can be previewed on Google books here
You can buy it on Amazon here
More on Locomotion No.1 and the pub here

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Unrelated to this post, below is an example of
eclectic science esoterica 

The Radiochemistry of Radium. Harold W. Kirby, Murrell Leon Salutsky, 1964

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