1. "Hey, who dropped that condenser out on the floor in front of my hood? That looks just like the one I had on my reaction flask. . ."
It is. Your reaction is a bit more energetic than you thought.
2. "How come the toxicology people haven’t called me about our lead compound yet? Two-week tox finished a while ago, and usually they’re a lot faster than this. . . "
The rats exhibited a 100% mortality response, and tox is trying to find a nice way of letting you down easy.
3. "Is there any active aluminum compound left in this reaction or what? I keep dripping methanol into it to quench it, and nothing’s going on at all so far. . ."
The compound is very highly reactive. The methanol is supposed to slowly react with it so it won't go BOOM. It does not appear to be doing anything, so there's nothing left of the nasty stuff.
Either that, or it's going to react all at once and go BOOM.
4. "Who’s going to scale up our candidate compound, anyway? We need 300 grams of the stuff, and the scale-up group is booked solid. . ."
"Well, we could just make it ourselves..." with a high likelihood of BOOM in the near future as reactions that barely warm a test tube in milligram scale are moved three orders of magnitude up the line.
5. "So, is this the high-pressure hydrogen line or the low-pressure one that I’m opening?"
BOOM is, of course, the answer.
6. "I wonder what the error bars are on that behavioral assay. . ."
The compound appears effective at calming mice down. It unfortunately makes 10% of them dead and another 10% violently psychotic.
There's also Things I Won't Work With: Cyanogen Azide
There were scattered reports of the compound in the older German and French literature, but since these referred to the isolation of crystalline compounds which did not necessarily blow the lab windows out, they were clearly mistaken. F. D. Marsh at DuPont made the real thing in the 1960s (first report here, follow-up after eight no-doubt-exciting years here). It's a clear oil, not that many people have seen it that state, or at least not for long. Marsh's papers are, most appropriately, well marbled with warnings about how to handle the stuff. It's described as "a colorless oil which detonates with great violence when subjected to mild mechanical, thermal, or electrical shock", and apologies are made for the fact that most of its properties have been determined in dilute solution. For example, its boiling point, the 1972 paper notes dryly, has not been determined. (The person who determined it would have to communicate the data from the afterworld, for one thing).
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