TSI Friday 26/9/2013

This week TSI Friday showcased two chemistry talks with Helena enlightening us on the various uses of bicarbonate of soda and Claire explaining the Poisoner’s Corridor and the history of some decidedly unpleasant poisons.

Photo 27-09-2013 14 10 42 (HDR)

Claire Kicked it off with a little tail of cadmium, the lightest of the poisonous elements in the corridor; after being mined with zinc from the earth, the cadmium would then dissolve into nearby water and seep into the paddy fields. The rice would then get contaminated with cadmium and consumers of the rice would get brittle bones along with aches and pains; Not good for the locals. Thallium, also known as ‘The Prisoners’ Poison’, was used by one poisoner to spike food and drinks. Considering it’s almost undetectable, Thallium is a very effective poison. Claire talked about Graham Young, a serial killer who poisoned his own family, was detained under the mental health act, was released and went on to poison 70 more people before being arrested again. Lead, Bismuth and Mercury also lie in the corridor, each with their own toxic uses.

We then had the joy of hearing about sodium bicarbonate from Helena. Not only can it be used for baking cakes and making mini volcanoes, but it has some other pretty cool uses. Bicarbonate of soda can be a way of trapping carbon dioxide produced in power stations; it can also aid sportsman performance by reducing acidity in the muscles from lactic acid. NaHCO3 has some possible uses such as cleaning silver and gold, your teeth and even uranium if you ever happen to have some lying around. It’s a useful fire retardant and can even be used to remove bad smells from your fridge. Oh and if you ever get stung by a bee whilst in the kitchen, apply the bicarbonate of soda from your draw on the affected area and that should sooth the symptoms… BUT! do not apply to wasp stings as it will just make it worse.


It was great to see a good audience in the second TSI session of the year; hopefully this can continue through the term and into the new year. It was also great to see lots of new faces in the crowd. Everyone left smiling with a cake in hand, baked by Helena herself… hopefully not poisoned cake.

Any sixth formers wanting to do a talk can contact any Head of Science; trust me, from experience, they are very satisfying to do. Here is a photo of a Head of Science in case you’re not sure what they look like:

Photo 27-09-2013 14 07 37

Alternatively you can email them:

PAS@reigategrammar.org                    EDR@reigategrammar.org                TSD@reigategrammar.org

Finally, here’s the video which wouldn’t play for Helena

Mike Ellis


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