My current adviser has successfully managed a research group for more than 30 years. He has produced hundreds of publications and acquired a wealth of chemistry knowledge. Last week, when the group moved into a new lab, we boxed and unboxed the tools that helped build this knowledge: a grand collection of equipment, glassware and chemicals.
It has become abundantly clear that with much knowledge comes much glassware.
And not simply your everyday beakers or Erlenmeyer flasks, but unique glassware created for specific experiments. While this glassware once had high utility, it is now a fossil of long-ago projects gathering dust in the archives (and by archives I mean that drawer full of weird glassware that no one uses).
The graduate student or postdoc who preformed the long-forgotten experiment has moved on and taken with them the explanation of the glassware’s function.
The inquiring minds of my research group would like your help in identifying/explaining the five of the most interesting specimens.
1) The Immersion Condenser
The first item is an immersion condenser or cold finger with an o-ring connector and an inlet/outlet for cold water. The question is why does it have the weird tip at the end?
Since many of you are currently trying your hardest to come up with a funny/witty comment, I will make a preemptive, unclever strike: PENIS! PENIS! PENIS!
2) The Pitch Fork
Each of the glass rods in this image has a small (~1-2 mm) tube inside so it behaves as a four-way junction. Why this specific shape?
3) The Meth Pipe
This item has two openings. The smaller one has a long stem that encircles the larger opening several times until they both meet in a conical chamber. As you can tell from my label, our guesses on this glassware’s purpose were limited.
4) The all-in-one Reflux/Distillation/Addition Funnel Apparatus
The form of this item is relatively straight forward with the exception of the absent Teflon or glass stopcock just above the lowest round bottom flask. What is it for?
5) The Bubbler
This is the piece that I am most curious about. At first glance it appears to be a plain bubbler with a smaller inlet tube that runs to the bottom of the larger chamber which has an outlet near the top. Upon further inspection, we find that there is an additional, independent piece of glass in the inner tube that is free to move vertically (inset). The independent piece of glass is a sealed chamber either filled with a gas or is simply a vacuum. On the top of this piece is a ground-glass ball joint. The counter to this ball joint is a socket with an opening from the top inlet. Our best guess for this piece is that, unlike a normal bubbler, the inlet is reversed and is for liquid to flow directly into the larger chamber. As that chamber fills, the freely moving piece is buoyant and will continue to move upward with the solvent. Once the chamber has filled with enough solvent it will push the ball and socket joint together preventing the further flow of liquid. If this guess is indeed correct, what would you use it for?
Any insight you can offer is greatly appreciated.