Office of the President

THEODORA KALIKOW: Remember that 1950s chemistry lab? Maine university still has it.

Read President Kalikow's latest article in the Kennebec Journal.

Once upon a time, when the Earth’s crust was barely cool, I was a junior in high school and it was time for chemistry class. I was wild about atoms and molecules and now, at last, I was going to learn formally about them. 

So my pals (the science geeks) and I bounded up to the top floor of the old Swampscott High School and confronted The Chemistry Classroom.

 It was romantic and darkly mysterious, and it smelled funny. The Periodic Table of the Elements above the dusty blackboard went up to Element 101(predicted). And beyond the tablet desks in neat rows: The Lab. 

It was state of the art, 1956. Brown wooden cabinets. Black countertops with the finish already somewhat eaten by — what? Glary lights. Mysterious pipes. Scaly soapstone sinks. Bunsen burners. Huge (10-gallon) jugs of distilled water. Beakers, test tubes, Erlenmeyer flasks, stirring rods, tweezers, pipettes, cylinders full of chemical solutions. 

This room likely held some acid that would eat right through the floor, and possibly right down to the center of the Earth, if we could only find it. Soon, we’d know. We imagined bubbling horrors that we would learn to concoct all by ourselves.

Continue reading here: Kennebec Journal