I was a teenage nerd. I played roleplaying games. I liked comic books. I read dozens of science fiction books. For a brief, shining period, I ran the high school math club. I did science projects: painfully simplistic cryptography systems. But hard science was never my thing; I could talk your ear off about Galois theory, four-word definitions of, say, the Krebs cycle or tribolumiscence ("how cells digest glucose" and "why Wintergreen lifesavers spark", respectively) are probably the most I could muster. But catalogs like American Science & Surplus, Fisher Scientific, and Einstein’s Garage stir some sort of residual Tom Swift fantasy. They’re like the Archie McPhee catalog with fewer action figures and more possibilities for explosions. Strange things can happen when you merge an adult budget with a childlike inability to follow simple, sensible directions; I should probably keep these catalogs far away from me and stick with safer catalogs, like Penzey’s. But even though I doubt I would ever use it, the idea of putting together a chemistry set is somehow terribly appealing to me. I’m apparently not the only one. Maybe I’ll just get some Pyrex labware to drink whisky out of. Things go boom! None