What is Amateur Chemistry or Mad Science?
Mad Science is about monsters, insanity, pitchfork-wielding villagers, and Things Man was Not Meant to Know. More prosaically, Mad Science is about exploring and manipulating aspects of the natural world without the facilities or resources of "sane science" as practiced in academic, industrial, and governmental research settings. Such chemists must generally pay for expenses out of their own pockets, which may not be very deep. Because of these financial constraints they must work without the extensive and expensive equipment available in a real lab. As annoying and potentially hazardous as it is, for most Mad Scientists the lab is a shed, basement, bedroom, or garage, and the fumehood is the great outdoors.
It should not be confused with clandestine chemistry, which involves the illicit production of controlled drugs, nor with terrorism, that is, the production of illegal explosive devices. Infact, throughout much of the 20th century, amateur chemistry was an unexceptional hobby, with high-quality chemistry sets readily available, and laboratory suppliers freely selling to hobbyists. For example, Linus Pauling had no difficulty in procuring the salt potassium cyanide at the age of eleven. However, due to increasing concerns about terrorism, drugs and safety, suppliers became increasingly reluctant to sell to amateurs, and chemistry sets were steadily toned down. This trend has gradually continued, leaving hobbyists in many parts of the world without access to many important reagents. Therefore, Amateur Chemists must be very resourceful - often enough, the chemical supply houses are local hardware shops, supermarkets, home improvement stores and auction sites such as eBay or Amazon.