What was your most noteworthy accomplishment in science class from when you were in the fifth grade?
Perhaps it might be learning the first few elements of the periodic table by heart, or being able to recognize the various kinds of clouds in the sky. Some people may recall memories from a science fair at school, or how they felt like that baking soda-powered volcano was pretty remarkable.
Not Clara Lazen.
You see, Tetranitratoxycarbon—a molecule made of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon—was discovered by Clara Lazen when she was only 10 years old, which is what makes this story so fascinating and motivating.
During her fifth-grade science class in Kansas City, she didn’t just learn about molecules: she accidentally created a new one.
Lazen discovered that when playing with chemical modeling kits, she had produced a very intriguing structure. When the student questioned if it was a real molecule, her teacher contacted Robert Zoellner, a professor of chemistry, to gain clarification. They then understood that Lazen had discovered a new molecule.
Lazen was even credited as a co-author of their study that was then published in the peer-reviewed Computational and Theoretical Chemistry journal.
Tetranitratoxycarbon’s structure is completely unique—and it is distinctly powerful, which is why it might be able to be used as an explosive. However, the compound is synthetic and doesn’t naturally occur on our planet.
Therefore, anyone wishing to create an explosive from tetranitratoxycarbon will first need to figure out how to create the molecule.
It can’t be that hard if a fifth grader can do it, right?
Kids, don’t try this at home.
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