Translated by: Taffy
Edited by: Frosty
Quiz 47: Water
“Brother Meng Ming, is this really fine?” Huang Qiao Yi was slightly concerned. She knew that Meng Ming had never performed an experiment before, and was worried that he’d leave things out. “It’s best if you just let me do it…”
“It’s not a problem. How could I possibly lose against that kind of person?!” Meng Ming thought that, first and foremost, his imposing manner couldn’t lose to the opposite party’s. It didn’t matter what experiment they did. Either way, Huang Qiao Yi was watching from the side, so there shouldn’t be any huge mistake.
If I want to win, I’ll need to think of some more methods… Meng Ming pondered this for a bit. His opponent was Qing Xin’s strongest chemistry student, moreover, a third year! Once the competition began, he’d have to first think of some way to disrupt the other party’s experiment.
Neither of the lab tables had anything on them. The equipment was all stored in the cabinet next to the referee seat. The teacher announcing the experiment objective told the staff behind the scenes, “Please prepare and bring up the chemicals.”
With this order, the gazes of the spectating students all turned to outside of the building’s forest square exit—a few school staff members were currently bringing out a two-tier shelf. Each of the two layers had 10 reagent bottles, for a total of 20 bottles, all of which were filled with some colorless, clear fluid.
These were the reagents to be used for this competition.
After the shelf was moved to the center, the teacher used the megaphone to tell everyone present, “There are 10 types of colorless, clear fluids that I set up, with a total of 20 bottles. The ones on the top and bottom contain the exact same reagents! They’re all numbered from left to right.” She walked up to the shelf to point this out. “Basically, the top shelf’s #1 reagent is the same as the bottom shelf’s #1 reagent. In order to maintain the fairness of this competition, I’ll let the competitors freely choose which reagents they want to use. Firstly, can both parties each choose two bottles on the top layer, then hand the same reagents on the bottom shelf to the other party? In other words, each side will have four bottles of unknown reagents, and they will have the exact same ones! Lastly, according to your choices, I’ll choose another reagent bottle and hand it to both of you at the same time. We’ll move away the rest of the reagents.”
“So the competition contains 5 bottles of unknown reagents.” Huang Qiao Yi understood it immediately. “It looks like the stuff in the bottles is all the same, but, in reality, the components are different. The opposite party has 5 bottles identical to ours.”
“We don’t know the contents of the bottles?” Meng Ming asked. “Then how do we do it?”
The teacher continued to announce, “This competition is subjective and changes according to the situation. Once both parties choose all of their reagents, I’ll announce the objective. In addition, this objective is something that isn’t in the textbooks. Does anyone have objections?”
“That’s exactly what I wanted,” Meng Ming and Sean said simultaneously.
Everyone agreed, so the teacher continued, “First, let’s invite the guests to come choose a number!” She asked Meng Ming’s side to choose first.
“Brother Meng Ming, which number do you want to choose?”
“They’re all alike, either way we still don’t know the objective…” Meng Ming casually called out, “#1.”
As soon as he spoke, the assistants on both sides walked up to the shelf to bring over reagent #1 on the top and bottom shelves to their lab tables.
“I choose #10,” Sean said.
In this way, Meng Ming chose #1 and #3, Sean chose #4 and #10. Now there were four bottles on each person’s table.
“Alright!” The teacher said, “Everyone has finished choosing, so I’ll choose the last bottle.” She turned around and considered the chemicals that the two of them had chosen, then knocked the wood where #9 was—
“Bottle #9. Can the assistants please come and bring these over to their tables?”
After the assistants had moved the fifth bottle, the remaining reagents and the shelf were lifted away by the staff. The teacher returned to her referee seat. Once she saw everyone’s state, she prepared to announce the objective.
Huang Qiao Yi pointed at the five reagent bottles and said to Meng Ming, “We don’t know what these chemicals are, so we need to first identify them.”
“Identify? For what?” Meng Ming didn’t understand at all.
“In other words, we need to figure out what exactly these five bottles contain,” Huang Qiao Yi said. “Well, let’s listen to the teacher’s objective first.”
The teacher cleared her throat, and the spectators gradually quieted down. Everyone was waiting for the objective that would require using these five bottles of reagents.
“This competition is on…” The teacher raised her megaphone and loudly declared, “Synthesis!”
Synthesis, or creating a product out of the available materials.
“There are 0.5L of fluid within each party’s bottles! I ask both sides to do their utmost to use the five reagents on the tables to synthesize more products!” As the teacher said this, she fished out two 2L graduated cylinders from the equipment cabinet, and heavily placed them on the referee table. “As for how you’ll be judged—after the end of the experiment, I ask both sides to pour their completed products into these two graduated cylinders! After inspection, the victory will go to the one that has the greatest amount of product!”
“Competing in amounts.” Huang Qiao Yi said to Meng Ming, “It’s very simple, it’s a test of who can produce more.”
Meng Ming understood this point.
“Next, I’ll announce what you have to make.” After all the dramatic flair, she was finally informing them of this. The teacher cleared her throat again and declared, “The product you’ll have to make for this competition is—water!”
Why is it…water?
The objective subdued everyone present! The two opposing sides, as well as the other students present, had never heard of a chemistry synthesis like this before—
“Synthesize water? I’ve only ever heard of synthesizing chemicals…”
“How do you synthesize water, it’s not stated in the books…”
“I understand, it’s probably pure water.”
Huang Qiao Yi and the opposing Sean and Thomas already understood the meaning of this objective—that’s right, they needed to use these five colorless, clear fluids that had impurities dissolved in them to produce “pure water”! In more ordinary terms, they had to eliminate from these bottles any dissolved substances aside from water. Only Meng Ming was still confused. “What? Do these bottles not contain water…?”
Seeing that the surrounding people were slowly beginning to understand, the teacher continued to explain the rules.
“The rules are simple. First, you cannot use anything outside these reagent bottles; second, if you want any equipment, you can grab it from the equipment cabinet, but only the assistants can retrieve it; third, aside from retrieving equipment, you cannot leave the lab table; fourth, the allotted time is four hours! —If you want to go to the bathroom, quickly go now; once the competition starts, you will not be allowed to do so anymore!”
These were the rules. After Huang Qiao Yi thoroughly explained the content of the experiment to Meng Ming, Meng Ming still pondered it for a bit. He saw that there was a rusty, old water faucet on the lab table and asked, “You mean, we can’t use this water?”
“That’s right,” Huang Qiao Yi twisted the faucet head. “However, these are lab tables that have been moved out from the labs inside, water doesn’t flow through them…”
There was a large amount of various equipment inside the equipment cabinet, enough for them to use during the competition.
“Do we need to pour out the produced water into that graduated cylinder in the end?” Meng Ming asked Huang Qiao Yi as he pointed to the graduated cylinders on the referee table.
“Yes, but the water’s purity will be examined,” Huang Qiao Yi said. “If the water isn’t pure, then it doesn’t matter how much you make.”
All the rules were clear; both sides of the competition and the spectators had all understood the content of the competition. At 10:15, the teacher formally declared, “The competition begins now!”
“I’ll go get some beakers and test tubes first!” Huang Qiao Yi said, and immediately began to move towards the equipment cabinet. She and Thomas began to move almost simultaneously.
The tables only had those 5 bottles of unknown fluids, there were no other reagents. The reason for retrieving beakers and test tubes was to extract small amounts of these fluids mix them together. According to the resulting phenomena of the reaction, they would be able to identify the compositions.
While the two assistants were choosing equipment, Sean and Meng Ming began to interfere with each other.
“That girl’s responses are pretty fast, huh,” Sean said.
Meng Ming replied, “Of course. I hadn’t imagined that your brother would be as fast as her.”
“Ah, Thomas is a first year. It looks like you two are probably around his age too!” Sean actually figured out their grades in an instant. “You haven’t learned anything, yet you still dare to come and compete.”
Meng Ming was somewhat annoyed, “Age? You’re already a fifth year, yet you have the nerve to be competing here!”
The two of them didn’t move, but their mouths were nimble.
“Alright,” Huang Qiao Yi rushed back carrying a bunch of beakers and test tubes, a large piece of label paper, pH test paper, and two test tube racks. She hurriedly said, “Do it quickly!” Her spirits were quite high; she seemed to greatly look forward to finding out the real contents of these reagents. “I’ll identify them, Brother Meng Ming should just watch.”
In any case, Meng Ming didn’t know how to do anything, so he could only stand to the side and watch anxiously. He even loudly stated to the opposing Sean, “I won’t act now, the first step will be completed by my assistant.” He moved the chair to the side of the lab table and leisurely sat down, his hands provocatively crossed in front of his chest.
Sean had just planned on making a move, but instead got irritated by Meng Ming’s attitude.
“You…” He placed the beaker in his hand down onto the table, and grabbed his own chair. With a “kua”, he also sat down next to his lab table! “Thomas, you do the appraisal.” —Sean wouldn’t act either!
Meng Ming didn’t continue speaking, and simply smiled confidently at the person sitting across from him.
Thus, the two appraisers nimbly began their work.
The assistants’ agile movements made the spectators hold their breaths. The two of them extracted and mixed the fluids with each other, pouring them between different apparatuses over and over again. Each time they finished one action, a label would be neatly stuck onto the glass apparatus; their movements were smooth and unhindered! No more than a few minutes later, Huang Qiao Yi’s beakers, test tubes, and bottles had many identifying chemical formulas stuck on them. There were also many products from various reactions between the fluids. Some were different colors, others were things like precipitates. On the other hand, Thomas’s side hadn’t made any progress!
“Brother…” Thomas said in English.
“Don’t ask me, do it yourself!” Sean shouted. Seeing how Meng Ming hadn’t ever spoken a single word, how could he speak to Thomas?
Thomas was rebuffed 2-3 times in succession, but he still persisted in explaining to his brother, “Brother…it’s not that I can’t do it, but…”
“What exactly is wrong?” Hearing this, Sean could only turn around to look back at his lab table.
“I,” Thomas picked up a beaker to show Sean. The beaker had some black, ashy rectangles on them. “These beakers seem to have problems. Not long after each label is stuck on, the paper will get burned off. I can’t remember which bottle is which at all…”
“What?!” Sean immediately stood up to inspect it. At this time, Meng Ming was still in his previous sitting posture, and his smile—
Brilliant Blossom in addition to Small Flaming Arrow. Every time you stick a label on, I burn it. Nobody can see my movements, hehe!
“Brother Meng Ming, I’m done!” Huang Qiao Yi’s words made Meng Ming, who had been observing the other side the whole time, finally turn around. He stood up and looked at the test tubes filled with mixed fluids all over his lab table. Most of the five large bottles had labels that clearly indicated their compositions!
“It took quite a bit of time,” Huang Qiao Yi wiped off some sweat. “I identified 4 bottles.”
“What are they?” Meng Ming asked.
#1 is benzene (C6H6), #3 is ammonium bicarbonate (NH4HCO3), #4 is silver nitrate (AgNO3), #10 is hydrobromic acid (HBr).
“What are all these…” Meng Ming was baffled.
“It doesn’t matter, we need to hurry up and start!” Huang Qiao Yi was extremely focused. “Look, when #1 combines with any other fluid, two layers are formed.” Huang Qiao Yi picked up the tube with two layers to show Meng Ming. “#1 is pure benzene, and cannot be mixed with water, just like oil. Benzene and water have absolutely no relationship, so it can be said that #1 has absolutely no use in this experiment. Brother Meng Ming chose it in vain.”
“Why does that matter, doesn’t the opposite party also have this benzene? They can’t use it either…”
“But, look at these other bottles.” Huang Qiao Yi continued to explain, “They’re chemical substances soluble in water. We have to remove these chemicals.”
“Basically, we just have to withdraw the water in these bottles, right?” Meng Ming said.
“That’s not all. I think that there’s a more important part to this experiment!” Huang Qiao Yi said. “It’s not just limited to the water inside these bottles. I discovered that some of these reagents produce water when combined! The method we need to use has to produce more water than present, then distill it to extract pure water.”
Distillation—simply put, was heating up a solution to boil the water within into steam. By transporting it with tubing, the vapor would be condensed in another receptacle to form pure water.
“No wonder this requires four hours,” Huang Qiao Yi sighed. “Even with four hours, we need to make the best use of it, because reagents 1, 3, 4, and 10 won’t last for long periods of time. As time elapses, they’ll slowly decompose, producing who knows what kind of waste. Then it would just become extremely troublesome.”
“I understand.” After hearing this, Meng Ming thought to himself that he had to act quickly. “Then I’ll do the next part! But…” He turned around to look at the fifth reagent, bottle #9, that the teacher had chosen. “What is #9?”
“I…I don’t know.” Huang Qiao Yi had already swept through all the test tubes related to #9. “Fluid #9 didn’t have any clear, distinctive responses when mixed with any of the other reagents. I don’t know what’s in there.”
At that moment, the teacher at the referee chair was somewhat shocked at the fact that Meng Ming’s side had determined the contents of the four reagent bottles so quickly. But she secretly smiled to herself at her seat—
The reagents you guys chose earlier were too easy to identify, so I decided to deliberately make things difficult. Heh, bottle #9 contains pure water~
The current situation (Identification process used negligible volume. L: measurement units, increasing).
|Zhuge Meng Ming’s side||Sean Bozmann’s side|
|Benzene: 0.5L||?: 0.5L|
|Ammonium Bicarbonate: 0.5L||?: 0.5L|
|Silver Nitrate: 0.5L||?: 0.5L|
|Hydrobromic Acid: 0.5L||?: 0.5L|
|?: 0.5L||?: 0.5L|