A letter from an old friend.

Posted: December 12, 2010 in ChDV's life, Internet, Just for LULz

There is an Internet company in Russia known as Mail.ru. It was founded back in late 1990’s as a simple email service and, eventually, it expanded into social network by adding new services (such as blogs, microblogs, Q&A services, news, etc). By mid-2000’s it became the most popular site in Russia, with tenths of millions visitors daily. But it hasn’t developed much since 2006, in terms of technical features, so it has lost all of its competitiveness by 2007-2008, and many users have run away to other services.

I still own an account at Mail.ru. I go there once every 2-3 weeks to clean up my inbox from spam. But yesterday, when I was checking it, I found a very interesting message from my old Russian friend with whom I haven’t spoke in months. The letter was so extraordinary that I decided to translate it (trying to keep the original punctuation) and post it here.

So, here it is (the message came on the 8th of December):

Hey Den! ) how are things? what have you been up to?
I’ve got a very serious Chemistry question for you, I broke a 5 L flask with mercury outside the town….., I’m screwed, it was buried into the ground ) Imagine: snow, frozen mud, I was digging into that shit and accidentally smashed the flask with the shovel, the temperature now is -20 C, I need to collect all the mercury, preferably avoiding any snow in a mix )))
I’m waiting for your advice, I can’t seek help from the local ecologists because I was going to sell this stuff today for cash, but I sort of fucked it all up, as you can imagine, so I can’t finish the deal. I can’t seek help from the ecologists.

I was sitting here for 5 minutes, trying to comprehend WTF did I just read.

I wrote him back, saying that it’s probably too late, but, in that sort of situation, you better collect everything, with the snow, and then heat the mixture up, until the mercury evaporates, and then you redirect the vapor into another flask and wait before it condenses back to its liquid form. I also mentioned that it’s necessary to have professional lab equipment in order to play with that sort of stuff, otherwise you’ll not only lose the mercury but also kill yourself by inhaling all the toxic vapor…

But the most important message in my reply was to delete the account at Mail.ru and to start using Gmail and Facebook, as all normal people do…

By the way, Chemistry heads, what are some other ways to safely collect spilled mercury in such conditions?

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