On Monday morning the Nature offices in the King’s Cross area of London were evacuated.
The problem? – Gas.
Following a fire on a nearby building site, there was a danger that four gas cylinders would explode (BBC coverage here). The standard procedure apparently involves cooling down the cylinders with water and then waiting 24 hours before removing them. I remember last year when a similar thing happened in the back of a van on the M25, someone suggested deliberately blowing up the cylinder by firing an armour-piercing bullet at it – a much more instant, and obviously spectacular, solution! (Unsurprisingly, the authorities went for the watch-and-wait approach).
I worked in chemistry labs for quite a few years and never had trouble with gas cylinders – it seems ironic that only now they cause me problems…
Anyway, two days later, we’ve been allowed back in to our offices – without a single shot being fired.
Sometimes gas is not a laughing matter.
Stuart Cantrill (Associate Editor, Nature Nanotechnology)