Electrical arcs stabbed through the violet dusk. Heated solutions groaned toward their boiling points. Bubbles rose helically through luminous green liquids. Miniature explosions occurred in distant corners of the facility, sending up showers of glass as nearby workers cowered beneath seaside umbrellas set up for just such protection. Gauge needles oscillated feverishly. Sensitive flames sang at different pitches. Amid a gleaming clutter of burners and spectroscopes, funnels and flasks, centrifugal and Soxhlet extractors, and distillations columns in both the Glynsky and Le Bel-Henninger formats, serious girls with their hair in snoods entered numbers into log-books, and pale gnomes, patient as lock-pickers, squinting through loupes, adjusting tremblers and timers with tiny screwdrivers and forceps. Best of all, somebody in here somewhere was making coffee.
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