Everyone who’s ever worked in a lab knows the pain of when something goes horribly wrong. Used the wrong solvent? Check. Accidentally poured your product painstakingly isolated over several weeks down the sink? Check. Tipped acid in the organic waste bin? Whoops. Inadvertently made an explosive? Yikes.

This week Keith Hornberger, executive director, chemistry at clinical-stage biotechnology company Arvinas in the US, related on X, formerly Twitter, that his son was left feeling a bit unhappy after he broke a beaker in a school chemistry lab. In an effort to cheer his son up and make him feel a bit better about his lab disaster he asked for scientists’ best stories of the biggest or most expensive piece of glassware they’d ever broken.

The science community did not disappoint. There were over 100 different stories of scientists having a smashing time with particularly expensive equipment, hazardous substances and precious metals. We’ve picked out some of our highlights. 

The biggest piece of glassware to go tinkle?

And the most expensive mishap? Oof!

After all these tales of glassware woes there is a happy ending though. At least one person felt better as a result!

If you have your own story of a glassware disaster you can add it to the thread or share it with us below the line in the comments.

Correction: Keith Hornberger’s affiliation should be Arvinas not Columbia University.