Friday, January 25, 2013

David Snyder arraigned

The latest on Dr. David Snyder, the UC Davis postdoc who was apparently experimenting with explosives in his campus apartment from Jyllian Kemsley at The Safety Zone:
UC Davis chemist David Snyder was arraigned this afternoon on three counts of reckless disposal of hazardous waste, three counts of possession of a destructive device or explosive, one count of possession of materials with intent to make a destructive device, and two counts of possessing or bringing a firearm onto campus. All ten counts are felonies.
Dr. Kemsley notes the AP's report, where they talk to Dr. Snyder's attorney:
Snyder's defense attorney, Linda Parisi, said her client had the materials for research. "What happened in Dr. Snyder's apartment was an accident. He harbored no intent to build or detonate an explosive device," she said. "He is a chemist working on a variety of projects."
I would really like to know a couple of things:
  • What were the destructive devices that the Yolo County DA are charging Dr. Snyder with possessing? (I am fully prepared for them to be potentially underwhelming.) 
  • What is "the variety of projects" that Dr. Snyder was working on, and why couldn't he have done them in his laboratory? 
This case confuses me; I await more data. 

9 comments:

  1. You and everyone else. I want to know if his superiors are being pursued for failing to secure laboratory materials and equipment. As a current student at UCD, I am particulary interested in the repercussions facing the department for providing the community with an unsafe environment where researchers can easily remove dangerous compounds from campus laboratories.

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    1. Does anyone work in an academic lab like this? Frankly if I wanted remove dangerous chemicals from my lab, I'd pick them up and walk out the door. Bigger quantities, use a backpack. Nothing is locked, not even other groups' labs, except for the (so I hear) startlingly unsecured class A drugs cabinet of one group. Luckily, I don't want to make a bomb.

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    2. I once took some blocks of dry ice home in my backpack from my undergrad lab when my fridge died. My advisor praised my ingenuity 8-)

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  2. Snyder is lucky that he wasn't charged with possessing a "weapon of mass destruction." From an FAQ on WMD's from the FBI's website, "Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are defined in US law (18 USC §2332a) as: (A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title (i.e. explosive device)."

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  3. According to the news articles, the explosion happened at 1 am; one has to wonder what exactly he was doing at that time of night. Also in the articles is the statement that a second person came to his apartment soon after the explosion and disposed of some of the chemicals in four different dumpsters around the campus, which the police readily found.

    Whatever he was doing, it wasn't as if he were doing this in the basement of a home that he owned - he was doing it in an apartment building. Frankly, I think they should throw the book at him.

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    1. I have an unfortunate but useful mental tool for these situations -- was he being stupid or evil?

      I think it's more-or-less established that he was being stupid; the law is very interested in insinuating that he's evil.

      That he was being stupid (and presumably should know better about the points you've raised) is enough to get him in enough real trouble that he will learn better, I hope.

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    2. ...and I guess I'm interested in knowing "what was his intentions?"

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    3. Intentions? I don't know maybe a home "hulk" cure. I'm not sure I would do that in a University setting, never know who might be watching.

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  4. when my dad was a grad student he and a colleague made some homemade fireworks using supplies pilfered from the gen chem labs. the pièce de résistance was a tin can bomb detonated out by lake michigan that could be heard back on campus. makes for a great story when he tells it but i wouldn't try doing this today

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